Turmoil and Tubers

May 19, 2011
He walked down the boardwalk with his hands shoved deep in his pockets and his face turned up towards the sunshine. Despite the surrounding skyscrapers, the strongest rays were able to peek though and warm his face. He smiled, brought his eyes back down from the sky, and began surveying the street. A cop rode by on a bike, and the man – seemingly unconscious of his own actions – tugged his bulky coat closer around himself. The morning nipped with a spring-like chill instead of biting with wintry cold.
He approached a frozen treat kiosk and bought a chocolate and nut covered ice cream cone, pulling a few extra dollars from his pocket and pressing them into the hand of the vendor. The side of the man’s mouth twitched as his hand brushed something cold and metallic in his pocket, but this change in expression likely went unnoticed by those around him.
The man continued his leisurely walk while he ate the cold ice cream on the slightly chilly morning with his bulgy coat tucked tightly around him. It was odd; the coat seemed to offer no warmth. He concluded this must be because of the cold ice cream.
He saw a little girl, holding tightly to her mom’s long coat with one hand and clutching a play purse in the other. She was a darling child, maybe six years old, with her blond hair pulled messily back into a ponytail. He smiled as she turned her big shining eyes towards him. She looked longingly at the half eaten ice cream cone in is hand before realizing he was looking back at her. She dropped her purse and pulled closer to her mother with a disconcerting look. The mother bent down to pick up the bag and began to lecture the child about being more careful with her things before she noticed the man was watching. She proceeded then to pull the child across the street, audibly muttering something about creepy old men in baggy coats watching innocent children on slightly chilly days.
Old? He was 52! Since when did that qualify as old? So what if his six-day-old stubble was speckled like salt and pepper. So what if he had lost a little muscle mass and gained some in the gut over the years. Creepy? He wore glasses and was maybe 5’10” and 160 pounds. He looked more like a professor (though if would help if he shaved off the six-day-old stubble) than a creep! There was nothing threatening about him. But these thoughts were driven from his mind when his hand again brushed something metallic and cold in his pocket. He wiped his sticky (and now ice cream-less) hands on his black trousers and proceeded forward, using a stride with more purpose and direction. The morning was getting on. He needed to stop wasting time with these frivolous delays and concentrate on his task.
He was aware of himself stopping at the center of a stone bridge and looking out over the river, despite his recent resolve to stop the delays. It was, after all, too beautiful a morning to completely dismiss. It had warmed up a little over the past hour, but he was still cold. A woman in a pink jogging suit and wearing headphones had begun to approach behind the man, but crossed over to the other side of the street, giving him a suspicious look. He felt a wire poking his leg, looked down, and saw it protruding from the bottom of his bulky coat. He hastily shoved it back up the coat, hiding it from view. The man walked quickly off the bridge, dropping the rest of the change from his pockets into a homeless man’s outstretched hand. A small yet elegant building stood ahead.
There wasn’t much special about the embassy. It housed representation for a few small (I won’t call them insignificant, but they wouldn’t have been cared about by the general population) countries. The man was not much noticed when he walked into the sparsely peopled lobby. He walked slowly to the coffee cart and pile of two-day-old donuts. The coffee was cold. He poured it into the trash can and finished his donut before turning slowly, opening his coat to reveal a strange contraption, consisting of wires stuck into explosives and potatoes, that was strapped to his chest. He stalked into the center of the room, raising his voice ominously.
“Everyone on the floor. I have potatoes!”





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