“So, let me get this straight, you just show up, save the day, and you don’t even know what you did?” a young rookie cop asked. Her black ponytail pulled her brows back slightly and only added to her skeptical expression. Her fellow officers had just hauled a disgruntled and barely conscious man out the door in cuffs, leaving just her.
The younger man across from her fidgetted under the sharp eye of scrutiny. His hands balled up in his jacket pockets. Of course, he remembered, he just knew she wouldn’t believe any of it.
Instead, he said, “I guess so. I mean, I just heard yelling and thought someone may be hurt. I guess when I barged through the door, it took the guy out. It sounded like he smacked the floor pretty hard.”
She eyed him up and down as she looked at the notes. The gas station clerk had barely given her anything reliable to go off of in all his jittery rambling. The video was such bad quality that it was of no help. Now, a shabby-looking man about her own age wanted her to believe that he knocked the robber out by opening a door.
“Okay, let’s just start at the basics, Mr…Finn, right. You were turning the corner on your way back from a walk, at 2a.m., when you heard a yell. You ran down the street to see what was happening and heard more commotion from this gas station. You rushed through the door, rendering the assailant, that you had not seen up to that point, unconscious. Is this sounding right so far?” she asked.
Finn nodded and agreed, “That about covers it, officer Fields.”
She arched an eyebrow and asked, “You do realize that the doors are completely glass. There is no way that you wouldn’t have seen him if he was close enough to have been hit with one.”
Finn glanced back at the door with a nervous and said, “Well, it is late. I’m honestly running on adrenaline and nerves right now.”
Lousy luck, karmic justice for his lies, plain old coincidence, or whatever else you wish to call it finished striking his story apart as the store clerk cleared his throat. His hands had stopped shaking, and his fear was obviously settling down as Officer Fields turned towards him. The man offered his two cents and said, “He was holding a flashlight or something when he came in. I think it distracted the guy.”
“A flashlight?” she asked. The guy nodded and said, “Yeah, just before the door burst open, it shined through like a spotlight or something. Next thing I know, the dude was laid out, and this guy was just standing here telling me I should call the cops.”
Finn sighed as she turned back towards him with an expectant look. He stood awkwardly, grasping for straws in his mind. After all, it’s not every day that the person you save rats you out.
He decided to go all-in on a desperate bid and started his newest story, “I think he must mean there was a reflection on the door when I shoved it open, you know, ’cause it’s all glass. I bet it caught one of the fluorescents just right. I don’t even have a flashlight on me, heck I don’t even own a phone.”
“Nah, man, I’ve worked here for two years on this shift. These lights have never been that bright. Plus, this was fast, it was a split-second and boom, dude was out of it,” the attendant pushed.
“Maybe a car passed by, or maybe one started up and took off. He had to have a getaway car, right? I mean, he is a criminal, but surely he’s not that dumb!” Finn pushed back with his own argument.
“He was dumb enough to get knocked out with a door,” the attendant pointed him. Finn stared in shock as he processed the fact that he had saved this man for this. Not a simple “thank you” or anything.
Officer Fields was giving him another hard look up and down while he squirmed once more under the pressure. He scratched the back of his left hand with his right as he said, “Well, I guess I really can’t argue with that, but let’s proceed. I have no clue what the flash was, but I’ll be happy to help in any way I can, officer.”
As he talked, he edged his hand up to the old analog watch hidden by his jacket sleeve. Officer Fields started her response, talking about how she was grateful and that she needed full cooperation. He nodded his head as he hooked the edge of the glass plate that covered the face and hands of the watch with his fingernail.
Then she started in with an apology as she said, “Look, I’m sorry, I know I’m pushy and overbearing. It’s my first real shift without having to be a ride-along. This is the first time I’ve been trusted to actually handle something. I cannot mess this up.”
A part of Finn actually hesitated as he felt the glass plate shift just before it popped out. That small part died as soon as he heard the glass hit the floor in the silence. He pushed the minute hand back and watched as his environment folded in on itself before expanding as somewhere different this time. He was outside on a dead little street just around the corner. The exact spot he had been only twenty minutes ago.
He poked out on around the corner to see Officer Fields come out looking wholly downtrodden and with her radio in her hand. Again, he felt wretched. He watched her lean against her patrol car, still hesitating to use the radio in her hand. He looked down at the now useless watch with twisted hands and a scorched face.
He looked back the way he had come. It would be so easy to just leave. Let the officer and ungrateful attendant wonder what happened for the rest of their lives. They’d have no memory of him, nothing on camera, or even notes. No idea if it was a man or woman, young or old.
No explanation or witnesses to back up the attendant’s claims. Sure that the robber would still be convicted. However, the lack of an answer would still stand out. Her chief would undoubtedly be peeved, and she would probably have to bear the brunt of the repercussions for his decisions.
He groaned at his own stupidity as he completely rounded the corner and started off towards her. The argument weakly persisted inside of himself. There was still the choice to just leave. Even the words on her notes will have disappeared and his image on the cameras.
It would be like a ghost did it all, he might even become a suburban myth. The Phantom Vigilante! Yet here he was jogging towards her with waving arms.
She looked up at him in confusion as he came to a stop and said, “Hey, sorry to interrupt you. I was passing by when all that mess in there happened and got scared and took off. I bet I had run halfway across the city before I realized how dumb I was being. You need a statement or something I bet.”
“Yes, it’s a good thing you thought about your mistake, too,” she said and softly added, “Thank you for coming back, though, you’re doing the right thing.”
So the tale started off how he was just an innocent bystander that was on the other side of the street when he saw the robbery taking place. Of course, in the story, he was just a coward that stood frozen as another person, someone brave with a hood on, charged through the door and took down the criminal in one move with some quick thinking.
“I see, well, thank you very much, Mr. Finn. You did the right thing by coming back. Your statement may be a big help if I can even begin to piece together who this other guy was. One last thing, do you happen to know if this vigilante was wearing really round glasses by chance? I think I may have found a lens on the ground,” she said.
Finn slowly shook his head and said, “Well, um, I don’t really know. It’s dark and all, and he was running on the other side of the street. I guess I really couldn’t tell you if he was wearing glasses.”
She nodded and asked, “Right, actually, one more last thing, I’m sorry. Could I have some contact info for you? In case there’s anything else we need clarification on.”
“That’s really not necessary, is it? I don’t even have a phone after all,” he tried to weasel out of it.
She stopped him and said, “It’s necessary. An address will do just fine, sir.”
He sighed and gave in as he gave out his address and was bid a good night. He shuffled off back down the street as soon as the option to leave came up with barely a goodbye or good luck. Even kicking himself as hard as he could for going back, but he still felt it was the right thing. A sickening feeling weighed in his gut that this was not yet over.