All It Takes Is a Little Bump
A Short Story by William Hrdina
The alarm on Anton's cell phone beeped interminably. With a grunt, he reached over and blindly pushed at its face until the beeping stopped. The silence was marvelous- and short lived. Before Anton could sit up, the door slammed open and Anton's boss, a hulk of a man named Sami, walked into the room.
"Wake up!" Sami exclaimed, "There's work to do!"
"Shut up fat man." Anton growled in response.
But he got up. With a groan, Anton stretched his back like a cat and rotated his head on its axis- his neck muscles popped audibly. He bent over, touched his toes ten times, an exercise he'd picked up in grade school in Moscow, and pulled off his dirty t-shirt. He grabbed a fresh one from a pile on the small corner dresser, and put it on.
While Anton prepared to face the day, Sami plopped down on Anton's worn and dirty couch- it groaned with the weight.
"I don't know why you live like this. By now you have all the money you need- why live like a pig."
"Do you really have to ask? Poor is invisible. I'm safer here than in any $5000 a night hotel. People look for me in those kinds of places. No one ever looks for me here."
"Right. Except you. You know Sami, it's nice- I only trust one person. So if I ever get betrayed, I don't have to spend any time hemming and hawing over who it was that betrayed me- I know all I have to do is hunt you down and kill you." Anton smiled. It was the kind of smile that came with a warning.
"Well, I guess that fulfills our daily dose of friendly chit-chat, you ready to get to work?" Sami said. He looked a little uncomfortable.
Anton sighed. He didn't respond. Instead, he got up and went to the door. He stopped long enough to pull on a pair of socks and shoes and get his hands wet. He ran his dripping fingers a couple of times through his hair and considered it combed for the day. The hair flattened back for a moment before returning to its normal chaotic state.
An explosion outside- caused, no doubt, by one of the dozens of terrorist organizations who fought for dominance in this particular region of geography- caused Sami to jump and curse. Anton didn't react. He didn't get to where he was by reacting to the unexpected. Instead of panicking and running for cover- his brain already estimated the distance (about 1/4 mile) and dismissed the threat. If he reacted to every explosion- Anton would never get more than a few hours sleep- and he wouldn't be considered the best bump man in the business by the very, very few people who even knew such a business existed.
Sami, on the other hand, lived near the top of a high security high rise. This was the essential truth of urban living- the rich lived high above the poor- above the pollution and the sewage and the dirt. Sami lived high enough he couldn't hear the explosions and secure enough the terrorists didn't come close enough to hear anyway. So when he heard an explosion it was a novelty- a fright. For Anton, it was just like a train going passed.