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Sam pulled up in front of the store and parked in the loading zone. It was already getting warm so he took off his jacket and tossed it in the back seat. Walking towards the store, he stopped on the sidewalk, pulled off his sunglasses, and looked up and down the street. He hated this part of town. It was home to all the low-rent scum that made decent people afraid to go out at night. They should just bulldoze the whole neighbourhood – buildings, people, all of it. He tucked his sunglasses into his shirt pocket and went inside.
Mr. Wu was on the floor scrubbing the dried blood from the stained linoleum. Scraps of police tape still hung from the display racks. Sam walked up and stood over Wu, his arms folded in front of him in his most intimidating pose. “You missed a spot.”
“What do you want? I’ve already lost a day’s worth of sales thanks to you cops. That’s more than I would have lost to that stupid punk. Next time I’ll just give him the money. Let the insurance pay me back.”
“You know what they say. No good deed goes unpunished.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the photo. Unfolding it, he held the picture in front of Wu’s face. “This guy was here yesterday. You know him?”
Wu looked up long enough to see the face in the photo. “Yeah, he comes in here sometimes. I don’t know his name but he must live nearby.”
“Did he ever pay with a credit card? Maybe you have a receipt with his name on it?”
“No. Most people around here pay with cash. Which is fine by me. Then again, maybe if they started paying with credit cards, I wouldn’t get robbed all the time.” Wu returned to scrubbing the floor. “Or maybe if you did your job and stopped bothering me.”
“If you see him, tell him I need to speak with him. I’ll leave you my card on the counter.”
“Fine. Fine. But if you’re not going to buy something, get out of my store. I’ve seen enough cops to last me a lifetime.”
“Well, that’s gratitude for you,” Sam mumbled as he walked out. He wondered how Wu would feel the next time he needed their help. It might take them a while to get there. The police were very busy these days.
He got back in his car and pulled out into traffic. He had not gone half a block when the car suddenly died. The gauges all dropped off and the police radio went silent. It must be a loose battery connection, he thought. Easy to fix but still annoying. As the car drifted to a stop, he cursed his luck. This was the perfect end to the worst day of his life.
He leaned back and took a deep breath, trying to gather his thoughts and not lose his temper. He closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened the again he was surprised to see a man run across the street. Not an unusual event in itself, but it was made remarkable by the fact that this was the very man he was searching for. Momentarily stunned by the sudden appearance, all he could do was watch as the man made his way down the sidewalk.
He snapped back to his senses when the radio suddenly came back to life and an irritated horn sounded behind him. He turned the key and started the engine. Turning around, he went to follow this mystery man. Something strange was definitely going on with this guy, he thought. And I’m going to get to the bottom of it.