William Quincy Belle is just a guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and likes to recite the following which so far he hasn't been able to attribute to anyone: "A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem." You will find Mr. Belle's unbridled stream of consciousness here (http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or @here (https://twitter.com/wqbelle).
Killing Some Time
There went four hours of his life. Read a book, page through a magazine, nap, do whatever necessary to occupy himself in one of those times where there was nothing else to do but wait. Charles carried his overnight bag down the length of the bus and climbed down the steps. The driver was busy removing luggage from the undercarriage hold and several passengers waited for their bags. Travelling light had its rewards and Charles walked away having everything he needed. The smell of diesel was everywhere. It would be nice to exit the terminal and breathe air with a few less fumes.
First, a quick stop at the lockers. He fished a key out of his pocket and looked at the number on it; number fourteen. He glanced at the tags of several doors before he located the locker and opened it. Inside, he found a little bag like a shaving kit. He unzipped it and examined the contents item by item. After taking out a plastic access card and stuffing it in his pocket, he zipped up the kit and put it in his overnight bag.
He walked out the front door of the terminal and stood on the sidewalk taking deep breaths. The air was welcome after all that exhaust. There were a fair number of people going about. The traffic was thick and there was the general din of honking horns, conversations and other assorted noises of the big city. The city always had a certain energy to it. Unfortunately, he was only staying overnight for a business trip, so he wouldn't be able to take advantage of his visit to see much. Maybe next time. He headed off down the sidewalk toward his hotel.
At a small grocery store in the middle of the block, he stopped in front of several tables displaying a variety of fruits and vegetables. Under a small hand-written sign showing the word Macintosh, he turned over several apples before selecting one and stepping into the store. He held onto his bag and the apple with one hand while he dug around his pocket and pulled out a bill. The older woman behind the counter took it and made change. He put the coins in his pocket, unzipped the bag and put the apple in it. He walked out and blended into the stream of people on the sidewalk.
When Charles walked into the hotel, he scanned the lobby before spotting the elevators off to one side. He walked to them and punched a wall button. He rode up to the fourth floor and used his plastic pass card to gain entrance to room number 434. It was clean and fresh. Nothing fancy, but it had a sense of cleanliness. He took off his shoes and left them at the door. He put his bag on a luggage stand beside the television and went into the bathroom to wash his hands. After taking a hand towel from a stack of clean linen, he dried his hands and hooked it over the linen bar.
He went back into the room and he looked at the clock. It showed ten forty-five. He opened his overnight bag and hung up a clean shirt and pants, then stripped off his clothes and hung them up.
He looked around the room at the bed, the dresser, and the heating unit by the window. Taking a pillow from the bed, he arranged it by the window on the floor, then sat down on it and hooked his feet under the edge of the heating unit. After thirty sit-ups, he paused looking up at the ceiling. He rolled over and did twenty-five push-ups then stood up and did some stretching exercises. He touched his toes and bent left and right at the waist, alternating between these two movements several times. Next he got back down on the pillow and did another set of thirty sit-ups, rolled over and did another twenty-five push-ups. He stood up and touched his toes again then bent backward at the waist and moved left and right. Straightening up, he rubbed his lower back before putting the pillow back on the bed.
Charles went to the bathroom and showered. After slipping on a hotel bathrobe and slippers, he went back to the main room and turned on the television set. He dug his apple out of his bag and washed it in the bathroom. He moved a pillow to the headboard, and he propped himself up in bed using the channel changer to hunt for the eleven o'clock news. As he bit into his apple with one hand, he clicked the remote with the other.
After ten minutes of headlines and international news, the show turned to local news. He turned off the television set and got up. Throwing the apple core into the wastebasket, he picked up the menu card and read over the breakfast selection for room service. He filled out the card for coffee, cereal plus milk and toast with a delivery time of 6:30am. After hanging it on the outside door handle of his room, he sat on the edge of the bed and set the alarm on the clock radio to 6:25am. He phoned the front desk and asked for a wake-up call for the same time.
He pulled the small bag out of his luggage and set it on the writing desk. Turning on the lamp, he moved the bag into the light and unzipped it. He used his hand to shift the contents around and inspected each item. He leaned back in the chair and stared at a framed print of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. The heating unit clicked on and the fan made a whirring noise. Closing the bag, he put it back in his luggage.
He brushed his teeth and urinated. He checked the thermostat, turned out the lights and climbed into bed. Staring at the ceiling in the semi-darkness, he listened to the muted din of the city. It was late but there was the occasional car horn. Voices passed by in the hall.
The phone rang. Charles picked up the receiver and put it back in its cradle. He pulled back the covers and rolled over to sit on the side of the bed. He paused looking into the semi-darkness. The time read 6:24am. He punched the off button for the radio clock.
Putting on his robe and slippers, he got out a two one-dollar bills and put them on the corner of the writing desk. He picked up his overnight bag and took it into the bathroom. Coming back out, he glanced at the clock. It said 6:29am. He pulled the door handle to release the lock and left the door propped open. He went back to the bathroom leaving the door open a crack and turned on the shower. With the water running, he stood at the sink so he could better hear somebody knock. He brushed his teeth.
The knock was audible even over the sound of the running water. Going to the crack in the door, he barked, “Come on in.” He heard a muffled response. “Leave the tray on the desk, please. There's a tip for you.”
A voice said, “Thank you, sir.” He kept his ear to the crack listening as the waiter walked to the writing desk then came back, went out the door and shut it. Once he heard the click of the lock, he shut off the water and came out. He put his overnight bag back on the luggage stand and walked over to the breakfast tray. He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down. Holding the cup to his lips, he sipped occasionally shutting his eyes. For the moment, all was quiet.
