“I don’t think I’m in any danger,” Walter said placidly. Walter’s apparent saviour had an urgent aura to him though he remained calm in his stance and communication. Walter usually sought to placate stressed out folk with a calm ambience long enough until he could get away from them, “if you’re talking about the addicts, they are harmless, Mister…uh Whisker.”
“Just call me Whisker,” he replied with a hint of annoyance. There was an awkward silence. Walter felt it was up to Whisker to explain his presence or move on (hopefully the latter), but he simply stood and watched Walter without humour or malice in his face.
“Well it was nice to meet you, Whisker,” Walter said without certainty and despite not really wanting to he added, “I think I might head off home now.”
“You don’t want to do that, I can assure you,” Whisker replied. His demeanour still lacked any hint of motivation, despite Walter’s offering of ample silence to further digress. Walter, feeling uncomfortable and puzzled, started to walk away giving Whisker a sidelong glance as a last dash of politeness. He had fully turned his back and taken a few paces before Whisky spoke again, “Did you manage to finish the crossword?”
Walter stopped and turned with his brow furrowed, “How did y-”
“I brought a spare pen,” he interjected, “perhaps by now you have forgotten the answers and can have one last crack at it and make it official,” he smiled what would be a warm smile at a glance but as Walter looked, the bizarre comment still troubling his brow, he found it to be empty and almost robotic. “But before this, let’s walk.” It sounded like a bad idea to Walter but he always enjoyed an adventure among other things (new pens included) decided there was no harm to be done – he was, of course, still bereft of material value and Whisker obviously knew this.
They walked through the park towards the spot where Whisker was originally seated. Walter was never accustomed to social standards and felt uncomfortable walking side by side with someone. He usually walked with superiors who would condescend him both through speech and body language, always striding a few steps ahead of him and never looking at him when they spoke. Whisker however slowed to stay in stride and slowed further when Walter instinctually made to fall behind. He also turned amiably (but somehow still falsely) when he spoke with Walter. They spoke of the weather and the buildings and Walter had soon made his mind to forgive Whisker for his apparent lack of emotion.
They eventually made it to the other end of the park - at one point they had reached crawling pace before Walter realised he was setting the standards but by the time they made it to the opposing entrance Walter had sped up to a normal speed. Whisker continued talking about the intricate colour schemes of the apartment complexes as they approached a van with its side door opened. Whisker gently put his hand on Walter’s back, around the shoulder blade, and said, “Would you mind hopping into the van, Walter?”
“Uh…maybe I shouldn’t,” Walter replied, taking a step backwards.
“I insist,” Whisker said more forcefully and applying pressure with his hand to keep Walter from backing further away.
Walter was bewildered at the sudden turn of events and started shaking his head, “Yeah I think I’m just gonna go home,” he said. Whisker moved to grab him and placed his hand around Walter’s upper arms. He had an unnatural strength and had managed to lift Walter off his feet like he was a helpless toddler. He was about to throw him into the open van door when a shady voice came from out of nowhere.
“Hey, you guys looking to score?” the voice said, shaking mildly. Whisker had placed Walter back on his feet and adjusted his suit a little before turning on his heel. Walter also turned and saw a skinny, hunched man with his hands stuffed into his dirty jeans. “I got some shit for you that will make your mind blow – I mean blow your mines. It’s the shit what makes everything amazing. Even sex!” The addict looked finished with his big sell but thought of one last clincher, “I dunno from, like experience, but ‘parently it makes good on the gay sex too!” he put up his index and middle finger in a peace sign to emphasise the last word.
“Thank you, but-”
“Yes! Thank you! But…How much?!” Walter interrupted, surprising even himself with his quick actions. His momentary wit had a momentary lapse as he stuffed his hand into his own pocket but he recovered nicely, stuffing it into Whisker’s back pocket and pulling out a thin money clip. “We will take everything you got, but you have to teach us how to use it,” he handed over the money and returned his hand to Whisker’s back pocket, hoping to buy more time. Whisky stood rigid and unresponsive, seemingly too slow to keep up with the events.
“Oh I’ll teach you how to use it,” the stray dealer said sternly, his voice suddenly dropping an octave and full of gravel. He reached into his own back pocket and pulled out a shiny badge. “You’re both under arrest for the purchase of illegal substances.”
“Really? Yes!” said Walter, beaming. Whisker had finally caught up and made to speak, lifting his hand in protest. Before a word came out he was slammed into the car, his hand lifted painfully high between his shoulder blades.
“You have the right to remain silent, you fucking faggot!” The apparently homophobic police officer was venting some frustration, visibly straining as he lifted Whisker’s hand higher. Surprisingly Whisker’s face only displayed a pensive disappointment at the situation. “Yeah you fucking like my all up behind you like this, don’t you cocksucker?”
Walter felt his luck was coming to an end. The cop who interrupted his kidnapping turned out to be a gay basher who thought Walter was gay. But luck comes in waves and this time it was waving at him as it ran over on the tips of its toes. The junkie/cop’s bigotry began to make more sense. His tall, muscly, blonde haired partner stopped next to Walter. “Are we arresting them, Stevie?”
“Cuff that poofta, Taylor.”
Taylor smiled with a sigh like a wife of 20 years who has become accustomed to her husband’s bad habits. He took the cuffs off his belt clip. Walter obediently put his hands out, trying to get cuffed before ‘Stevie’ finished off Whisker. “Well aren’t you an eager beaver! Let me put these on. Not too tight is it?”
“Jesus Christ, Taylor, you gotta…” Stevie had lost his ferocity. “Just throw them in the cruiser.” As Taylor pranced off to get the car the driver door of the van opened. A man who looked identical to Whisker, almost to the point of twindom, approached the group. “Sir are you with these men?” Stevie asked aggressively. The man stopped and stared for a moment. Whisker gave the tiniest of shake of his head, barely two degrees of negation, and the man looked at Stevie and shook his head in a similar fashion. “Then get the fuck out of here!” Stevie shouted, regaining his vigour.
The Whisker wannabe returned to the van and drove off just as Taylor pulled up in the cruiser, “Stick em in the back, Stevie, but be gentle please,” he said winking at Walter as he did so. Stevie did so but not without a clenched grip on Walter’s arm that made him wince in pain. Whisky was unperturbed by the grip.
As they headed off to the station Whisker turned to Walter, “Clever move, Walter. I underestimated you.” Walter though it polite to respond but was simply too puzzled by what had happened. Instead he looked out the window, enjoying the rare thrill of riding in a vehicle and admiring the grey buildings as they blurred by.