most of the participants in apprehension anonymous took the subway, and a few walked, because the only parking was so far away from the site and so expensive. but not frankie. frankie was a good american in this regard at least, that he was terrified of the subway, which he had hardly ever taken in his life, and he never walked anywhere. if he had to walk a mile and a half to a parking lot or garage, that was still driving and not walking.
he had stopped at a convenience store to buy a bottle of water and some candy bars, so he was still wheezing up the street when he saw the two fat men pull the young woman - brenda? - into the van.
he was flabbergasted and terrified. the van was pointed right in his direction, only a little more than a block away. where could he go? he would have to try to squeeze into a doorway! then it was over before he had a chance to grasp what was happening and be really frightened. the van accelerated into a screeching hard left down the street in front of him and to his right and was gone. he collapsed against the wall of an office building, his heart pounding.
when he caught his breath his hand reached automatically for his cell phone, then stopped. he had already recovered enough from his fright to start to be pissed off about the whole affair. didn't he have enough problems, without having to deal with a lot of questions from the stupid police? if they caught the guys - he now sincerely hoped they didn't - he would be a witness. the trial might take years! and what idiots those guys were! it was late at night and not "broad daylight" but it might as well have been for all the precautions they seemed too be taking. maybe they were being pulled over right now - he hoped so, then they wouldn't need him to testify.
on the other hand, if he didn't call, he would be consumed by guilt. frankie hated guilt more than anything, and attended his guilt anonymous sessions most assiduously of all his meetings. he punched 911 and put the phone to his face. it didn't work! it must be the tall buildings. ha, ha! he could just go on his way with no guilt. he had tried hadn't he - that was all anybody could ask!
but maybe he should look for a pay phone. didn't he see something in the sunday paper that they were making a comeback? and he would have to call anyway when he got home or even before, if he could make a connection. frustration washed over him. he finally started walking again toward the parking garage.
wait. why hadn't he thought of it before? maybe those guys were just making a movie. of course! the "director" - the "auteur" - was probably in the back of the van with a camcorder making his piece of doodoo that he would put on youtube and become the new scorsese or luis bunuel. the woman looked like brenda but there a million women with those kinds of looks in the city. that was it! he'd call the police just in case but they would agree with him. no trial! he started to feel much better.
but his thoughts were interrupted by a police car coming down the street toward him. automatically, like the good citizen he was, he waved it down.
the two cops in the car were young, mean looking, and male - how frankie would have preferred at least one female! the driver was black, the other asian (vietnamese?) the asian one looked at him, politely enough.
frankie told them his story, emphasizing that his cell phone didn't work. so far from giving him any kind of hard time, they were both so excited by his account they could hardly sit still in the car.
"you say he went down that way, just a couple of minutes ago?" the black cop asked frankie.
"did you get a license number?"
frankie felt like an idiot. "no."
" just stay right there, sir, someone will come by to pick you up."
they took a left and roared off in the direction the van had taken. frankie was left alone on the empty street.
he started to feel afraid. just stay there? for the first time it occurred to him, what if the van came back? maybe they had seen him and had been arguing this whole time about whether to go back after him - and now they were circling back to get him!