The Upwardly Mobile Executroid look was not a stretch for James. He stood about 6’1″ tall, and had an immaculate Stepford hubby haircut – parted on the left side with half-inch sideburns framing his forgettable face. He frowned at himself in the mirror, and gave a last lock-in tug on his Thomas Pink tie, then shrugged into his Hugo Boss jacket and ensured his shirt cuffs peeked out just past his jacket sleeves.
Then, he turned the bathroom faucets on and off precisely fifteen times. James looked at the wall clock and waited for the seconds hand to reach twelve, then began soaping his hands for exactly thirty-five seconds. As soon as the seconds hand reached the seven, he proceeded to rinse, for another thirty-five seconds.
Ablutions finished, he grabbed the folded towel, wiped his hands dry and threw it in the garbage.
James grabbed his small suitcase and briefcase from the bedroom, and looked around, thinking. Suddenly remembering, he walked out to the living room, picked his stub-nosed gun up off of the coffee table, and stuffed into the briefcase. The front door could only be accessed by walking through the kitchen, so he couldn’t help noticing a small dot on the lower left side of the refrigerator door on his way out. Opening the cupboard to the left of the sink, he took out a handy-wipe, walked over to the fridge and removed the offending dirt, before depositing the wipe into the trash.
After turning the deadlock seventeen times, he finally escaped his small apartment.
It was almost noon when Betty asked her boss if she took a break. “Can you hold out for another fifteen or so?” Abby responded. “Harold isn’t back yet and I need at least three tellers for the rush. He should be back soon.”
Betty sighed inwardly but pasted a smile on her face. “No problem. I’m dying of hunger over here but that’s OK.”
Abby grinned. “Atta girl!” Both of them laughed.
At exactly noon, James walked into the bank, suitcase and briefcase in hand. He took his spot at the end of the queue and waited patiently until it was finally his turn to get to a teller.
Walking briskly up to the counter, he smiled at the slightly overweight bottle-blonde teller. The second button on her blouse was impossible to miss, as it wasn’t completely done up. It was sort of half in and half out of the button hole. He tried his best to ignore it.
“Good morn, uhh, good *afternoon* sir. How can I help you?” Betty asked.
James placed the briefcase on the counter and looked at his watch. “Um, excuse me for a minute. I have a deposit slip here. Just give me a moment.”
“No problem sir.”
He could feel the sweat forming on the back of his neck as he placed his hand on the gun in the briefcase, waiting for the minutes to reach 12:05.
As soon as the seconds hand reached twelve, James calmly took the gun out and pointed it at Betty. “Madame, I need you to give me all the money in your till. Quietly please – we don’t want to frighten any of your other patrons.”
Although she had been trained for this, Betty was stunned. She knew that the bank was scheduled to implement a new protocol which would keep all the cash behind a closed system but that was at least a month or two away. This man had done his homework. She quickly grabbed up all the cash and shoved it to him.
James whisked it all into his briefcase, placed the gun inside and looked back at her. “Thank you madame. Have a nice day.”
As he walked away from her, Betty noticed an odd-looking mark on the back of his pants, just below the knee-line.
James calmly walked out of the bank and into a nearby alley, where he opened the suitcase, quickly shrugged off his jacket, tie and shirt and donned the replacement white t-shirt and dark jacket that were waiting in the suitcase. Then, he donned a pair of tan-framed glasses.
Transformation complete, James threw the suitcase containing replaced clothes into a nearby dumpster, picked up his briefcase and walked out the alley again, this time changing direction.
As the police car pulled up to the bank, James walked past, looking around curiously. One of the two cops, a big beefy guy with a walrus moustache, looked at him for an instant and then dismissed him and followed his partner into the bank.
James smiled to himself and continued walking.
He waited with a crowd of people at a stoplight. In the noise of the city he almost missed the voice of a small child behind him.
“Mommy look! It’s Santa Claus!”
James looked around, wondering what he was talking about when he suddenly saw the little boy, who was holding his mother’s hand with one hand, and using the other to point to him. Or more accurately, to his pants.
Frowning, James looked down to where the boy was pointing, and couldn’t see anything.
The boy added, “no Mommy look! On the back of his pants. It’s Santa Claus!”
“Shhh, Mikey. Don’t point.” The light turned green and the mother pulled her child away.
James looked down at the back of his pants and there it was. He had no idea what it was but it was offensive to him. Wrong. He needed to get rid of it now. He examined the odd-shaped mark on his pants. It wasn’t a stain, really. It looked like dirt – but where could it have come from? His apartment was immaculate.
He crouched down and opened his briefcase to get out the handy-wipes and continued to think furiously. And then he remembered. Before getting on the bus, a construction worker had stepped off. How could he not remember? The man had encrusted dirt all over his boots. So ugly. He had probably put his feet up on one of the seats, too. And then James had sat down on it. What was the matter with him? He *always* looked before he sat down. Always.
James scrubbed furiously at the dirt, and got most of it off, except….well except that all the rubbing and merely smudged the dirt in even further. He got another handy-wipe out and attacked the dirt with a vengeance.
The traffic light had only changed another three times and the dirt was *still* not gone before he heard the words he’d only heard his nightmares.
“Sir, get down on the ground and put your hands behind your head. NOW”
A few days ago I challenged readers to write about pencils, and then give me a topic to write about. One reader – Nadia – took up the challenge and did a wonderful job of it, which you should read over at her blog. It’s called Mr. Smooth – by Simply Nadia Chyme.
In turn, she challenged me to write about dirt. So there you go.
Oh by the way – the challenge is still open. If you’d like to accept the challenge to write about pencils, please make sure you give me a topic or object to talk about too. I can’t think of a better way of honing your creative skills. :)