Crossing the street at Tenth Avenue Ray gritted his teeth and cursed under his breath as he saw Alvin coming toward him. Damn. Of all the bad luck. Why now? Ray owed Alvin a hundred bucks and Alvin had been hounding him for it ever since. Trouble was, Ray had lost the money on a “sure thing” at the track. Alvin, of course, didn’t know that. Nor would he care if he did.
He pasted a look of surprise on his face. “Alvin, how’s it going man?”
“It’s going Ray. You got my hundred?”
“Um, no, not today man. Sorry.” He picked up his pace hoping Alvin would take a hint but Alvin wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.
“Ray, you know what they say, be always too soon, be never to fast.”
“Yeah Alvin.” Alvin was fond of platitudes. Alvin didn’t have many friends.
“So when you gonna have my money Ray? Huh?”
“When my ship comes in Alvin.”
Alvin slapped him on the back. “Good one Ray. Seriously though, I need my money bro.”
“I know Alvin. I’ll get it for you. Maybe tomorrow, okay?”
Alvin kept pace as they walked and showed no sign of letting up. Ray thrust his hands into the pockets of his ratty jeans and turned the collar of his windbreaker against the bitter cold. He tried to think what he could say that would get Alvin off his back.
“Well Ray you know what they say, time will tell.”
They were passing a construction site and a chorus of jackhammers prevented Ray from responding. He stopped to light a cigarette and Alvin turned to face him.
“Did you hear what I said Ray? Time will tell.”
“Yeah, well, patience is a virtue Alvin.”
Alvin did not smile. Ray did not notice. His eyes were on the wrecking ball that had just slammed into the side of the building on the site that was being demolished. He watched it hit a steel girder bang on and then swing sideways out of control. As it careened towards them Ray locked eyes with Alvin.
“Another thing Alvin, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.”
“That’s true Ray, but I still need my money.”
Ray stared at the wrecking ball in astonishment. It was like a gift from God.
“One more thing Alvin, he who hesitates is lost.”
He stepped quick smart to one side as the wrecking ball impacted with Alvin’s head and sent him flying into traffic where a bus finished him once and for all. As a crowd gathered and shrieking ensued Ray flicked the last of his cigarette into the gutter and strolled away from the scene.
He didn’t want to see any more. After all, curiosity killed the cat.