That damn Benjamin! – ronny (13)

Michael Crocker hit the street running, his long legs pumping and sweat dripping from his face. The lone policeman had no hope of catching him, his short legs jarring with every movement of his copious paunch. “Stop,” he gasped, and then gave up the race, cursing Michael for all he was worth. Michael kept running until he was far away. I really should have been named Michael Phelps: Land Edition, he thought wryly to himself. He stopped, gasping and panting. He looked around him- a deserted square with no suspicious Samaritans to complicate his life. He squatted to count the money in the bank bag; all in all, $12,000.00. Not a bad haul, he thought to himself. Not bad at all. He peered at the notes, determining if they were marked. They were as real as the hair on his head. He let out a whoop, then heard the police siren. Damn, he thought, and was off like a rocket. He looked behind him and saw the same policeman, now in a car and at an advantage. He cursed and ran, pushed past an elderly lady and a young man. He overturned a cart of hot chili, grabbing a Gatorade on the go and gulping it down for energy. The car persisted; blasting its horn and cutting through the startled traffic. Michael threw the finished bottle behind him and heard a cry of pain. Oops, he thought. Time enough for sympathy later; he had to escape, didn’t he? He kept running, then saw a dark alleyway perpendicular to the sidewalk. He dove in, and jogged to the end. It was a T-junction, and he chose left. He jogged into another plaza. There was nobody in here but an old homeless guy in a faded red sweatshirt, holding a sign. He read the sign suspiciously (Vietnam vetaran, have marci on old man. Plees give mone). Michael heard the sirens getting closer, heard one saying, “I have him. He’s on Second Street.” Michael reached into…

The bag contained police equipment. Officer Warnes grunted with satisfaction, having felt his favorite truncheon within. He pulled it out, and said to the police, “Spread out in pairs and search for a man wearing a blue jacket and with 12,000 bucks in cash. Shouldn’t be too hard to find. Call in with you radios once you find him. Understood?” They nodded. “Let’s go!”

Barely ten minutes later, Constable Johnson told Warnes, “I have him. He’s on Second Street.” Then, “Hold it there, sonny boy! Oh shit, he’s running again. Stop! Oh…man…I’m…getting…too…” Johnson’s voice cut off suddenly with an “OOF”, as if he had been…

Kicked in the gut, Officer Johnson fell with an “OOF”. Michael retracted his foot, swearing under his breath. Michael didn’t really want to hurt the old officer, but there was no other choice. He turned and ran again, his breath now coming in ragged gasps. Still, sweat pouring down his throat and into his shirt, he ran, hearing the cops behind him. He saw a garbage can in his way, tried to hurdle it but tripped and fell to the ground, knocking the garbage onto the streets. He stumbled to his knees. The cop right behind him fell on his face, saying…

“Shit.” Warnes was now seriously pissed off. The only thing on the Second Street Plaza was an old fountain that had ceased to work, and a cardboard sign saying ‘Vietnam vetaran, have marci on old man. Plees give mone.’ Warnes spat on it. This had been his promotion day, so why, oh, why had that idiot Johnson misled him? There was nobody here. Why today of all days? He walked back towards the street to see Officer Johnson lying on the ground …

Gasping for air, Michael looked back to see one cop still on his tail. He turned his head to see a metal telephone pole right ahead. He ran straight into it and knocked himself to the ground. The cop skidded to a stop and handcuffed him. Michael opened his eyes. The cop grinned and said, “Got you, you son of a racehorse.” Michael grinned back. The cop opened the bag. “Damn…this is a whole lot of money. I guess that I could maybe…” Officer Warnes gave him a good kick in the ass. It hurt. “You did a fine job catching this little Marlin, but if I see you look at that bag, I’ll beat the guts outta you. Is that clear?” “Yes, sir.”

