Naughty and Nice

Jerry leaves work late one night and is walking to his car. He passes through the parking lot, a desert of darkness with a mild case of neon pox. He quickly pulls out his keys. His eyes dart left and right, keys firmly gripped, the big key jutting out of his fist. He opens his car door and takes a second to breathe.

He puts the keys in the ignition and fumbles with his seatbelt. He looks at missed messages on his phone and grabs his CD case.

The knock on the window nearly sends him through the roof.

He turns around to the driver’s window and sees an old man smiling and waving. The old man is wearing a tattered jacket, dirty jeans, and a baseball cap. Catching his breath Jerry rolls down his window just a bit.

Old Guy: “I didn’t mean to scare you, sir.”

Jerry: “Well you did. What do you need?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing.”

“What do you mean?”

“I just wanted to know I can help you. Anything you need.”

“Thanks, but I’m good.”

“Whatever you need, I’m there.”

“Ok, see you later.”

He rolls up his window and turns on the ignition. He looks up. Another man, slightly younger, is standing in front of his car.

The breath he caught before is screaming to leave again. “Jesus!” Slightly Younger Guy smiles but does not wave. The old man taps on the driver window. Jerry shakes his head and yells at the guy in front to move. The young man remains stoic like a statue.

Old Guy: “He can help you. Anything you need.”

Jerry: “Go away before I call the cops.”

“Whatever you need, he’s there.”

Jerry pulls out his phone. He has no bars.

He locks his doors immediately.

“I will run you over if you don’t move.”

The two men stay still.

“God, forgive me.”

Jerry puts the car in reverse and looks behind him. Another old man is standing behind his car. He doesn’t smile, but he waves.

Old Guy #1: “We can help you. Do you have work for us?”

“Get away from my car! Please, I don’t have anything for you!”

Old Guy #1: “You won’t run us over. You’re no killer.”

“I have to get home, please move or I’ll run through you guys.”

Old Guy #1: “You won’t. You can’t.”

“How do you know?!”

Old Guy #1 points: “You’ll be caught on that security camera over there, running over two pedestrians.”

Jerry remains still, hands gripped on the wheel. “What do you want? Money? My phone? My watch?”

Old Guy #1: “Whatever you have on you, sir. Thank you.”

“Promise you won’t do anything funny.”

“I promise, we’re just tired and hungry.”

Jerry slowly gets out of his car. He looks at the group, each man a zombie with stubble. The Old Guy #2 and Slightly Younger Guy walk towards Old Guy #1. Jerry pulls out his wallet and gives each of them a dollar. They look at the dollars and at each other. They slowly turn to Jerry.

“That’s all I can spare.”

“No, it isn’t. I saw a 20.”

“I need that, I earned it.”

“We need it more, we have no home.”

“That’s it, no more.”

Old Guy #2 coughs. Slightly Younger Guy moves in.

“Don’t come any closer. You’ll be caught on that camera.”

Old Guy #1: “What camera?”

Jerry: “What do you mean? The one-“

Jerry turns around and doesn’t see a security camera.

He does feel a blow to the back of the head.

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