AUTHOR'S NOTE: Here's a repeat of Dave's introduction, followed by my solution to the Can You? Challenge. I hope you enjoy it.
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The girl behind the counter was giving me what I assumed to be her professional smile; bright as a light bulb and just as empty. I ordered my usual café mocha with a shot of white chocolate and searched for a table in the crowded coffee shop. I sat at one next to the big bay windows so that the sun coming through the glass could warm my chilled bones. I’ve turned into a people watcher in my old age and I’ve found that a window seat gives you the chance to watch those without as well as within and that appeals to the writer in me. I had just settled in when my coffee arrived. I pulled out my notebook, took a sip, and began my observation. My jotted notes, some real and some made up, were an attempt to come up with a character for my next short story.
As I watched the people passing through for their morning cups of joe; one man caught my attention and all thoughts of writing flew out of my head. Years of anti-terrorism training from my time in the military kicked in and a feeling of wrongness was coming off this cat in waves. It was a combination of seemingly unimportant details that put it all together for me. It was cold outside, and this man was wearing what looked like a military issue rain coat to go with the dress uniform. No military member would wear it unbuttoned like that, old habits die hard. It hung loose and the belt was askew. He paced nervously in line, as though inpatient to get his coffee and go. His hand kept straying to the inside of his coat as if to check that something was secure in there. His eyes darted back and forth taking a mental count of how many people were present and he took special note of me, identifying me as a potential threat…military training for sure.
“Sir? Can I help you sir?” the girl behind the counter said.
“Yeah, you can shut the fuck up and empty the register!” the man screamed as he pulled a sawed off, pump action, .12 gauge shotgun from under his trench coat. He fired a single shot into the air. Plaster from the ceiling tiles rained down around him. He’s certainly not the brightest crayon in the box is he. He leveled the gun at me.
“One wrong move mister and you’ll be sipping coffee in hell,” he said.
Just my luck...
The other customers froze in fear. The man pointed the gun in my direction but turned his head to the girl behind the counter.
"I don't have all fucking day!" he yelled.
Scared, she quickly started to empty the money in the cash register into a brown paper bag.
I took the opportunity to rise from my chair and point my pen in his direction. Pressing on the clip, I fired a dart from the pen into the side of his neck.
Instantly, he reeled as the poison took effect. He grimaced, gripping his neck and fell against an elderly woman behind him. She screamed under his weight.
A man in a suit and tie called the police with his iPhone. "Attempted robbery. The thief may be dead."
The customers crowded around the still body.
"I'm a nurse," said a woman in a navy coat. She checked for a pulse. The nurse shook her head.
A boy said, "You killed him mister."
"You saved us! You're a hero. What's your name?" asked the manager.
"Bond. James Bond." I put the pen back in my chest pocket. I'd always been a closet writer, writing under a pseudonym. Maybe someday I'd write about this event as many other escapades in my career.
I left the coffee shop in search of a dry martini.