Blake cursed softly and threw his cigarette to the ground. Then he lit another. He'd been waiting for McCarver for half an hour. We'd been waiting.
He took a notebook from his back pocket and started scribbling. I had to hand it to the man. Even though he'd branched out into armed robbery, he was still a writer. I wondered if I'd turn up in his story the way I'd turned up in McCarver's. I knew one thing: If I ever robbed people and wrote about it, I'd disguise myself so well in the story that no one would recognize me.
Blake stopped writing and lit a cigarette. I had all evening. As long as he had cigarettes, it looked like Blake did, too.
Baltimore closes early at night, so I heard the soft click of the footsteps from a long way off. I ducked into the pharmacy doorway and peered back out, but he saw me, a young, skinny guy whose clothes had seen too many sunny days and too few washings.
"I just got into town this morning," he said, "and —"
"How are you, Brian? What'd you do with the twenty I gave you on Tuesday?"
" — I need some money for a place to stay ... This friend of mine ... I got to get to my car and ... I've got a job lined up if I can just get some money to get to ... look, I got this badge. I'm raising money for ... cigarettes, man, cigarettes. Cigarettes, a few bucks and money for the subway. And a mystery, man, a good goddamn mystery to help me pass a few hours. You in town with the mystery writers? Go on, man. I got time. Write me a fucking mystery!"
When he finally gave up his manic jabber and walked off, I was alone in the street. I'd lost McCarver. Now Blake was gone, too.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009