It was not the sort of place one would wish to be walking alone. It was not, indeed, the sort of place one would wish to be walking at all, if one could help it. The shadows outweighed the light and the streetlights did nothing but accentuate the darkness.
And yet, there she was, a small figure darting in and out of the light-striped darkness, striding with purpose. Her high heeled boots clacked on the damp pavement, handily avoiding the deep, ankle-twisting cracks. Her long black trench coat swirled around her, oversized, like a dark curtain, doing nothing to conceal the slight figure beneath.
But there’s always something hiding in the shadows. Sometimes it’s an adorable squirrel or a lost puppy. Occasionally, it’s an abandoned burger wrapper, flapping in the breeze. This time, however, that something turned out to be a rather large man with a gun.
And in another moment, she found her purposeful stride broken as she was unceremoniously shoved into an alley, with what she assumed must be said gun shoved against her ribs.
“Gimme your wallet,” he said, voice hoarse but clear.
The words were unoriginal. They were straight out of a B-Movie script. No – not even that. They were probably out of a C or D movie – the kind that once-popular actors took with a sense of disappointment, trying to get back to the fame they’d enjoyed ten or twenty years ago.
Tears welled up behind her eyes, but she said nothing, reaching into a pocket of her coat and handing the wallet over.
“And the phone.”
She pulled out a beat-up old android and handed it over. This too went into his coat pocket.
“And the watch.”
He’d seen the bit of silver glimmering on her wrist as she walked. It probably wasn’t worth much, but he’d take whatever he could get when he pawned it.
The tears that had welled in her eyes now spilled out onto her cheeks.
“N-no,” she said quietly.
“No?” he asked. “Remember who’s got the gun here, lady.”
For emphasis, he gave her an extra jab in the ribs. She didn’t flinch.
“No,” she said. “It – it was a gift from my Grandmother. It was the last thing she gave me, before she passed away last year. You can have my wallet, but you can’t have that.”
Why did people always have to make this shit difficult?
Whatever happened to a nice, easy robbery like they had in the old days? You asked, they gave, that’s it. A simple transaction. Now he had to deal with this chick’s stupid sob story.
Rolling his eyes, he grabbed her wrist, not bothering to be gentle, and looked at the thing. Not worth much. Silver-plated something-or-other. He wouldn’t get ten bucks for it at the pawn shop.
“Fine,” he said, dropping her hand and stepping away. “Keep it.”
“Thank you,” she said, tears spilling down her cheeks.
Jesus. Why did their eyes always seem to get bigger when they cried? Like cartoon puppy-dogs or some shit.
He’d had enough of this crap. He was just about to duck out of the alley, as gracelessly as he had entered it, when he found himself hugged tightly around the middle, her small arms vicelike around his stomach.
“Thank you,” she said, her tears soaking into the none-too-clean fabric of his discolored brown jacket. “You don’t know how much it means to me.”
“Great…” he looked awkward down at her dark-brown hair, wondering how the hell to get her off. Finally, he settled for some undignified shoving, as if trying to remove a stubborn peel from a banana. And without another word, he darted out into the drizzly darkness, hoping to avoid any further contact with this person.
She leaned back against the wall, not minding the dampness she could feel through the fabric, and felt the grin spread across her face.
Quickly, she checked her haul – a few more wallets, including a shabby fake-leather one that she assumed had been his. Two more watches – one possibly gold. The Android she’d handed him. And an iPhone, several generations old.
Not great, but certainly better than nothing.
Beggars couldn’t be choosers. Thieves could be, even if the choosing wasn’t all that great.
Oh, well, she thought, as she shrugged her shoulders and resettled herself inside of her oversized coat.
It was a living.
Sympathy Gun Watch
Writing Prompt Courtesy of: