Magnanimous Monday Excerpt

03

WHAT’S THE POINT

Chicago Illinois

Malcolm entered his one bedroom apartment, stowing what remained of his lost groceries on the kitchen table. He was about to empty the lone bag when he muttered, “What’s the point? I’m done here.”

He sat down on one of the kitchen table chairs, surveying the small apartment, taking a mental inventory of what was stored where.

He was considering leaving the hideaway stocked, “It would make a good safe house,” he mumbled to himself, “But I really should give the food away or it will spoil.”

“I could leave it for the girl,” he then nodded to himself, shaking his head when he realized he’d have to find her and explain things.

Split the difference between his two best options, deciding he would leave the staples in the cabinets, and give the perishables in the refrigerator to the building supervisor and his family.

Malcolm made his way down the stairs to pass on the food when he spotted the girl at the bottom of the stairs leaning her head against the wall.

“She looks like she’s sleeping,” Malcom told himself watched her for a moment before he decided to give her one more chance; one more secret favor.

He turned around, quietly returning to his second floor apartment; returning the perishables to the cool interior of the refrigerator.

He looked around one more time and reaffirmed that it was time to vacate this place and start a new life somewhere else.

Being a furnished apartment none of the ‘things’ there belonged to him. Beyond a few personal items, the only possessions he purchased was the food in the refrigerator and the few clothes he had in the closet, most of which had come from the homeless shelter or a thrift store to help him blend into the area.

Malcolm removed the dark Chicago Cub’s cap resting on his head; tossing to the top shelf of the mostly empty hall closet. He then removed a grey holey hoodie from one of the few occupied hangers.

He moved into the bedroom and opened the top drawer of the nightstand. He left the cheap watch he was wearing on his wrist, but transferred an antique silver pocket watch, an ornate long silver cross, and a modern stainless steel lighter from the drawer, adding them to the growing collection of items in his pants pocket.

The last two non-clothing items, a silver pen, and a safety deposit key he slipped into his shirt pocket under the hoodie.

He returned to the kitchen and wrote a note for the manager, “Jose, I’m going out of town for a while.”

He paused and thought for a moment then continued his note, “If a girl with a flowered shirt and a green knapsack shows up looking for me, please let her use the apartment until I return. If you don’t hear back from me in three months, consider my non-return my thirty day notice. Enclosed is this month, and next month’s rent as well as enough for the next three months after that. Thanks.”

Malcolm opened the freezer and pulled out three sealed boxes of frozen spinach. He opened them, then extracted several stacks of cash. Counting out enough money to cover the apartment before folding the letter around the bills, then inserting both into a envelop he found in one of the kitchen drawers.

Malcom stared at the cash bundles for a few moments before withdrawing more funds from his frozen assets account; placing them in the refrigerator under the half-full gallon of non-fat chocolate milk. The remainder of the cash went into his pocket.

Malcolm made his way back down the stairs and quietly past the sleeping girl. He shoved the letter under the door sill of apartment number one; then made his way to the laundry room and quietly exited out the back door, into the courtyard shared with the building behind the one he had just vacated.

“It’s not easy to find apartments with multiple exits,” he thought as he casually and inconspicuously made his way through the lobby of the adjoining building to the other side, and a different street.

He took a passing glance at the police as they focused on a tow truck backing into place, directing traffic around an accident. Malcom turned to the opposite direction of the incident and did not look back as he walked away from his previous life.

It was time for Malcolm to transform his appearance again. With a practiced plan in mind he stopped at the first barber he found. He treated himself to straight razor shave to remove the week long stubble, and a give himself a long overdue bald cut.

His next stop was at a men’s suit store just a few doors away. When he emerged his tattered hoodie was gone replaced by someone new wearing a pinstriped suit and a grey fedora.

After his personal renovation he made his way to a local bank, where, with the manager’s assistance, he gained access to his safety deposit box, his next identity, and a few other items.

When Malcolm returned to the bank’s lobby he asked to use one of their empty offices to make some private phone calls. Either because he was a valued customer, or the white manager feared a well-dressed, good looking, strong black man in this part of Chicago, the bank manager granted him access to one of the empty conference rooms and went so far as to offer the assistance of one of the tellers if he needed them.

Malcolm respectfully declined and closed the conference room door. He sat down at the table and pulled the phone closer to him before he danced his fingers across the touch pad.

When he completed his calls he thanked the manager for the use of the conference room and waited in the lobby facing toward the entrance until a tall, thin, white, uniformed, and capped driver entered the building.

As Malcolm stood up and approached him before the driver asked, “Mr. Jones?”

Malcolm nodded, motioning for the driver to lead the way.

The driver held the rear passenger door open to a black hybrid Chrysler 400 asking, “Where too sir?”

Passing the driver a note, and a tip, he asked, “Would you take me to this address please.”

The driver nodded and he held the door open as Malcolm got in the back. When the car pulled into traffic Malcolm stated, “I’m going to take a nap. Please wake me before we arrive.”

The driver replied, “Yes sir,” before raising the privacy screen.