The Man On The Bench

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Everyday the girls get together at Rachel's house for a morning coffee. Everyday they watch the old man sitting across from their window, sitting on a bench. Wondering about what he could possibly be doing sitting their every morning. The girls will soon find out, the wondering is about to end...

Submitted: August 06, 2017

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Submitted: August 06, 2017

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The Man On The Bench

Everyday an old man walks up to a bench and takes a seat. He then grabs for a bag next to him and reaches inside. He retrieves a warm blueberry muffin and gently tears of a small piece. The old man inspects the piece of muffin for a handful of seconds, and proceeds to toss the bit into his mouth. Peacefully chewing, he beholds the sight in front of him. After ten minutes the old man is done. He throws the remainder of the muffin to the birds and packs up his things. Taking one look back at the sight, he starts his brisk walk away and prepares for his return the next day.

 

There he goes again. Whispers Carmen.

 

How long has he been there? Five, ten minutes? Inquirers Rachel.

 

I say ten. Responds Jackie.

 

What's he doing? What's he looking at? Asks Carmen.

 

Us? Or maybe our kids. I know the bus stop is close to here. Answers Lucy.

 

No, your just being paranoid. He's just an old man. Explains Rachel.

 

That's how he wants you to view him! That's how they all want you too! Says Carmen.

 

They? Asks Lucy.

 

The stalkers and pedophiles. The woman watchers and kidnappers. Exclaims Carmen.

 

Come on Carmen, look at him! Do you see a pedophile? Demands Rachel.

 

Why else would he sit on that bench eating the same muffin every day for the last three years? Demands Carmen.

 

I sure think there's more too it. No one would bother getting up in the morning just to sit on a bench outside in the cold. Continues Carmen.

 

It doesn't look like he has anywhere else to go. Look at him! He's obviously homeless. Counters Lucy.

 

Guys! Your both assuming. Maybe he just likes having some place outside of home to sit and relax. Says Rachel, trying to calm everyone down.

 

I agree with Rachel. You guys are overthinking it. And besides, if he really wanted to do something, wouldn't he of done it by now? Asks Lucy.

 

The conversation is interrupted by the brief vibration of a phone. Carmen picks up her phone and begins to read the screen. She then shoves the phone gently into her pocket and gathers her belongings.

 

Ok girls, I have to go. But I'm still not convinced. Whatever he's up too, it's not good. Says Carmen on her way out.

 

Bye Carmin! Says the other three women.

 

Well I best be going too, the house won't clean itself. Says Lucy.

 

Yeah, thanks for the coffee. But my shift starts soon at the café and I need to take a quick shower before hand. Says Jackie.

 

Well, see you guys tomorrow. Same time same place. Shouts Rachel.

 

As the door slams shut, Rachel breathes a sigh of relief. Ever since that man started sitting on the bench, he's been the focus of the women's morning coffee conversation. The girls consistently push to have the morning coffee at Rachel's house so they can keep an eye on the mysterious man. Rachel has had enough. She quickly cleans up the small living room and proceeds to the kitchen to retrieve the broom. Taking only six minutes, she's able to place all the cups in the sink, sweep the floor and wash her face. She needs to get ready to go to her job. She strides over to her bedroom and opens up her spruce wood dresser. She always liked that colour, you can tell because everything in the house either compliments it or is a certain tone of it. She pulls out her work clothes and digs inside to find her badge. She quickly gets changed and puts her hair into a bun. Now she's ready for work. If only she enjoyed it.

 

Rachel works at the downtown cemetery. She walks the rows upon rows of stones and watches for intruders. She compares herself to a security guard but she knows that's a far stretch. All she's equipped with is a flashlight and a radio to call in backup. She's been working here for five years and still hasn't received the expected raise. Everyday she walks her route, she's never seen anything interesting. The most she's seen is someone coming to pay their respects, and in that case she tries to keep her distance. She's not the most open person, and she doesn't like dealing with sadness. Funny, for a person who's quite sad herself. Trying to keep occupied, Rachel picks a name from one of the stones and creates a mini story inside her head about their life. One time she found a Bobby Michaels. Bobby Michaels was a salesman for toe fungal cream. One day he was trying to sell it to an unlucky man, when he tripped and fell onto the roadway. Sadly for him, the traffic was busy that day. Another story that she enjoyed was the one of Jane Doe. In her mind, Jane Doe sounded like a young soul who lost her way. She was so lost, that she didn’t even know her own name. Because of that, people called her Jane Doe. When Jane turned twenty, she decided to go for a stroll into the forest to make some new animal friends. Sadly for Jane, she forgot where she was. Minutes after, she fell into a deep and dark hole. Rachel doesn’t know why she creates these fantasies in her head, all she knows is that it keeps her going. Sometimes she wishes she could create her own life story, filling it with all her childhood dreams. She's always wanted a family, but was never able to support a baby. Adoption just wasn’t a choice for her, she’s always felt that she needed it to be truly hers. Kids would definitely be in her life story. Thinking about this led her to come up with her own death, she didn’t want a painful one. Nor one that would deem her as stupid. She decided that her death needed to be perfect, but unusual. Something she would be proud of, as much as she could. Her ideal death would be risking her life for another’s, and dieing in the process. She’d much rather stay alive, but if she had to go, that’s how she would want it.

