“Just fishing,” the boy said, he never looked away from the string running into the water in front of him.
“Catch anything?” I asked, I knew he had not, as far as I knew there wasn’t a living fish within a hundred miles – in fact even a real dead fish was, most likely, at least a hundred miles away, most of the “fish” in these parts would be cells grown in a vat in Vacaville.
“Got a few nibbles,” he lied, but still never looked away from his line. He was thin, maybe ten years old, his denim overalls and the bare skin underneath looked like he hadn’t washed ever. My prefect, slightly shinny, dark blue suit, carefully knotted tie, highly shined brown real leather shoes and my having washed from head to toe every day of my life made it appear we were different species.
“Take care,” I said as casually as I could and continued up the stream. I looked back once; he still watched the water directly in front of him, hoping for lunch.
As the man in the blue suit disappeared around a bend on the waters edge path the boy reached inside the bib of his overalls and pulled out the paper thin, newest model, communication pad and touched the screen, “he just passed” he stated quickly in a clear, distinct, speech and slid the device back into the pocket inside his bib overalls. His eyes went back to the task in front of him as though nothing had happened.
I stopped for a breath, near a tall evergreen, moisture was forming on my upper lip and I could feel an uncomfortable slipperiness under both arms. I looked down at my shoes and noticed a film of dust. Impulsively I wiped the tops of both shoes on my calves leaving two brown patches on my no longer perfect suit. I bent down and without success tried to brush away the dust from my slacks. Accepting this decay I leaned against the tree watching the path behind me until I was sure I had not been followed. I pushed away from the tree. The sleeve of my coat stuck to pitch seeping out of the bark. I wiped at the sticky mess spreading the amber gum to my fingers. I wiped my hand on the trunk of the tree, another mistake, the amber turned to black. Five steps up the path I felt the cold steel barrel of a gun in my back. I stood still and moved both hands into position behind my waist, wrists crossed, waiting for the cuffs. I was thankful for my capture. Life on the run is a dirty thing.