I was composing a death scene. The setting and characters were in place and the dialogue was writing itself. That’s when I saw the cops. A cruiser was coming up behind me. I instinctively checked the speedometer and eased my foot off the accelerator.
Up ahead, two cruisers had stopped on the overpass and an officer was looking over the rail at the highway. Two more police cars were merging from the ramp to my right. Over in the eastbound lanes, another cruiser was approaching.
Beyond the overpass, flashing blue and red lights drew my attention to the side of the road. Two cruisers each had a car pulled over. A uniformed officer with a blonde ponytail was outside her vehicle and approaching one of the cars.
My exit was just beyond this spot. No longer on the highway, I rounded the first bend in the road and encountered another set of flashing lights. A heavyset cop was returning to his vehicle and the woman he had pulled over was signalling to enter the flow of traffic.
My death scene would have to wait. My interest had shifted to the extraordinary number of police patrolling the area.
As I arrived at the gym, a suspicious looking character was standing on the outskirts of the parking lot. His shoulder length, wild, frizzy hair, and tangly chest-length beard caught my attention immediately. Aside from his disheveled appearance, he carried two or three faded cloth bags filled with Idon’tknowwhat, and was eyeing up a Hummer parked in the lot.
He stood to the side of the vehicle, looking it over front to back appearing to pay particular attention to the rear license plate. Aha, I thought, he's looking for the getaway vehicle. I would have liked to aid in his capture but I was already running late.
In an effort to avoid the empty parking spot in front of the bakery, I circled the lot twice. No luck - there was no other available opening. Grabbing my bag, I slammed the car door shut and ignored the entrance to the bakery, hoping I could do the same when I came out.
After the workout, I drove through the parking lot but there was no sign of the dubious vagrant. I continued to the next stop on my agenda without seeing further police activity.
The death scene that had been going so well on the way into town disappeared from my mind. Now it was more of a cop chase that ended in a shootout. I absently licked the cannoli cream filling from the corner of my mouth while imagining this homeless person as the object of an inordinately orchestrated manhunt. My tongue probed each tooth for crumbs as I began my re-write.
The bank robbing drifter, hair and beard aflutter and carrying cloth sacks bulging with cash, shuffle-walked between the parked cars until he found an appropriate escape mode. At the last minute, he grabbed an innocent bystander and forced her into the vehicle. He careened out of the parking lot behind the wheel of a hot-wired Hummer. His hostage pressed her face against the back window as he sped up the road. She looked a lot like the woman from the bakery.