A car honked at me as its tires screeched on the asphalt, but I simply waved and kept walking at a casual pace. A hot dog vendor on the corner started yelling at me in Hungarian. Yanni didn’t care much for me, but he did know me. I waved at him. My course wouldn’t take me close enough to him, but I got an itch.
“Two, please,” I said, “with mustard and onions. And two Cokes.”
I didn’t know why I asked for two Cokes, but it seemed right. Yanni looked at me like I was crazy, probably because I kept walking away from him, but he went ahead and reached into his cart.
As I reached the other side, a teenager on a skateboard careened into my shoulder, spinning me towards the hot dog cart. In three more steps, without breaking stride, I paid for the hot dogs and Cokes, and continued towards the intersection.
“Have a good day, Mr. Iverson.”
“You, too, Yanni.”
The light changed just as my foot hit the street, neatly stopping the cars from running me over. I crossed, finding myself walking next to a metal fence that overlooked a downslope leading to Swift Creek.
After another thirty feet I ran into a small knot of factory workers. I hugged the fence to let them pass, but a large man was looking at one of his fellows instead of me. His considerable bulk pushed me into the fence, which gave way.
I tumbled over, then started rolling down the hill. I felt the impacts, but they didn’t hurt much. Soft ferns and other greenery cushioned the blows. Everything flew by in a blur. I didn’t have time to do more than cradle my hot dogs and Cokes protectively. Hope I don’t roll into the Swift. It’s cold this time of year.
I rolled to a stop completely disoriented. The world spun, but eventually resolved on a woman leaning over me.
“Hi. Don Iverson. By chance would you need the services of a detective?”
“I—yes. How did you know?”
“Just lucky. Want a hot dog and a Coke? I recommend not opening the Coke for a few minutes.”