 

As the sun set over the horizon, Rachel knew her shift was over. Similar to every other day, she get’s in her car and prepares for the drive to Lodus. Lodus is the cafe that Jackie works at. As she arrives at the cafe, she takes in the familiar sight. Rachel's always loved the green and pink combination of the place. She especially liked the double doors that were purposely painted to match the color of spruce wood, her favourite. Rachel exits her car making sure to close the door behind herself. She loped towards the doors and placed her hand on the dark steel handle. With the ring of a bell, she opens the doors. Once inside, she sits at her usual meeting spot and waits for Jackie. Jackie will either be right on time or extremely late. Usually the latter. To keep occupied, Rachel trys counting how many little squares make up the floor. As she reaches the fifty fourth square, a familiar face catches her eye. Jackie was running towards her booth, wearing a happy grin.

 

Sorry I’m late! Apologies Jackie.

 

No need, it’s become a regular time now. Replies Rachel.

 

Jackie laughs a bit uncomfortably. She sits herself down and continues the conversation.

 

You look a bit out of it today Rachel, is everything going smooth? Asks Jackie.

 

My job becomes worse by the day. I’m honestly considering quitting.

 

Well you know, there's always a position available for you here. Implies Jackie.

 

I’ll keep that in consideration. Smiles Rachel.

 

Rachel excuses herself from the table and the girls say their goodbyes. As Rachel approaches her car, something peculiar catches her attention. At first, it appeared to be a large animal running. But as it neared, Rachel noticed what or should she say, whom it really was. The thing running towards her was the old man. The one that the girls talk about everyday. The one that Rachel believes to know everything about, but has never actually participated in a conversation with. The one that, in a way, Rachel feared. Rachel’s eyes widened as the man kept running. Finally, her instincts told her to jump out of the way. The old man continued to run and passed Rachel, barely missing her sprawled body on the ground. Panting, Rachel quickly looked around and waited for the man to be completely out of view. As she waited, a faint “sorry” could be heard from far away. Jackie noticed her friend Rachel on the ground and rushed outside to see what happened.

 

Rachel! Rachel! Are you alright! Screamed Jackie as she came to Rachel’s side.

 

The…. the man. Rachel stuttered.

 

What man! What happened! Demanded Jackie.

 

I’ll…. I’ll tell you later. Said Rachel, still shocked by what just happened.

 

By this time, a crowd started to form around Rachel and Jackie. Everyone stared, completely confused and anxious to know what had happened. Rachel slowly got to her feet and walked to her car.

 

Where are you going? Asked Jackie.

 

Home. Replied Rachel.

 

Rachel opened her car door and got inside. As she started to drive, she watched the crowd staring her down as if she was the criminal.

 

Rachel decided to cancel the girls routine morning get together. She needed some time alone. All last night her phone was ringing with people asking about the event in front Lodus. She decided that it would be best if her phone was turned off. It was seven forty five in the morning and Rachel was still lying in bed. Usually, she’d be up and about. She decided that she couldn’t stay in bed forever, so she got up and walked downstairs. Rachel made herself a nice hot coffee and stood looking outside her front window. Rachel dropped her coffee. She stared in awe at the sight in front of her. The bench was empty. For the past three years she’s come downstairs and peeked at the man on the bench. But today, there was no man. No muffin. No bag. Just an empty bench. Rachel rushed upstairs, running through the coffee spilled on the ground. She ran straight for her phone and turned it on. Her phone started to vibrate as if it was an awoken monster. Hundreds of notifications lit up her lock screen. Most of which, were a link to a news article. Rachel clicked the link. There on her screen, was a news article titled: Thousands stand silent for horrifying death of William Baker. Just underneath was a photo of the old man, mostly blurred out but the face was still recognisable. He was the old man on the bench. The photo showed him lying on the ground, beaten up. Rachel couldn’t take it anymore, she closed her phone and laid it on the dresser. She crawled into bed and pulled the sheets high over her head. She laid there, motionless for minutes. As soon as she managed to close her eyes, there was a knock at the door.

 

Police! Open up! Yelled a man. The man then proceeded to knock again.

