This is chapter three in the continuing story "Dumb Luck". If you haven't already done so, I would encourage you to go back a couple of posts and start at the beginning. Enjoy.
There he sat, just a couple of blocks away from where he'd found his 'ticket to freedom'. That bag full of cash was supposed to have given him freedom...right? So why did it feel like he was in prison? "Ironic" he thought, Prison, that may be my best option now."
As if he didn't have enough problems swimming through his mind, the realization that his only way home meant getting into the most recognized vehicle in the city, certainly added to them. There it sat, right there across the street. He didn't want to get in it and go anywhere for fear it'd be recognized, but he couldn't risk leaving it there for long either. With a one hour parking meter about to expire and the ever present meter maids around every corner, letting it stay there would mean getting a ticket. By itself that wouldn't be the end of the planet, but having the licence plate number entered into the database might be . . . for him anyway.
After a few more moments of contemplating what he was going to do next, he got up, walked across the street and put a couple of coins in the meter. That would give him enough time to walk two blocks over to Ellsbury and check out where he'd found the bag. He wanted to look around to see if there were any other cameras that might have caught his image on tape that day.
As he approached the corner, he started seeing news vans parked along the street. He could also see yellow crime scene tape cordoning off the area ahead. "Maybe I should turn around and go back." he thought, "But there's no way just my face would be recognized from the photo in the paper. Without the Jeep I'll be just another face in the crowd." It was amazing how cavalier he was acting. Perhaps it was all the adrenaline or perhaps he figured he had nothing else to lose. Either way he was determined to get a closer look. What he didn't realize is he was more likely to be caught on tape now with all the cameras buzzing around, than he ever would have been by an ATM photo or any other type of surveillance video.
There were easily a couple hundred spectators gathered around as the crews set-up their shots for the five o'clock newscast. He was actually feeling more at ease with this many others milling about. "I'm a lot less likely to stand out with this many people around." he thought. Suddenly that feeling was gone. Walking down the sidewalk towards him was a K-9 unit. "What if he recognizes my scent?" It had been almost a week ago but, "Dogs have some kind of extra sensory smell, maybe he'd still be able to pick me out." Every episode of COPS where the 130-pound German shepherd pins the bad guy to the ground in a death grip with his teeth around his neck raced through his mind. He could feel his eyes squint in anticipation as the dog and his handler approached. Running was completely out of the question and even avoiding them was impossible now. As they walked past each other he could feel the shepherd's black and tan coat brush against his pants leg. If the dog didn't recognize his scent he was sure to smell his fear, but to his amazement, both man, and more importantly beast, continued down the sidewalk without so much as a sniff in his direction.
Once around the corner, what he saw displayed before him seemed to be a combination of a three-ring circus and one of those crime scene shows. There were journalists from every newspaper and TV network and all of them were conducting interviews with various officers, shopkeepers and on-lookers. He was totally overwhelmed by what he was witnessing, and looking for any sort of surveillance cameras was out of the question. He couldn't recognize any of them, but he was sure some of the Bennetelli's were there too, gathering their own evidence.
Amidst all of the confusion he overheard one news team report the following: "In an exclusive interview with WLTV an eye witness has just confirmed to us, seeing a white male in his early thirties, approximately 5'11" tall leaving the scene the day the money disappeared. She also confirmed that she was able to provide the police and FBI with at least a partial ID of the licence plate from the red Jeep seen in an earlier photo. The officers we talked to would not confirm or deny whether they had been able to make a positive identification from the information provided. They did however, say they would be checking with local DMV officials to assist them in their investigation." Holding up a black and white drawing, the reporter continued, "The eye witness, Miss Sarah Watkins, along with a police artist were able to provide this sketch to us of the man, believed to have found the missing money. For more of this developing story and further details we go back to you at the studio."
If he'd have just listened to his instincts and turned in the money that day he'd probably be a hero now instead of being a wanted man. Shoot, he might even have been given a reward for his effort. Now he had a small fortune at his home that he'd probably never see again.
'Oh, damn! What time is it? The Jeep!" He just realized with all the activity going on around him he had forgotten about the parking meter that, by his calculations had expired ten minutes earlier. As quickly as he could walk without bringing any more suspicion to himself, he began heading back towards where he was parked. About another ten minutes later he turned the corner where his Jeep sat only to find a meter maid and a police cruiser with its lights flashing sitting next to it. "Now what?" he thought, "I've got to get the hell out of here fast. Cab!" he yelled out.
As he climbed in the driver said, "Where to buddy?" "Anywhere but here." he replied. "Say again?" "Oh, eighteen-four-fifty-three Hamilton Drive will be just fine." He was happy to have this yellow and black taxi whisking him away from this segment of his nightmare. When they passed by the corner Miles had been at moments before the cabby said, "Can you believe all this?" Pretending not to hear him, he just starred out the window. "Think they'll find the guy?" he heard. With a noticeable irritation in his voice he replied, "What?" "The guy who found all that money. Where do you think he is by now?" You're talking to him you moron, is what he wanted to say, instead he said, "He's probably a million miles away if he's smart." "I sure wish I'd have found it. I could retire with all that cash. I'd pay off my house and quit this damn job for sure. What would you do if you found it?" As he looked at the driver's eyes in the rear view mirror he said with a solemn voice, "I'd leave it right where it was and run the other direction." "you're nuts buddy!" "I couldn't agree more."
The rest of the drive was silent until he heard the cabby say, "Hamilton's just up ahead, right or left?" The second he heard that he thought, I can't go directly to my house. Any number of people could be waiting there for me. "Uh . . . just drop me off here. It's only a couple of houses away, I'll walk the rest." "Suit yourself, that'll be eighteen bucks." Without thinking he handed the driver a fifty that he'd taken from the bag and told him to keep the change. "For this I'll be happy to take you the rest of the way there." "I'm good." He shut the door and began the rest of his journey on foot.
Everything seemed quiet on his street so far. As he got closer to his house he didn't notice any unusual cars parked along the street or any visual police activity anywhere. He figured with all that had happened earlier he couldn't be very far ahead of those that were looking for him, when he remembered something.
To be continued.