There are 8,000 Stories in the Naked City – This is One of Them
I drove through the pre-dawn streets. The traffic lights cycled through their silent and regular routine, directing dozens of ghost cars to dozens of ghost locations. The street glared with rain and my windshield turned runny from the fat drops. It was weather best described as cheap film noir.
I needed some cash, so I pulled to the curb in front of my bank, snugged up my hat, and dug through my wallet looking for the ATM card. As usual, I confused my credit card and ATM card. “There are far too many blue cards,” I thought.
I jumped the rain swollen gutter and looked down. There, barely afloat in the dirty river, was a discarded and sodden package for a pair of Fiskars™.
The Mystery Scissors
Then, midway to the auto-teller, I found the scissors lying on the sidewalk. They had bright orange, left-handed handles. Not your routine find on a rainy pre-dawn morning, but I only vaguely took notice. I thought, “that’s odd” as I walked by. “I’ll pick them up on the way back to the car.”
You can never tell when you might need a left-handed, orange-handled pair of scissors. Fiskars™ are a well-respected brand too.
I reached the ATM still pulling at more plastic than any one person needs, so I wasn’t paying close attention to the ATM itself. Sure, there was the usual scatter of envelopes dropped by people who are too stupid to fill out BEFORE doing their business. I saw them, white and bold, out of the corner of my eye, but it never crossed my mind that I might see something else. Something stranger and more out of the ordinary than a pair of early morning Fiskars™.
I let the machine slowly suck my card into its mechanical maw for the transaction. It began asking questions a real person should have asked. It asked me which of the 16 separate languages I would like to use. I wondered if anyone ever chose Portuguese. Did I want to take advantage of the triple rewards that would allow me to check up to two bags on United airlines for free? That will remain a mystery I’m afraid.
Absent mindedly, I glanced down. There, in the wet, was something for which I was completely unprepared. It caused me a start.
It Looked Male
An intact, dark, still rubber band-tied, pony tail – it looked male – lay at my feet. The hair at the base was ragged and angle cut, suggesting a self-make over. I didn’t dare pick it up. Who knew where it might have been?
Did the former owner find himself in one of the local bars deciding right then and there that good grooming was just too important to wait for morning? Just how many beers or whiskies went into that decision?
Where does one purchase scissors in the middle of a deserted neighborhood at night – especially the left-handed variety you can only find at old-fashioned stationers’ shops?
Was the hair a hint of something more nefarious? Did a thief come to rob the ATM and decide to change his appearance to confuse the cops? If he did, why do it in full view of the ATM’s security camera? Surely the cops would have found him easily for a simple open and shut case. Perhaps I’d found important evidence, I thought.
Plus, it was an ATM. How do you rob one of those? On America’s Dumbest Criminals they never get away with it.
Maybe it wasn’t a premeditated caper at all. Maybe the thief hit a stationer’s shop the day before with the intention of lopping his locks for the big ATM play. Would the store have captured him on their security cam while he made the buy?
I left with the scissors. The rest of that day was normal. I never found mystery scissors again. But, I still remember those. And the rain. And the small break from the monotony of everyday life.
I still use the Fiskars™ too. Even if I am right-handed.
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- The Urban Landscape is Crucial: A Review of Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow (tor.com)
- Fiskars Cuts+More (kk.org)
- Leftyslefthanded.com Adds New Products to Help Left-handers Go Back to School: Left-handed Spiral Notebooks are Flying Off the Shelves (prweb.com)
- Allow Me A Bit of Gaucherie (themoderatevoice.com)