It was a cool autumn evening when he decided to go for a walk. Other than the rustle of fallen leaves pushed by the wind and the occasional dog barking, the neighborhood was quiet. As a result, he was rather surprised when a car stopped on the street next to him and two men in dark suits emerged.
“Please come with us, sir.”
His first thought was that they should be wearing sunglasses. Of course, the fact that it was night meant that sunglasses would make them rather conspicuous. They probably weren’t going for conspicuous.
“Who are you?”
The looks on their faces made it clear they weren’t going to answer that. “Get in the car, and things will be explained.”
As lies went, it wasn’t very convincing. But what choice did he have? These two looked prepared to force him into the car, and he was ill-equipped to fight them. Seeing no alternative, he shrugged and got into the back seat.
The driver returned to the wheel, and the other man got in the passenger seat. The windows in the back were blacked out, not merely tinted, and there was a divider between the front and back seats that obscured both light and sound. All of this made it impossible to determine where they were going. That they left him alone in the back suggested they weren’t worried he’d escape, so the doors probably didn’t open from the inside. He decided not to test his hypothesis.
Instead, he spent his time speculating. They probably weren’t cops, he decided. Maybe they were FBI; they had that kind of vibe. But it was probably too stereotypical. CIA? Some other, more clandestine organization? Maybe they weren’t even with the government. No option was very reassuring. Whoever they were, they didn’t seem likely to be his friends.
As they drove, his uneasiness grew. It felt as though they drove for hours with lots of turns. When they finally stopped, and he was ushered out of the car, he found himself in a long steel hangar.
There was a jet, dark and unmarked. If they were trying to convey a sense of mystery… well, this was overkill. A single person waited, a middle-aged man with thinning, greying hair. He, too, wore a suit. And smoked a cigar, of course.
The driver nodded to him as they got out of the car. He nodded to the driver, but his face turned angry when he caught sight of their passenger. “What is this?”
“We brought him, as you asked.” The driver sounded confused.
“That isn’t him, you idiot.”
“He was right where you told us. The 300 block of Oak Street.”
“North or South?”
The driver looked at his partner, a little panic showing on his face. His partner just shook his head. The driver turned back, “South?”
“Argh! You picked up the wrong guy. Get rid of him while I try to fix this.” The man pulled out a cell phone and stomped off.
The driver turned to his partner once more and motioned to the back seat. The other man pushed him back into the car and slammed the door shut. Hearing both front doors close, he felt the car’s engine start and the vehicle begin to move.
Pleading probably wouldn’t work. They didn’t seem likely to be moved by emotional appeals. He wanted to point out that he hadn’t learned anything so there was really no need to… “get rid of him.” If they would just let him go, he would promise not to say anything.
But that wouldn’t work, he was sure. Instead, he would have to try to run for it. The back doors were locked from the inside, as he had guessed. He would have to wait for them to open the door and try to push past them.
When the car stopped, he prepared to launch himself out the passenger side door. But when it opened, the scene before him made him forget his plans. Outside the car was his neighborhood.
“Here you are, sir. Sorry for the inconvenience.” The man held the door open.
He slowly climbed out of the car and just stood there look at the man who had taken him off this very street, unsure of what to say or do. The man simply nodded at him, got back into the passenger seat, and the car drove off. All he could think to do was continue his walk.
And he made sure not to go North.