 

Rachel froze, things just got a lot worse.

 

Rachel ran downstairs and placed her right hand onto the handle of the door. A bit hesitant, she opened the door. There, on her doormat, were two police officers. One female and one male. Behind them was their police cruiser.

 

Hello, maam. Said the male officer. He talked with a southern accent.

 

All Rachel could do was stare.

 

The female officer chimed in. Hi, we just want to ask you a few questions about William Baker. It won’t take long. She explained with a smile. She sounded more british.

 

Ok. Come in. Rachel muttured. She tried her hardest to reflect the woman's smile.  

 

Rachel went inside and left the door open for the two officers to come inside. She readied some coffee for the two while they waited in the living room. She could hear a conversation happening in the other room but she couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. As the coffee maker grinded to a halt, she prepared a cookie tray for her guests. She brought the coffee and cookies over to the officers.

 

So, you said you wanted to speak to me about someone? Asked Rachel, when everyone was seated.

 

The male officer took a sip of his coffee and laid back in his chair. Yes, William Baker. He said after swallowing the coffee.

 

He was the man that you had a little encounter with last night. Explained the female officer.

 

Well.. What do you want to know? Inquired Rachel.

 

We just what to know what happened. Replied the male officer.

 

Rachel straightened in her seat. She's never had any problems with the police before and she absolutely hates confrontation.

 

Well…. Rachel started. I was leaving the coffee shop.

 

The female officer took out a brown leather notebook and clicked open her pen. She started to take notes.

 

And, as I was walking towards my car, I saw something. Rachel continued. Or someone. The old man. Ah. William. She corrected herself. Was running straight towards me.

 

Did you see the expression on his face? Inquired the female officer. Was he angry or confused?

 

He looked lost. Rachel answered.

 

The female officer wore a confused expression on her face. After waiting a couple seconds, she continued to copy notes.

 

The man, was running so fast… I had to jump out of his way. Rachel recounted. He ran straight past me.

 

Was that the last you saw of him? It was the male officer’s turn now.

 

Yes. Rachel replied.

 

The two officers started at each other for a moment. When they were ready, the female officer closed her notebook and placed it in her pocket along with the pen. They both stood up and shook Rachel’s hand.

 

Thank you. Whispered the woman officer. We’ll be in touch.

 

The two officers left the house as Rachel breathed a sigh of relief.

 

Rachel thought it would be best to call in sick today. She went to her computer and pressed on the button to turn it on. It flashed the familiar Apple logo and she proceeded to log in. She opened up Safari and looked up William Baker. The first results were about a fashion designer. Rachel was quick to dismiss this one, as the old man looked as though he wasn’t well off when it comes to money. After came a structural engineer, and Rachel thought there was no resemblance between the old man and that guy. After those, many links to news articles about the death were shown. Rachel kept scrolling, she felt as though there was something yet to be discovered. As she scrolled down and down, she stopped upon a link that caught her eye. In bright black lettering, it reads: William Baker’s biggest heist. Rachel clicks on the link, scared but interested in what lies ahead. To her dismay, it turns out the webpage was reviewing an old nineteen ninety eight book called The Money Flows by Charles Webber. Rachel turned off her computer. She needed to get some fresh air.

 

Rachel quickly got dressed and walked down into the kitchen. She passed the newly formed stain on her rug and opened up her cupboard. The officers took her last cups of coffee. Saddened by the lack of caffeine, she decided to drive to the cafe at the local library. She reached for her phone when suddenly a thought came across her mind. Does she really need the distraction? She grabbed her keys, deciding not to bring her phone. As she got into her car, she tried to think happy thoughts.

 

After what felt like hours, she arrived at the library. Once inside, she found her usual spot to sit. Only to find out that there were people already there. Rachel mumbled something underneath her breath as she sat at the adjacent table. The waiter soon came by.

 

Hello! Chimed the waiter. How may I help you?

 

Can I get a coffee? Black. Asked Rachel, not in the mood for greetings.

 

Ok, it’ll be ready shortly. The waiter smiled and turned away. He took the hint that the person he was serving wasn’t in a talking mood.

 

As she waited for her coffee, a group of teenage girls walked in and sat at the booth across from her. The girls were talking about gossip and boys when suddenly something took their attention.

 

Is that her? Questioned one of the girls.

 

Who? Asked another.

 

The girl who almost got hit by that guy! Answered the girl.

 

As if the girls were all controlled by one, their heads jumped and froze staring at Rachel. Rachel got up and ran. She didn’t care what they thought of her. She just ran and ran. She ran up the stairs to the fifth level of the library when she needed to stop or she thought she might faint. Rachel wasn’t the fittest of her friends. She felt Carmen was always one step ahead. Of course, Carmen didn’t drink nearly as much coffee as Rachel does. Rachel ducked behind the bookshelves and started to comb through the books. As she was looking at a book called Spicers Secret, a lady came up to her.

