crushed glass

i heard someone cough. i turned around.

there were no people in sight. i listened. all i heard was traffic and wind. 50-50 it could have been my imagination. i walked faster with the bulky stuff in my hands.

the sun was setting on one of the darkest corners of the neighborhood. a huge patch of shade blocked the road.

in the parking alleys behind the plaza building, i found a milk crate. as soon as i got to the end of the alley, i could organize everything. a bunch of crushed electronic crap was weighing down my bucket and i could probably dump most of it back there if no one was around.

i also had a library book. i didn’t intend to steal the book, i only wanted to bring it with me for a few hours. the title was cure yourself with wine! it was about what kind of wine to drink for different illnesses. it had a lot of colorful pictures of fancy meals paired with the wine. between that and the disorganized bucket of herbs, i was hoping to have a look at everything, chuck what i didn’t need, put the good stuff in the milk crate, and return the library book, which i’d taken without checking out, since i didn have a library membership.

at the end of the alley i saw a smashed windshield propped against a wall. little blue-green crumbles of windshield glass covered the area of the ground.

i wanted to stand in the sun but set my things in the most hidden corner of the concrete courtyard instead. i knew i should be in the spot where they’d last see me if i was followed.

there was already a small pile of crushed electronics by the wall, even a large TV set, the screen not broken yet but the VHS slot with a large crater in the front.

i stood there and looked at the stuff for a moment. this was when i heard another cough and a shuffle like somebody’s sneaker brushing on the concrete several bends back. this was when i knew who it had to be. and that he wanted me to hear him coming. he was making a little noise on purpose.

i looked at my stuff. i was really disappointed. i wanted to go through the herbs and i really wanted a chance to look at that wine book.

i looked at the crushed glass on the ground. i reached out and took a handful of the glass. it seems stupid now, but i didn’t have any other weapons on me. a gun would’ve been useless back there anyway.

i listened. it was silent now. but the stress from waiting made it impossible to take my estimated remaining 90 seconds to sort everything. i thought i could throw some things in the milk crate and try to run? on the other hand, the alley was a dead end. i’d have to get out somehow, and this wasn’t a sure thing, never mind the stuff.

before i could think another thought, before i could even figure out if i might as well just come out into the open instead of trying to hide behind the very last corner, or even started to imagine what i might could actually do with the crushed glass in my hand (throw it at him?) i already saw his teeth, his smiling mouth, from under his hood.

somehow, he was already right next to me. he leaned close against the corner of the wall, smiling wide, with huge white teeth, completely silent, like an owl.