“The flu thing my ass,” I grumbled.
Surprised, Steve silently stared at me, his face similar to that of a child with his hand in a cookie jar. It took a few seconds for the situation to sink in, and when it finally did, he began talking rapidly, as he always did when he was lying. He rambled on about feeling better shortly after calling me and deciding to go out, and then became very quiet as he noticed the dried up blood on my nose and chin.
“What the hell happened to you?” he asked.
“The cuffs?” I said, ignoring his question and motioning towards my back.
Steve let out a quick “Oh yea”, then turned and pulled a pair of pliers from his backpack. He walked around me and began fiddling with the handcuffs, and after a few tries was able to break open the locks.
Grateful, I quickly explained my evening so far, all the while rubbing my wrists and wiping the crusty blood from my face. I talked about Dracula and the Alien, the Crazy Lady, Officer Murray, getting sick in the car, and the roberry at the National Bank. Steve seemed very interested in the roberry, and began asking me questions about what had happened: How much had been stolen? Who had stolen it? What were the cops going to do about it? I tried to answer his questions as best I could, but admitted that I didn’t know much more than what I’d heard on the police radio.
An uneasy silence came over both of us: a silence mostly caused by contempt for one another. As I stood there, I realized that Steve was indirectly responsible for what had happened to me: had he not called me to cancel our plans, I’d probably be bouncing around a handful of scantily clad girls disguised in sexy costumes right now. Instead, I was standing in a grey metro station with dry blood on my face.
I didn’t say anything, however, because I knew very well how the conversation would end. Steve would start by convincing me that I was to blame, then lecture me on how I could have gone by myself to the house party and bounced around scantily clad girls on my own. He would say that no one was trying to stop me from having fun, and I would end up apologizing to him.
I sighed. Steve was very good at winning arguments without ever knowing there’d been an argument. I looked down at my bruised wrists, and though about the scantily clad girls. I then began thinking about the odds that both of us would end up in the same metro station at the same time, and figured they must’ve been mind-bogglingly astronomical. I focused on the word: astronomical. Other words came to mind: astronomical, universe, vast, space, time.
I looked up at the other commuters. Some of them had left, others were looking at their watches and cell phones. I then turned to Steve, and he confirmed that we were both thinking of the same thing.
“Dude, its been a while. Were’s the train?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but was drowned out by the crackling of the metro station intercom.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a dry, muffled voice started, “we’ve run into some technical difficulties. Please evacuate the station in a calm and orderly fashion. Again, I repeat, please evacuate the station in a calm and orderly fashion. We apologize for any inconvenience. All personel, code 54-A”
“Uh oh,” Steve said.
Surprised by Steve’s reaction, I asked him what was wrong, to which he tried to ignore me. It was pretty obvious, however, that Steve knew something was up, and when I asked again, I got an answer, though not the answer I wanted to hear.
“Code 54-A,” he finally said. ”My cousin used to work for the Metro, he taught me all the codes. Code 54 means there’s a problem and police are coming to help.”
“Ok,” I replied.
“The thing is,” Steve continued, “if there’s a situation where cops aren’t enough, then they call in a Code 54-A.”
“Which means,” Steve paused, swallowing what little saliva he had left in his mouth. ”Which means they’re calling in the SWAT team…”
“They’re calling in the what?!” I shouted. ”That crazy bitch… That crazy, fucked-up, bitch! What the hell did she tell the cops for them to call the swat team on me?!”
Some of the commuters who had started walking back to the entrance turned to see what I was shouting about. Noticing this, Steve turned me around and tried to calm me down. He told me to relax and breathe, and walked me to the back of the station, where no one could see us. He then removed his backpack and opened it, showing me its contents.
I remained motionless as I stared down at hundreds of twenty dollar bills stashed every which way, bills that had most definitely had been taken from the National Bank. I now knew why Steve was so freaked out.
“They’re not coming for you,” he said, a cold sweat shimmering on his forehead. ”They’re coming for me…”