Posted by: sulya | 12 November 2009

500 Words of Fiction: Hiding

Hiding

A lot of thieves would have been indignant. Outraged. But she’d been stealing since she was a kid. She knew what mattered when it went missing and what wouldn’t matter if you’d never had it in the first place and he hadn’t taken anything she actually cared about. He couldn’t. She didn’t have anything she cared about. Not here, anyway. But he’d done the job badly. He’d done it sloppily and angrily and that pissed her off. That made her care.

There is no art, she said aloud to the heaving, broken mess of her living-room, there is only commerce. And she smiled because it felt good to care. A little awkward and painful like the day after you exercise or have sex for the first time in a long time. But, good.

Could tell he wasn’t high and looking to fix because he’d left the stuff that was really easy to pawn and he’d tossed the place too methodically. Messily and angrily but methodically like it was just a job and he’d gone to work angry. If he’d been riding a desk that day instead of thieving he would have kicked the copier, given the vending machine a good shake.

She found him three days later. Not hard, really. A good thief can find anything because she knows all about where people hide things. So, it was three days later that she found him and slid down right beside him in a booth at Trapper’s Diner. She recognized him, had seen him around.

Did you know it was my place? Do you know who I am?

Do now. No disrespect. Stuff’s gone, though. I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?

He looked up at her from the oily creamer sheen on his coffee, from the faded gold lace pattern on the stained yellow lino table-top. Not contrite, really. Not surly either. Could have had a ten-year bath in the swimming helplessness of those eyes. She’d thought maybe love had ended badly for him and he’d gone out thieving to clear his head. Never smart but something guys do. Tedious reason to be crap at your job, but this wasn’t love-loss. It was real heartbreak, soul-break. It was real loss that was hanging over him, over the whole booth, the whole diner. A shroud of depression propped up on impotence and rage.

It made her think about the one thing she did care about. That one thing. So carefully hidden that she might not ever see it again and yet the only thing that could ever take it from her was time.

She’d had fantasies of wising his ass up. Of schooling him until he found his way again.

Of not being alone for a while. Of caring.

About art.

But in stead, she put money down for his coffee and for the crumpled napkin on top of an egg-stained, crumb-scattered oval shaped dish he’d pushed to the side, rose to her feet and told him not to make a mistake like that again.

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