Warnes opened the bag. “There should be about, how much was it? Twelve thousand. Well, pack this off to the bank, and pack this one off to the jailhouse,” he said to a cop. “Eleven thousand nine hundred”, spat Michael. “What?” “Eleven thousand nine hundred”, Michael repeated. “That’s a mighty strange sum of money, son.” Michael grinned, “Well, I might have left one hundred dollar bill in the bank, or it might have been in a chili bowl or on the street.” “Strange, seeing as they were all packed in neat bundles, ten bills to a bundle.” The Officer was getting tense now. “Give it to me, now.” “Well, I don’t have it.” They searched him. He did have one cent, but it was really grubby. No Benjamin. “Sonny, you better tell me where that damn Benjamin is.” “I swear on the Holy Bible that it is somewhere in this city, ” he taunted. “Damn it, son where the hell is it?” “Why do you care so much?” “Because if I don’t return every cent to the bank, my promotion is history! And if I don’t get this promotion, then I will be solidly indebted!”

The policeman that dropped the bag off at the bank came back, panting. “Kid, do me a favor and run back to the bank. Ask them how much was in the bag.” The kid replied, “No need for that, Officer. They said that is was one hundred dollars short of the sum stolen, and that they will report us if they don’t get the money back.” “Goddamn it, kid.” The guy shrugged. “Well, one of us had better cough up some money.” The cops now shied away, saying stuff like, “Well, I dunno, I mean I didn’t really do anything…You were the one who told that guy to go drop it off…Yeah! Why didn’t you check it?” “Okay, okay shut up all of you. How bout we all pitch in a couple of bucks, huh?” “Okay.” They pitched in; all in all one hundred and two bucks. “Good. Now I’ll return this to the bank. Pack this rat up in a nice cozy jail cell.”

Two minutes later, Officer Warnes realized he was hungry. He wandered to Burger King, brushing past a hobo in a faded red sweatshirt. He walked up to the counter. “Umm, I think I’ll have the number one with large fries.” The clerk asked him in a pissed-off voice, “You gonna pay with a hundred too?” “What?” “I just asked, you gonna pay with a hundred too? Cause that hobo right there, in the red sweatshirt paid with one, and I’m sick an’ tired of doing that kind of hard math.” Warnes just stared at her.

Hobo

Hobo

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Monsoon – rikki (9)

Monsoon flood

Monsoon flood

My day started as ordinarily as it could be. Here in the summer days of Calcutta nothing really changed. The heat was ferocious and the need for water pestered you, but the monsoon was supposed to be starting. Anyway, I woke up around 6:45 a.m. I went to the bathroom and at 7:03, I put my yellow slicker on and headed outside for my morning trip to the “Big Bazaar.”

I called an auto-rickshaw to my side and told the driver to take me there. When we arrived, he asked me for 20 rupees and grunted. I gently handed him his money and walked on. Racket filled my ears; “Mangoes! Mangoes! 10 rupees! Ripe mangoes! Mach! Mach! Fish! Fish! Elish Mach! Tangra Mach! Tilapia! 18 rupees per kilo!

I walked on my original route to the mango stall first, then the coconut and last the fish stall. I sipped sweet and refreshing mango juice and adjusted my sandals. BAM! Lightning slashed across the grey sky and rain poured down. More rain slithered out of the clouds and people became frightened, dropping bags of groceries all over the road. Splosh! I slipped and fell into the ankle high water. Cows were running across the roads and stray dogs sprinted along the curbs, which made the people even more frightened.  I was all muddy and wet after the fall. I had no time to lose – the water was getting knee high and had started to flood the entire market. It was a definite flash flood!

I waded through the muddy water and tried to get to higher ground.  A piece of plywood and baskets of vegetables floated past me.  At last I reached the bus stop and was able to get onto a bus.  The bus was loaded with angry and wet people. Men shouted and yelled about who should go where. After fifteen minutes we arrived at a school house.  We quickly hopped out of the bus and sprinted towards the doors. I rested against the wall and dried off with a towel given by a volunteer.  We ate rice and curry.  After a few hours the rain stopped and I arrived back at my flat… safely.

Wait? Where are my groceries and why is my fridge empty!?