What he perceived

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Something was not right.

He did not know what or why, but a sense of apprehensiveness was smacking Mark in the face. 'It doesn’t make sense,' he thought. 'This is my vacation, shouldn’t everything be relaxing?' It could have been that he was forced to overcome his unnatural fear of escalators. He felt totally humiliated when he had to squeeze his eyes tight just to move from one side of the airport terminal to the other. He knew that 23-year-old men should not be afraid of something as simple as escalators. This fear was just not something he could control. And it had been over a half an hour since that incident, and he had been comfortably sitting in the cushioned chairs of the Dallas airport lobby listening to his iPod just moments ago. He glanced around in attempt to figure out what was giving him this eerie feeling.

Then he saw him.

An odd looking man had entered the room and slouched down into a chair. All six foot, 100 pounds of him were dressed in black. This shadowy figure was about half the size of a typical person for his height. One of his slender hands held a black leather bag. He seemed to isolate himself from everyone else in the room, as the chairs around him were vacant. Despite the rather suspicious look, no one else seemed to know him. It was as if they had seen fifty people just like him already at this airport. As a detective in training, Mark became very observant of what criminals were like. From his unnatural swagger to his dark profile, this man matched many stereotypes that typical criminals displayed.

What was he doing?

The man quickly glanced around the room, brushed his handlebar mustache three times, and then peeked into his bag. He reached in and pressed something. It beeped in response. Mark nervously looked the other way, his mind filled with questions. 'What is he doing here? Could he be here to hurt someone? Could he be a terrorist? What is in the bag he is holding? Am I going to die? Is a flight to Los Angeles really worth the risk of dying?' Nothing was clear to him, and his fear grew by the second.

Mark glanced at the clock. '10:42 A.M., I have 18 minutes to figure out what this is all about.' He then looked at the television. The bottom headline caught his attention.

-Criminal steals over ten million dollars worth of sports memorabilia at gunpoint at a store near the Dallas Airport. Be on the lookout, and stay inside locked doors. The criminal is dressed in black, and is carrying a black bag with him. –

'WHAT?' Mark nearly jumped out of his shoes. 'A criminal? Why couldn’t this have happened on a different day? ANY other day?'

The clock now read 10:45. A voice rang out over the airport intercom. “We will be boarding flight 319 to Los Angeles, California in five minutes. Anyone who needs to use the restroom should use it now.” In response, the suspicious looking man stood up and walked toward the men’s room, leaving his bag on the chair.

'He left his bag on the chair!'

Mark was no longer afraid of this man. Now he found this short break as an opportunity to use the training he had been put through to bust a thief. It could even help him establish a good reputation as a detective. 'This is my chance to be a hero. If I bust this thief, my name will be heard by detective agencies all over the world! Surely I will get promoted!' Mark thought of all the possibilities that would come with this. But first thing was first: he had to get enough evidence to make an arrest. 'That doesn’t seem too hard. It looks like he has all of the things he has stolen right in the bag! He may even have a gun in there!' The different charges he could arrest this man of raced through Mark’s mind. He felt apprehensive, but eager to resolve this as well.

Mark realized he must go now, because the criminal would be returning any moment now. Sly as a snake, he crept over to the chair where the bag rested. It looked empty from the outside, but he presumed that it was still filled to the top with baseballs and photos with famous athletes’ signatures on them. 'On the count of three, I am going to open this bag,' he said to himself. 'One…two…'”HEY!” The accused criminal had spotted him and was running back to his spot. Mark continued, assuming it would not matter once he was behind bars'…three!' With this, he flung the bag open.

As soon as he unzipped the bag, confetti flew everywhere. Multicolored streams of paper shot up into his face. A voice recorder read out- "HAPPY SIXTH BIRTHDAY PETER! All of your cousins from Dallas would like to wish you a happy birthday!" The once suspicious man gazed at Mark, astonished by what had just taken place. In the wake of this, Mark had realized he had jumped to a conclusion too early. Now he was even more embarrassed and humiliated than before, because he had just busted a birthday present.





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