ongratulations, Mr. Grand! I heard about your stock, the one you purchased a week ago. It nearly doubled today." The security guard grinned and held the heavy glass door open.
"Thank you. Remember, nothing is random, Roger," Grand called over his shoulder. He adjusted the lapels on his pricey suit and made his way down the dimly-lit alley to his Mercedes Benz. Suddenly, he heard a gunshot. He hid behind his car and heard another.
"My brand-new car, ruined with bullet holes." The thought struck Grand as intolerable. He leapt into the street. "Don't shoot!"
Another shot was fired. He looked at the beautiful shine on his recently detailed car, and couldn't bring himself to use it as his shelter. He ran toward an approaching cab, ordering it to stop. The cab lurched to a stop with a horrific squeak.
The driver stuck his head out the window, "Are you nuts, sir?" he screamed in a heavy Indian accent.
The driver got out of the cab and raced toward Grand. They heard another shot. The taxi driver darted to the front of the cab and took shelter with Grand.
"Why the hell did you stop me? Don't you see you are being shot at? Are you looking for a companion in death?" he raved.
"A maniac is shooting at me for no reason," Grand said quickly. "Now take off your shirt," he ordered.
"This is no time for hanky-panky, sir! I don't care about your weird sexual fantasies. We are in the middle of crisis!"
"I need a white shirt right now, and I am willing to pay you $100 for it."
"Oh sir, I am flattered. How much will you pay for my pants? I have heard a lot about the rich people's games," the cabbie smiled knowingly.
"I am not interested in you, you idiot!" The banker peeled a $100 bill from his money clip as the driver removed his shirt. "I am not planning to die tonight. At least not this way."
Grand waved the white shirt in the air and shouted, "What do you want?"
A shot pierced the white shirt, and it flailed like a wounded bird. Then a voice said, "Nothing, sir. This is a random shooting. Nothing personal."
"Random shooting?" the banker screamed. "This is not random. If you were driving and passed me by and shot me willy-nilly--now that would be random!"
The shirtless cabbie whispered, "Sir! I don't think it's wise to argue with a man who has a gun and is shooting your way."
Grand ignored him, "What do you want? If you don't have anything against me personally, let's resolve this. How about 100 bucks?" Grand snatched the money from the driver, threw his shirt back at him. "No deal."
The driver seized the lapels of Grand's coat. "My shirt had no bullet holes when you bought it. A deal is a deal. No refund. You took my shirt, now I'll take your coat."
"Are you out of your mind, an $800 cashmere coat for a lousy shirt? Where did you learn business? You damn foreigner."
The men tussled loudly. The shooter yelled, "What is going on? We're in the middle of a shoot-out and you two are fighting over a coat?"
"Sir! It's this man's fault. He is trying to take advantage of me," the cabbie called back. He'd gotten the cashmere coat halfway off Grand.
"Who are you?"
"Krishna Swami, at your service. I'm the best driver of the Sunshine cab company."
Grand shrugged off the coat, emerged from the shelter of the cab, and shouted down the alley, "You shot more than ten times and missed me every time. You know why? Because I am not supposed to die this way tonight."
He strode confidently to his car. As he approached the middle of the street, a truck turned quickly into the unlit alley and struck him.
Grand was flung through the air. He landed on the pavement, still clutching his $100 bill. Blood slid from the corner of his mouth. He barely opened his eyes for the last time and gazed into the gentle eyes of Krishna. The driver covered him with his cashmere coat and said, "You were right, sir. You were not to die from those bullets tonight."
He sat in his cab and opened the passenger door. The shooter got in. The shooter remarked, "It's amazing how he knew he wasn't going to die from my bullets."
"Yes it is, not many people are lucky enough to know how they go. But he would have been alive if he wasn't so lucky!"
They looked at each other and the cab vanished down the black alley.
Saeed Tavakkol has been writing off and on (much more off than on) for the last fifteen years. As an obscure writer,
in his own words, he hasn't "accomplished anything yet." Last month he finally published his
of a Writer, which he believes will be collecting dust in his bedroom for years to come.
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story copyright by author 2005 all rights reserved