Mystery novelist and fellow blogger D.S. Nelson offered this ‘photo as a prompt for stories. It was a terrific inspiration, and here’s the story that came from it. Thanks, D.S.! Folks, do visit her great blog, and try her Blake Heatherington mysteries while you’re at it.
‘Hey, look, Noodle Camp,’ Shane said. ‘I’m starving. Let’s get something to eat.’
‘OK,’ Brent answered. ‘Might as well.’
The two young men crossed the road and went inside the restaurant.
Noodle Camp wasn’t crowded at two in the afternoon, so it didn’t take long for the food to arrive. Within moments Shane and Brent were getting ready to dig into their full plates. As he lifted his chopsticks, Brent noticed that his cousin wasn’t following suit.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ he asked.
‘What’s it look like? I want to post this later on Instagram.’ Shane answered.
‘You’re an idiot! Your friends back home have all seen Chinese food before. Besides, you know you’re not supposed to be posting stuff on social media.’
‘It’s not like I’m posting a selfie. It’s just the food. And I use a fake name on my Instagram account. And anyway, when are we going to ever be in England again? This is supposed to be our graduation trip. We might as well have some fun.’
Brent shrugged. Shane could be really stupid sometimes. Who cared about a plate of Chinese food unless you were eating it? ‘Whatever,’ he said as he started to eat.
When they were finished, Brent and Shane left Noodle Camp. As soon as they got outside, Shane said, ‘I just want to get a few more pictures.’
‘You’re so stupid,’ Brent said. He stepped aside, shaking his head, as Shane started to take shots of the outside of the restaurant. Then Brent noticed something.
‘Stop taking selfies!’ he warned. It was too late. Shane was slowly stepping into the street, taking pictures of himself with the restaurant in the background. Brent yelled at him again to get out of the street, but Shane just waved him off. ‘Just one more sec,’ he called back.
Tamsin looked out the window at the street below. Living right above Noodle Camp certainly made it convenient to get some food when you wanted it. And she did sometimes enjoy the human drama in the street. She’d seen arguments, a car fire, and even a marriage proposal (the girl had said ‘yes’). It was all fodder for the novel she was planning to write as part of her creative writing Ph.D.
Everything seemed peaceful today. Just some moronic tourist taking selfies. Why did people have to do that? Still, he might make for an interesting character in her story. So she pulled out her telephone and took a few pictures, choosing not to think of how ironic that was.
Wait, why was that car down the block idling its engine? Probably just waiting for someone to come out of that building and get in. Stop the drama, Tamsin, she told herself. Then she saw it start and then speed up. Forgetting that she was still recording, Tamsin tried to scream at the kid below to get out of the way, but by the time she opened her mouth, the damage was already done. She rushed out of the room and frantically called 999 as she ran downstairs to the street.
This was too easy, Paulie thought as he watched the two young men from down the street. That kid was right where Paulie wanted him. He hadn’t seen Sal’s kid in a few years, but there was no mistaking him; it was the same person. Leo had been right. It was a good idea to get the kid here instead of in the US. He started the engine and got ready, smiling to himself a little as he did so. ‘Witness protection, my ass,’ he murmured.
It went even more smoothly than Paulie could have hoped. The car had a good motor and hit exactly the speed he wanted within a couple of seconds. He struck the boy directly and was gone before anyone started yelling for help. Leo was going to be pleased. In a way he felt bad for Kenny, or Shane, or whatever the boy was calling himself. But that’s what you risk when your old man starts talking to the police. And besides, it was pretty stupid to take selfies in the street like that. In a couple of hours, he’d be on a plane back to the States. Another successful job.
Brent was slumped in a chair in the police station’s reception area. He was still too dazed even to call his parents. Or Shane’s parents, which would be even worse. He hoped they wouldn’t blame him. Then, a slow-burning anger started to form in his gut. Whatever else happened, he’d get the guy who did this.
The police interviewed Brent a few minutes later. They were surprisingly easy with him, and didn’t seem to blame him. That, at least, was a good thing. As he left the interview room area to leave the station, he noticed a young woman standing at the reception desk.
‘…just want my mobile ‘phone back,’ she was saying. ‘It was expensive.’
‘I’m sorry, Miss, but we need it for evidence. We’ll get it back to you as soon as possible. If I could just have your details….’
She gave the information and turned to leave, passing Brent as she did so. There was a flicker of recognition in her eyes.
She spoke first. ‘I hope you don’t mind. But weren’t you outside Noodle Camp today?’
‘I – I saw the whole thing. I’m sorry.’
Brent nodded. What else was there to say? Then a thought occurred to him. ‘I heard you say something about your ‘phone. Did you get pictures?’
‘Pictures and videos, actually.’
‘So you saw what happened?’
‘Yes. That’s why I’m here. The police need my evidence.’
Brent nodded again, this time more to himself than to her. ‘What’s your name?’
‘Tamsin. What’s yours?’
‘I’m Brent. Look, I swear I’m not trying to pick you up. But maybe I could get you a coffee or something? I could use that evidence too, when the cops are done with it.’