You’re a taxi driver in a one-light town. You’ve arrived at the county library to pick up your passenger, a girl no older than thirteen. She says, “You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of that restaurant, and I want you to follow him.”
He laughed, though was somewhat irritated. “What do I look like to you, some kind of P.I.?”
When she handed him a wad of bills, his laughter died on his lips. He gave her a suspicious look, holding the bills up to the light to see if they were fakes.
“Four hundred,” she said.
“Four hundred…” he repeated, hardly believing his eyes. “What’s the catch?”
“No catch,” she said. “All you have to do is follow him, and don’t let him lose you.”
“I’ve seen some crazy shi-stuff in my day,” he said, catching his language. “But this takes the cake. How old are you, anyway?”
“Doesn’t matter. Do you want the money or not?”
He frowned and shoved the bills into his wallet. Of course he wanted the money, but he also wanted answers that it did not seem he would be getting any time soon.
She nodded, then leaned in silence against the door, watching the restaurant. He kept his eye on it as well, mumbling to himself the entire time about this being the craziest darn thing that ever happened to him and won’t the fellas down at the station get a laugh. He even briefly wondered if this was some gag they were playing on him, but a thought to the money quickly forestalled that.
Just as she said, around five minutes later a man in a business suit stepped out and lit up a cigarette.
“Yes,” she said.
The man gave a slow look to his surroundings before turning north on foot.
The cabbie pulled into the street and started to follow. “Won’t he notice?”
“No. We’re invisible now.”
He laughed that irritated laugh again. “Sure, missy, whatever you say.”
The man walked remarkably fast, turning the corner and almost out of sight before the cabbie could catch up. The town didn’t seem large enough for all the turns he made, going here and there, even back tracking somewhat. It was clear he knew he should expect to be followed and was doing his best to throw someone off.
Some ten minutes later he stopped beside an alley, cast a furtive glance both ways, and stepped in.
“Stop,” she said, and watched the man. Half way down the alley, he pulled out a glowing key and slipped it into a door that the cabbie was certain had not been there a moment before. He stepped inside and the door disappeared.
“You can take me back to the library now.”
He floored it.
When they arrived, she got out of the cab and leaned through the front passenger window. “You won’t remember this. Sorry for the confusion you’re going to feel, but I hope the money helps.”
He blinked a few times, then looked at the girl. “Hey missy, did you need a ride or something?”
She smiled. “No, sorry. I thought you were someone I knew.”
She backed away from the cab and continued down the street toward the alley.