Harvey carefully stretched his right hand forward. Nothing could distract him from this, nothing at all as he moved with complete deliberation and the kind of concentration found only on an operating table. With the utmost care, Harvey gradually moved his hand forward, careful not to disturb the fragile balance between it, and the rest of the waking world. He could feel the sweat begin to accumulate on his palm with the effort, a sense of dread beginning to sink into his stomach, a moments hesitation. And it was over.
“The hell are you doing?”
Harvey looked up, straight into the angry beet red face of a well dressed man who weighed roughly about the same as a baby porpoise. Normally Harvey would have taken the opportunity to provide a legitimate explanation, had his right hand not been wrapped around the top of the mans wallet.
“Well,” said Harvey, “shit.” And with that, he spun on his heels, and sprinted away down the street, fully aware of the screams and accusations that followed him, scoundrel, pig, brigand, and of course, thief.
“Stop him! Stop the bastard!” cried the fat man. Harvey fought through the painful stitch in his side while he gasped for breath, afraid that he was about to pass out. He rounded a corner, hoping to find an entrance to the intricate network of alleys that stitched the city together, but instead he found himself standing straight in the path of a steam cart, barrelling straight towards him.
The crude train shaped bronze machine plowed down the street as Harvey and the conductor exchanged a look of terror. The conductor shrieked and yanked on the pull cord, releasing a high pitched whistle and a jut of steam. Harvey leapt to the side hoping against hope that he would clear the steam cart, and not end up as another sorry red stain on the wheels, of which there were already plenty. At the same time the conductor swerved the bronze giant in the opposite direction, more out of reflex than concern for Harvey, as it was policy to simply blow the whistle and hope people got out of the way. As Harvey landed on the hard cobblestone, he immediately began crawling as quick as he could towards an alley entrance between two buildings, which he knew to be a brothel and a kindergarten. As he pulled himself to his feet, he heard a thundering crash, and then the ear splitting screech of metal.
He turned and saw that in the process of swerving, the conductor had tipped the steam cart on its side, sending one ton of bronze machinery skidding down the street, sparks shooting up all around it. Harvey stared in awe as people screamed and ran for their lives, the entire street was chaos as people shoved and trampled each other in their attempts to remove themselves from the path of the roaring death trap. Those who couldn't were the most audible. Eventually the steam cart came to a grinding halt, and an eerie calm filled the air. Harvey turned, and walked down the alleyway, away from the catastrophe he felt partly responsible for.
“He shouldn't have turned.” he said under his breath. Harvey doubled over, clutching the stitch in his side. He continued to gasp for breath, fighting against the terrible sensation growing in his stomach until it forced itself up and over his left shoe. Wiping the vomit from his mouth with the back of his hand, he stood upright before feeling another wave of sick begin to shoot up, he didn't try to fight it this time, instead focusing on not puking on himself again. Tentatively, he walked away from the steaming puddle he created, then sank to the floor with his back against the wall of one of the buildings. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a lighter and a bent cigarette, and began to smoke.
“Yeah, cause that's a good idea” came a mocking sarcastic voice. Harvey looked up and saw a woman with short red hair and a pretty face sneering at him from a second story window.
“How are you Mary?” he called up to her, “not spending too much time on your back I hope?”
“Kiss my ass Harvey.” she yelled back, her face flushing in anger.
“You know I would,” Harvey said, flashing an empty smile “I just don't think I can afford it right now.” He was pleased to see his words had had their intended effect. Mary, who was now practically trembling with anger, glared down at him.
“Well at least I can run a block and still keep my lunch down.” She hissed back at him.
“What this?” Harvey said gesturing at the steaming puddle of bile, “That was like that when I got here.”
“HA, you're a good enough liar Harvey, but I kinda saw the whole thing so...”
“Crap...” he said, taking a long drag of his cigarette.
“Its alright Harvey,” she said in malicious sing song voice, “I'm only going to tell everyone.”
“Well aren't you a peach Mary.” he said, keeping his composure calm.
“Did ya manage to snag it by the way?”
“Come on Harvey,”
“Come on Harvey what?”
“Did you steal the damn wallet Harvey!”
“I honestly have no idea what you're talking about” he replied maintaining his blank expression. There was a full minute of silence as Mary stared at him angrily expecting an answer. Harvey however, felt in no way inclined to give her one.
“Screw off Harvey!” she shouted eventually while beginning to close the shutters.
“Hold on!” Harvey shouted back, tossing his finished cigarette into the vomit puddle, “Is Karl in?”
Mary scoffed at the question. “Of course he is, but he's a bit indisposed at the moment, he took Susie and Goldie upstairs about five minutes ago.” She smiled malevolently then added, “I'll send him down when he's done, and you can try explaining to him why there's an upturned street car and a pool of vomit out here.” Then, after flipping Harvey the bird, she shut the window. Harvey let out a long tired noise that was somewhere between a groan and a sigh, and began to search the many pockets of his jacket for another cigarette.
© Copyright 2016 RustledFish. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Action and Adventure
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