Listen Closely....

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I awoke to the sound of birds chirping. How utterly cliched. Cracking open an eye, I sneaked a peek at the clock. It was 5:30 in the morning, far too early to be getting up for work. The sun was barely even up yet, for crying out loud. Still, the sound of singing birds persevered, loudly. Thinking that one of the creatures might be stuck in my house somewhere, I grudgingly pulled myself out of bed. Fumbling around for the switch on the lamp, I tried to single out the source of the noise. It sounded like it was coming from the living room...maybe the idiot bird had gotten itself in through a loose window or something. That was yet another thing wrong with this house; first the leaky faucet, then the termites in the basement, and now this. As the light switched on, my small bedroom was thrown into sharp relief. Not much to look at, as bedrooms go. It had a bed, a nightstand, a small desk with a straight-backed wooden chair; the sparse furnishings of an underpaid, fresh-out-of-college graduate. I slipped a pair of jeans on, and then made my way out into the living room. The noise was loud, so the bird must have been close. I searched behind the chairs, the television, and even the bookshelf. No bird. As I stood there, wondering if I should check the kitchen, I heard it again. It came from the direction of the front door, but there were no hiding spaces big enough to conceal a bird. There was no way it was over there...unless.... I was seized by the strangest idea. I ran to the door, and pulled it open. There, in a tree that had to be a hundred yards away, was a small nest. A single bird rested in the nest. That couldn't possibly be what I had been hearing! As I contemplated what could be going on, the bird opened its beak and loosed another warbling note. I flinched; the noise sounded like it was next to my own ear! Amazed and confused by what I was experiencing, I shut the door quickly. There was something wrong with me. Normal people didn't just wake up with the ability to hear sounds that should be all but inaudible. Maybe I was dreaming...that idea had some merit. My first, childish instinct was to pinch myself, but I dismissed that. If I was actually dreaming, I would wake up eventually. Might as well just go back to bed...and then I heard a faint rumbling. Immediately alert, I crept to the window. There in the distance was a pair of headlights, making their way towards me. A sound of that magnitude, in my current...altered...state, would be fatal! I clapped my hands to my ears as the car approached. The noise was deafening; a toneless roar that found its way into the very core of my being, shaking me apart...and then it was done. The car sped past, down the empty road. I leaped up. If that hadn't woken me up, then I was most definitely not dreaming.

I knew that I couldn't go to work today; it wouldn't be smart to go out in public until I could control this power. Back in my room, I dug out an old pair of earmuffs. It was cold enough that it wouldn't look suspicious to go out wearing them. Snapping them over my ears, a blissful feeling of silence enveloped my world. Pulling on a sweatshirt, I walked out of my room, and into the kitchen. I stopped for only a second to grab the keys to my piece-of-junk car, and some cigarettes with their lighter. As I clambered into the car, I eyed the ignition warily. Willing my ears to shut the noise out, I turned the key. I was pleasantly surprised; it seems my ears had obeyed my silent command. I turned onto the road, and began my trek to...where? I realized that I had no idea where I was headed. Maybe I should go to work after all...it was tough enough living on my measly paycheck already. Working as a security guard at the local amusement park wasn't the most rewarding job in the world. As I was reflecting on this, I had an epiphany. This...well, I was cautious to call it a "superpower", but this ability would be tremendously useful in my job. I would be able to hear anything! I could apprehend people with a minimum of effort. I came to the intersection at the end of the road. With only a moment of hesitation, I turned around to get my uniform. I knew I could turn the power on and off...it was time to see whether I could focus it.

After grabbing my uniform and changing, I drove over to the park. I was about thirty minutes early, but I needed those few minutes of relative quiet to test my power. I showed my ID to the camera above the gates, and the Russ opened the door remotely. As I passed his booth, he called out.

"'Sup with you, Todd? You never here early. Heck, you usually late."

I laughed at him.

"Thought I'd get a head start today, Russ. Y'know, I've been thinkin' that I should put a little more effort in, get a promotion or somethin'. I don' wanna have to deal with YOU my whole life."

Russ laughed too.

"Alright, alright, have fun with whateva you doin'."

