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Volume 3, Number 5
May, 1998

The Green Book

David Lind
Harold Smith
Fiona Jane
Dean Shutt

Chapter One

The man was clearly nervous, thought Megan as she observed him from across the sparsely-occupied Lightrail car. From the moment he bustled into the car and took a seat in the corner, she sensed a tension about him. His eyes were fixed straight ahead for the most part, darting occasionally toward the door, down at his watch, around at his fellow passengers, etc. He held his attache case tightly in his lap with both hands, his feet planted squarely on the floor beneath him. At one point he seemed to notice Megan watching him and seemed almost to lose some color from his already pale cheeks, though Megan could have easily have been imagining it.

It wasn't that she was being nosy, or maybe it was, though she had a ready rationalization for it. You see, Megan fancied herself an aspiring novelist and, though she had never actually written an entire book, was currently hard at work "fleshing out" an idea for one of her "works in project", which now numbered close to two dozen. Thus, she felt it important to her work that she take every opportunity to observe other people and learn from them, the better to help her grow as a writer. Also, it helped to pass the 45 minutes she had to spend each morning (and again each evening) riding Lightrail to and from her job in Mountain View.

Her method was always the same. First she would watch her "subject" for a few moments and mentally catalog his movements, facial expressions, body postures, etc. Then she would try to envision personal details about the person. Is the subject married or single? What sort of work do they do? Are they late for an appointment? Do they like puppies? Things of that nature. Next, she would "typecast" them. Was this the Hero or the Villain? The Sidekick or the Love Interest? Might this be a Cop? A Hit Man? A Store Clerk? Finally, once she had fully defined her subject, she rewarded them by creating a story for them. Most of the time the stories she envisioned faded into oblivion within moments of reaching her stop, but every now and then one of them would stick with her and, upon arriving home later that evening, be added to the ever-growing list of "works in progress".

Her current subject seemed a good candidate for the list. He was an attractive enough man, though not so much so that he would create a diversion. He looked to be in his mid- to late-thirties, with just a hint of gray creeping forth from his temples, adding a comforting warmth to his otherwise coal-black hair. His frame was not overly impressive, though he seemed to be reasonably fit, as his tastefully-tailored suit successfully failed to disguise. At one point Megan found herself skipping ahead to the story-telling phase of her exercise, particularly one of the many passionate love-making...oh, let's be honest, one of the many steamy sex scenes. She corrected herself, though, and returned to her observation.

The man's face, she decided to name him "Colton", was distinguishing only in that it was unremarkable. Brown eyes, modest nose, no dimples, no mustache. He did have somewhat of a strong jaw line, though, and Megan noted with growing interest that that jaw line was clenched rather tightly. Further, while his brow wasn't exactly furrowed, the skin was stretched rather tightly for comfort. Megan began to guess that "Colton" was perhaps in some sort of trouble at work, though that wouldn't exactly explain his apparent increased alarm at every stop. Nor would it explain his now-obvious panic at being observed by Megan.

He's having an affair, thought Megan. The weasel snuck down here for a quickie last night and fell asleep. Now he has to get back to the office without anyone he knows seeing him before ol' wifey calls so he can claim he worked all night and slept in the lounge. Pig. And to think she was just getting ready to cast him as the good guy.

Out of habit, she glanced down at his left hand to look for the ring. Nope, must have taken it off. Not the first time either, as he seemed to lack the tell-tale indentation mark on the ring finger. She couldn't help noticing as the train pulled up to her stop that the man's knuckle's were sheer white on the attache case handle. She began to wonder what importance the attache case might have to the man as the doors slid open and people around her began to shuffle around. She took one last glance at "Colton's" face before rising, only to notice with alarm that the look on his face had changed from nervous tension to sheer panic. Several loud "CRACK"'s exploded through the car, hurting Megan's ears as "Colton" jerked hideously and blood fountained out of his chest. In an instant the entire scene had degenerated into total bedlam as panicked passengers stampeded, screaming, toward the exits. Megan found herself slammed to the metal floor of the train, the wind knocked from her lungs, her head banging painfully against a chair support. Just before blacking out, she saw a gloved hand extend downward from a dark sleeve and snatch up the attache case.

"Funny," she thought, "such hairy forearms."
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