He poured a second cup, stood up and walked to the window. Pulling back the edge of the drapes, he looked out onto the street below. He followed various people while he finished his coffee.
He returned to the desk and unfolded the complimentary newspaper. After pouring milk over his cereal, he placed the bowl on the paper itself and hunched over eating and scanning the headlines. He had a third cup of coffee while looking at the editorial page of the newspaper. Buttered toast with jam left a trail of crumbs over the newsprint.
Charles finished his coffee and had to take care of his daily business. He shaved and got dressed. Taking out a fresh change of underwear and socks, he put on the extra shirt and pants he had brought. He folded the previous day’s clothing and put it in the overnight bag. The time was seven thirty.
He lifted the lid on the pot and looked inside. Pouring out the rest of the coffee, he went to the window. He sipped and stared at the urban landscape.
He snapped out of his reverie. The clock now showed seven forty. He brushed his teeth then picked up a towel and went around the room and the bathroom wiping anything he may have touched: the TV remote, the breakfast menu card, the clock radio, the sink and taps, the furniture, plus the room service tray and its items. He walked around making sure he hadn’t left anything. Satisfied that everything was in order, he picked up his bag and left.
Taking the stairs down to the main floor, he avoided the lobby and exited through a side door. He turned right and walked a block to the subway. Using a token from the zipped bag, he took the eastbound train and rode three stops. He walked out of the station and went to the corner. Setting his bag down, he removed a blue windbreaker and a baseball cap without an insignia. He went down four doors and arrived at a condo-apartment building, number 2843. He pulled open the door and entered the foyer. At that moment, a woman was coming out pulling a little shopping cart. He turned away as if he was studying the list of names but before the door shut, he grabbed it and walked into the building keeping his head down.
The elevator was straight ahead, but he went to the left to take the stairs. He walked up to the third floor and pulled open the door. He looked to the right and the left. The hallway was deserted. He let the door close and put down his bag. Reaching into it, he took out a pair of latex gloves. He pulled them over each hand and stretched the ends over the cuffs of his jacket. He unzipped the kit bag and retrieved a gun and suppressor then fixed the silencer into place. Glancing one last time at the gun, he opened the door and strode down the hall to apartment 32. He knocked on the door while holding the gun out of sight. On the other side of the door, a voice said, “Yes?”
He knocked again. There was the distinct sound of the chain being removed. He brought the gun up and held it out with both hands. The door opened to reveal a woman in a bathrobe. He squeezed the trigger and there was a quiet pop. A dark red circle appeared in the middle of the woman's forehead and she collapsed on the floor. He pushed the door open and stepped into the apartment. Somewhere there was a radio playing soft music. He shut the door.
“Honey? Who's at the door?” A man's voice came from down the hall. Charles tiptoed toward the voice holding the gun out with both hands. As he arrived at a bedroom, a man came through the door. “Who could be coming around at this hour?”
The man stopped and looked at Charles. He glanced down at the gun and sighed, his shoulders slumped. Charles squeezed the trigger and once again, there was a quiet pop. A dark red circle formed in the middle of the forehead and the man folded up in a heap on the floor. Charles put the gun in a pocket then half hoisted the man and dragged him into the bedroom. He returned to the hall and carried the woman back. He opened the closet and removed a shoe stand and several boxes. Getting down on his knees, he seized both sides of a wooden cover and lifted it to one side. He leaned in the closet and studied the mini-vault.
He pulled both bodies to the closet and arranged them side by side. Extending the right arm of each of them, he brought the hands to the front of the vault. Grasping the thumb of each hand, he placed first the man’s then the woman’s on the fingerprint reader. There was an audible click. He moved the arms out of the way and opened the door. He reached in and removed three trays then took them to the dresser. Spacing them out one after one, he tugged at a leather handle to lift the cover of each drawer. Laid out on black velvet were dozens of diamonds.
He pulled a small cloth bag out of a pocket and emptied the contents of each drawer into it. He pulled a draw string and put the bag back in one pocket. Glancing around one last time, he went back to the door of the apartment and opened the door. He stepped into the hall and shut the door listening for the telltale click of the lock. Striding back down the hall, he returned to the stairwell. He took the suppressor off the gun and put the pieces back in the kit bag. Pulling the cloth bag out of his pocket, he stuffed it into the kit and zipped it up. He stripped off the gloves and put everything in his overnight bag.
Once outside the building, he walked to the corner and put his windbreaker and baseball cap back in his luggage. He threw away the latex gloves and took the subway downtown. At the bus depot, he used his key to open the same locker. He used a tissue to wipe the kit bag including the zipper handle and stored everything away. A wall clock showed nine thirty. At the restaurant counter, he ordered a coffee and a toasted bagel then found a vacant seat where somebody had left a copy of the morning newspaper. He crossed his legs and laid the paper out in his lap as he ate his bagel and sipped his coffee.
The P.A. system announced his departure. He folded the paper and left it on the chair, stood up and tossed his coffee cup in a garbage container. He pulled out his return ticket and walked out to the bus. The driver stood by the front door looking at passenger tickets.
The bus was half empty. He walked all the way to the back, put his bag on the aisle seat, and slid over to the window. After looking up to the front of the bus, he unzipped his bag and took out a pocket book. He thumbed the pages to a bookmark then stopped, squeezed his eyes shut and yawned. He set the book down and settled back in his seat. Turning his head, he looked out the window as the bus moved. It was a four-hour ride home and there was plenty of time to kill.