A few hours later, I was making my rounds through the food tents. It was more difficult than I had anticipated, keeping a bead on everybody at once. I was immensely occupied with going over anyone who looked suspicious, listening in on their whispered conversations. I felt pretty guilty; I'd heard some things that probably should have remained private. Still, if it meant keeping the park safe, I was okay with knowing a few secrets. I was about to leave the area when I overheard someone whispering. Mentally zeroing in on the location, I listened in.

"Yeah, man, I got the stuff. It's in the guys' bathroom next to the Machinator. Third stall from the left, behind the toilet. Grab it before you head out."

My pulse quickened. This was big. I kept listening. The other person sounded more...sophisticated.

"Very well...here's the money. Twenty thousand, all there. Your boss had better not be lying to me...or there will be hell to pay."

I heard the first guy take a sharp breath in.

"No, no, trust me. It's there."

I tried to turn surreptitiously. Scanning the crowd, I found the guys. The first guy was young, probably only eighteen or nineteen, wearing a hoodie and jeans. The other guy was tall and elegant, with a black leather coat. The kid began to turn away, and I knew that if I was going to bust both of them, I had to act fast. The man sat down, sipping a drink. I knew that, from here, it would take him ten minutes to make it to the bathroom they had been talking about. That was just enough time to confront the kid. I started walking in the same direction, making sure that the kid didn't know he was being followed. After about a minute, I caught up with him. I thought up a quick story, and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hey, kid? Can I talk to you for a second?"

He turned around, an arrogant sneer on his face.

"Yeah? What'cha need, officer?"

I stared him down for a second.

"Can I see your driver's license? You look like someone on our park's banned list."

The guy looked confused, but he reached down and pulled out a wallet. He removed the license, handing it to me.

"Look, I ain't on no banned list. This is my first time here."

I wasn't listening. The license identified him as Richard Greer, age 19. I handed it back to him.

"My mistake. Sorry to bother you."

He pocketed the wallet, turned, and walked quickly away, casting a nervous glance over his shoulder at me. I pulled out my walkie-talkie and radioed the front booth.

"This is Todd. I want you to call the police over, on investigation of drugs. I'm following the perp now. He's tall and pale, with a black leather jacket. Don't let him out."

Russ' voice crackled over the speaker.

"Okay. I'm callin' them right now. You better be sure about this, Todd."

I shut off the walkie-talkie, and started moving towards the bathroom that I knew the man was heading to. The gigantic form of the Machinator loomed above me as I approached the small, brick bathroom. I didn't know whether or not the guy had been there yet, so I went inside. Inside of the third stall from the left, behind the toilet, was a small black bag. I carefully unzipped it. Inside were several bags of crack cocaine. I went back outside, looking around. Now that I knew something illegal was involved, I had the authority to make a citizen's arrest. Sure enough, the guy in the black coat was coming down from my right. I stood off to the side, pretending to talk on my walkie-talkie. I turned away, so that he wouldn't be able to see me watching him. I heard the door open, and turned around just in time to see him disappear into the bathroom. I waited outside the door for only a few seconds. As he came out, I grabbed his arms and held them behind his back.

"I am a security guard of the park. You are under arrest for the purchase and possession of illegal drugs. You have the right to legal counsel. The police are waiting."

The guy started yelling, trying to escape. I was younger, though, and I worked out pretty regularly. Steering him towards the front entrance, I called out to Russ.

"Are the police here yet, Russ?"

Russ popped his head out of the booth's window.

"Yep. And they're getting impatient."

I grinned.

"Tell them I got him, and the drugs."

Two police officers walked in the front entrance, looking around. I called them over.

"Hello, officers. I made a citizen's arrest based on the purchase and possession of crack cocaine. Can I leave him with you?"

One of the officers stepped out and handcuffed the guy. I stepped back as the policeman read him his rights, then started taking him back to the squad car I assumed was waiting outside. The other one turned to me?

"Do you know who sold him the drugs?"

I nodded.

"Richard Greer, age 19. I got him to show me his driver's license."

She nodded.

"Well, I'm impressed. How did you find out about the deal?"

I smiled at her.

"I was just listening carefully."





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pobi40 said...
Feb. 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm
I think this is a really creative story, and I'm excited about your first publication! I hope to see more soon! I may be a little mom-biased but I'm also a teacher and writer -- so not too biased! Well done!
 
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