Donna Everhart

Up To No Good

They can be found walking down the street as if they have all the time in the world.  If she’s outside, their eyes will find her and linger just a little too long.  They continue staring, and when they get closer, she’ll kneel as if in prayer, head down, busying herself with an errant weed.  She pretends this was intentional, this sudden focus on a dandelion while hoping they won’t yell out as they’re want to do if drunk or high on crack.  She’ll feel compelled to acknowledge their presence.  She doesn’t want to, not really.  She doesn’t want the usual awkward exchange.  The way they look at her, at what she has, and what they don’t.  They always say things like, “Hey, I got me a bad cold.  I just need two dollars to get some medicine.  You got two dollars you can spare me?”  She’s always torn.  She wants to help, but, then what?  Won’t she be targeted in some way?

She just doesn’t want any trouble.

It happened while he was out on a walk with his dog.  Out of nowhere came an old Ford Expedition with a sorry looking camouflage paint job.  It circled around the block, passing him not once, but twice.  He picked up his pace a little, looking over his shoulder.  He wished he’d brought his gun.  Unbelievably, he hears the vehicle again, the distinct knocking engine.  His dog growls and on this third pass, he gives the driver a dirty look.  Semi-obscured by dark tinted windows, he sees a mop of tangled blond hair and a glimpse of a pock marked red face.  The stranger flicks a lit cigarette at his feet and guns it, an obvious attempt at intimidation.  He’s left breathing in the exhaust, like the the sulfurous fumes of hell.

He just doesn’t want any trouble.

At the grocery story, a group of individuals hang out by the corner.  Their laughter drifts across the parking lot, as if captured and carried by the strong, cold breeze.  A woman parks her car, and double checks her list for things she needs to pick up.  She half runs, half walks towards the entrance.  As she gets closer, the group, only seconds ago a raucous rowdy bunch, falls silent.  Someone snickers.  Another mumbles something she can’t quite make out.  And yet another yells, “What’cha gonna buy?  Hey, get me a double deuce, while you’re in there, baby.”  She ignores them, and the burst of laughter that trails her into the store.

She just wants to get her few things and go home.  She doesn’t want any trouble.

At the post office a young teenage girl stands at one of the convenience counters, placing stamps on a stack of envelopes.  The post office is closed.  It’s Sunday morning.  She’s alone in there, until a cool draft blows her hair and a whooshing sound from the automatic door signals someone else has entered the building.  She places the last stamp and just as she’s about to walk over to the drop box, someone steps in close behind her, reaches an arm over her right shoulder and gets a shipping label.  They’ve invaded her personal space by almost, but not quite, placing their body so close to hers, and she freezes.  From over her shoulder comes a muffled, “‘scuse me,” but there is no excuse.  She understands this person was looking to do just this.  She smells smoke, like from a wood fire, and the woodsy odor of whiskey.  She refuses to make eye contact as she hurriedly drops her mail into the overnight bin and turns to leave.  He grabs her arm.

I like to write about regular, every day people who come face to face with those who are up to no good.  The miscreants and the unwanted, the outcasts, people on the fringe.  Those desperate, dangerous, creepy, crazy people out there.

What do you like write about?

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