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Storm

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At the corner of two city streets whose names are unimportant Stephen stood scraping the mud off his shoes by dragging them across the pavement. The lights from the tall buildings illuminated the night in electric beauty. Stephen burrowed his hands into his armpits in an attempt to fight off the cold. His teeth chattered and he shook his head like a dog to dry his hair. It was useless, of course, since the rain continued to fall. He watched a woman and her young daughter run to their car. He just didn’t understand people that were scared of getting wet. It’s just rain. Who cares if they get a little wet? He did hate the cold though. Stephen sure hated the cold.
The light changed from a red hand to a white pedestrian and Stephen crossed the street quickly. A long step was needed to avoid a puddle. He continued to walk along the sidewalk. After a minute or so Stephen needed to cross another street. He crossed to the right this time. At the next intersection: straight. The next: left. Then right. Right. Left. Straight. And a final left.
Stephen arrived at an expensive restaurant. He walked inside. The five-star steak house was dimly and warmly lit. Jazz set its relaxing atmosphere.
He scanned the restaurant and quickly found Eddie. Eddie sat alone sipping a glass of wine. Stephen sat down opposite him at the booth. A small, single lamp sat at the back of the table, gently lighting the menus and their faces.
“Stephen!” Eddie smiled big. “How did it all go?”
“It all worked out,” Stephen sighed. “Looks like things went smoothly for you.”
“Smooth as a baby’s a**.”
You’d think the two were brothers. They both wore nice, all black clothes. Eddie was older. His eyes revealed experience hidden behind casual joy. Unlike Stephen, whose short hair was a mess from the rain, Eddie’s wavy hair was neatly combed back. Eddie had the face of a conman, and rightly so. He had a round face, but with sharp, handsome features. Stephen’s face was more rectangular. He looked young, innocent, and intelligent.
Their waitress came to the table.
“What would you gentlemen like to order?” she asked. She was young and pretty.
“I’ll have a steak with a side of mashed potatoes,” Eddie said.
“Great. What about you?”
“Oh, I guess I’ll have a steak as well with a baked potato – and a glass of water, too. Please.” Stephen handed her the menu.
The waitress walked away. Eddie watched her. Stephen looked at Eddie. He admired Eddie, in a way. Eddie was just so cool. The way he talked. So funny, and good with the women. He was always the life of a party. Stephen thought he had cool hair, too. He tried to style his hair like Eddie’s. But it was too short. Stephen dried his damp hands on his pants. Eddie turned to face Stephen.
“Do you want to drive?” asked Eddie.
“No, I’m too tired. Do you mind?”
“No, just though I’d ask. I actually like driving at night.”
“How long do you think it’ll take to get there?”
“Well, considering the weather, I’d say about three hours.”
The waitress came back.
“Here’s your water,” she said.
“Oh, thanks,” said Stephen.
She smiled and walked away. Eddie watched her again. Stephen could see the desire in Eddie’s eyes.
“Hey…” Stephen began, “do you really think we can spend all this time here?”
“What? Oh, sure. Of course we can,” Eddie reassured him. Eddie looked back at the waitress, who was now across the room. She was a gorgeous young lady of wonderful proportions. Eddie bit his lip in contemplation.
“I’m gonna go use the restroom,” he said absently, then got up.
Stephen watched Eddie go inside the men’s room. Stephen saw him start up a conversation with their waitress after he came out of the restroom. Stephen could tell they were flirting. Eddie leaned in, smiling. He charmed her effortlessly. Stephen wished he could be like Eddie.
Stephen forced his attention to move to other things. He gulped down half of his water. He looked out the window into the night. If he listened carefully he could hear the rain falling on the sidewalk. The rain landing upon the ground sounded like fingers playing a beautiful song on the piano. Stephen loved that sound. Then a terrible feeling of panic swept over him. His pockets felt empty. He plunged his hands into his pockets. Oh, thank God. The money was still there. Stephen released a sigh of relief. He checked the time.
Eventually, Eddie returned to the table. The waitress brought their food right away. They had eaten half of their meals in languorous silence before Eddie restarted conversation.
“It’s weird, to think we might we might never see Seattle again.”
“I suppose so,” Stephen offered indecisively. “Do you think you’ll like Canada?”
“Maybe. I sure hope so. What about you?”
“I think I’ll like it. But do you think all this is really worth it? I mean, all this just for money?”
“Sure it is.” Eddies took a bite out of his mashed potato. “Why are you so worried all of a sudden?”
“I… I don’t know….” Stephen finished off his water. “ I just –”
A police siren interrupted him. A police car screeched to a stop outside the restaurant.
“Oh s***!” Eddie let out quickly. He threw back his wine, took a final bite of steak, and flopped a hundred dollars on the table. The two men stood and rushed into the backroom of the steak house. They navigated the kitchen for an escape, Eddie leading the way.
The police stormed into the restaurant. But the two black dressed thieves had already slipped out into the night. The policemen searched the restaurant and nearby outside. Nothing was found. The prefect of the police stood on the sidewalk. His uniform soaked, his face flushed with anger and failure.
The storm thundered. Lightning flashed against the sky, like streaks of white paint on a black canvas. Cool wind blew through the streets. And the rain fell hard through the night.





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