 

Can I help you with anything? Asked the lady.

She looked like she was in her mid thirties, brown hair, reading glasses and she was wearing a green blouse with dark blue jeans. The lady seemed to carry an air of sophistication around with her, like a professor or scholar. Rachel didn’t know how to describe it, but the lady seemed oddly familiar.

 

Maam?

 

Great, thought Rachel, now she thinks I’m weird.

 

Oh sorry, I was just looking for a book. Rachel responded.

 

Which one, I can help you find it. The lady offered.

 

Um.. I’m not sure.. Good going Rachel, she thought, that’ll help.

 

You’re not sure? The lady questioned, curiosity building up in her brain.

 

Come on Rachel, think, what’s a book? Rachel wondered. She didn’t want to look stupid in front of someone who had a presence so powerful.

 

The Money Flows. By.. Charles Webber. That's the book! Would you happen to have a copy of it anywhere in this library?  

 

Certainly! Replied the lady. She gestured to the parallel bookshelves. The lady walked towards where she pointed and told Rachel to follow her. When Rachel and the lady arrived to the other side, the lady pulled out a dark brown book. On the front, written in yellowish white font were the words: The Money Flows. Rachel reached for the book and placed it into her jacket. The two women exchanged goodbyes and Rachel started her descent to her car. She had already had enough of this library.

 

It was four thirty six in the afternoon. This day felt as though it were a century. Rachel had been lying in bed for the past two hours, thinking about the past few days. After boredom started to sink in, Rachel started looking for things to do. She tried scrubbing the coffee stain out of the rug but it was no use. She tried going online but she couldn't stop seeing posts about William. She decided to finally take a peek at the book she got from the library. How bad could it be. She opened the book and read the title:

The Money Flows, by Charles Webber.

 

Five hours passed by and Rachel showed no signs of stopping. The words acted as though they were speaking to her and she felt the book consume her. Word after word, page after page, chapter after chapter she read and read. At ten twenty one, Rachel was finally at the last chapter. She read about William, how he pulled off the biggest heist in history. She read about heartbreak, as Williams loving wife passed away shortly after the robbery. The book finished:

 

William stood, looking at the sunrise, remembering the many moments he spent with his beloved wife. He recalled memories of her favourite blueberry muffins, oh how she loved those. As the day commenced, William took a seat at the nearest bench. He earlier stole a blueberry muffin from the local bakery. As he took out the muffin, tears began to fill his eyes. He pulled off a piece and held it peaked through the horizon, he slipped the piece into his mouth. He peacefully chewed the piece until completion. As he swallowed the small crumb of muffin, anger started to cloud his brain. He ripped the muffin and threw it away, far away. He arose, screaming at the top of his lungs. For with each sight of the sun, he remembers his loss of the one he loves. The End.

 

Rachel sat there thinking. Finding similarities in the two men. They couldn't possibly be connected, could they? Rachel sat there, thoughts filling her head. As she closed her eyes, the sound of footsteps filled the house. Scared, Rachel reached for her phone. The footsteps neared. She fumbled with her phone. It was still off from before. She tried to turn it on, but it was always really slow. The sound of footsteps reached her front door. She sat up in her bed, awaiting the uninvited entrance. Was she ready to die? Rachel couldn't tell. She elated thought of her death as something far away, something that would happen in her sleep when she was one hundred and two. Not now, not like this. The door squeaked open and Rachel froze in awe. There, at the door, was…. William Baker. The old man walked in and looked around. As his eyes met the book lying on the bed, his expression changed from anger to sadness. He was wearing the same clothes as the day before, though he seemed to have inexplicably gained a portion of weight near his right breast. Rachel, still awaiting the old man to break the silence, started to silently cry. The old man looked apologetically at Rachel, as if the next event was to be regretted.

 

I'm sorry. The old man explained. You know too much.

 

A light bulb clicked in Rachel's head as the old man stepped closer. The bludge by his breast, was a gun. A loud bang, followed by smoke filled the room. Rachel's lifeless body fell into her bed. Her eyes stayed open, capturing her last emotion felt on earth. There she laid, lifeless, on her bed. The old man thought it would be best if he covered her in a blanket, so she wouldn't be uncomfortable. Already, the white blanket accepted its new red color. The old man stepped out the door, but hesitated a moment. She quickly turned back and grabbed the book. He wouldn't want the police finding that. He shot the computer and her phone. Then he left.

 

William Baker was never seen again….


The end.

 


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