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Black - Part 11



This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

From Part 10

Hiding between houses, John saw the police car drive by. He made his way back to the sidewalk and continued his journey on foot. John realized this was going to be a long day – and night. He safely made it downtown when Greg met him at a stoplight. He sped down the street and turned at a Burger King. He ran through the front door, through the kitchen, and out the back. Taken by surprise, the employees did nothing.

John needed to think fast. The dumpster sat in a corner of the parking behind the restaurant. John thought, It’s time to try something new. Dumpster diving. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Greg stormed through the door. “Where is he?”

The cook pointed to the back door. Greg leaped over the counter and ran for the door. It was the spilled grease on the floor that took him down. Pulling himself up, he made his way to the door. He observed the parking lot. John was gone. Or was he?

Greg spied the dumpster. He lied, “Black, you’re surrounded. Come out with your hands up.” There was no movement, no noise. The officer repeated his demand. Still nothing.

Cautiously, he walked toward the heavy, metal dumpster. He slowly lifted the lid. John was not there. In Greg’s mind, the question was, How did John escape? And where did he go? He hurried back to the police car.



Working his way up through piles of french fries, cups with leftover soda, and half-eaten burgers, John finally emerged from the dumpster. He shivered as an ice cube melted and ran down his back. His hair was a mix of ketchup, melted cheese, and grease. Remnants of sweet and sour sauce and a few remaining drips from a chocolate milkshake ran down his face. He looked for a napkin clean enough to wipe the mess from his face. That being done, John headed for the backstreets of town. Caution was the word. He knew the police were still looking for him.

A block down the street, he saw a car pull out of the driveway. Making sure not to be seen, John ran to the back of the house. He looked through the kitchen window. All was quiet. Slowly, he turned the knob. It was unlocked.

The work schedule on the refrigerator confirmed what John already knew. The house was empty and nobody would be home for several hours.

John started up the stairs to find the bathroom. He threw his dirty clothes on the floor and turned on the hot water. It was the best he felt in two days - clean and fresh.

The next stop - the bedroom. He needed to find some clean clothes. He opened the closet and checked the shirt and pants size. “Remarkable,” John thought. “Perfect fit!” He grabbed three shirts and three pants and headed for the kitchen. A couple of ham sandwiches and a glass of milk, and he’d feel almost normal again.

He turned on the 12:00 o’clock news, only to see his own face staring back at him. The bank surveillance video had made its rounds. He knew not only the police, but the neighborhood watch group would be looking for him. He turned off the TV.

Exhausted, he made his way back to the bedroom and fell on the bed.


Sleep came quickly. A sense of peace flowed over him as he drifted off. However, that soon passed as he awoke with the barrel of a shotgun resting on his forehead. A woman’s gaze pierced him as she stared from behind the gun.

“I don’t know who you are - or what you want - but you better have some answers before I pull the trigger.”

John tried to sit up, but the barrel pressed deeper into his skull, limiting his movement.

Slowly, she backed away and reached for a key above the door. She whispered to John, “You're not going anywhere.” She stepped into the hall, locked the bedroom door from the outside, and called 911.

John stood for a moment, weighing his options. A wall remained before him. A wall behind him. One to his left. One to his right. He thought the woman may be right. He wasn’t going anywhere. John could hear her talking through the door to the 911 dispatcher. Her voice faded as she walked down the stairs to wait for the police. Still, breaking down the door wasn’t an option, since there was a loaded rifle somewhere on the other side.

His eyes panned the room. A poorly secured air conditioner took up space in the sole window. Jumping from the second story didn’t appeal to John, but it appeared to be doable. He had an idea.

From across the room, he lined up with the AC. Focusing on the appliance, he ran as hard as he could toward it. At the last second, he jumped and kicked it. It fell in pieces to the ground. John followed its example. A bruise on his leg and a cut on his hand were the extent of his injuries. He was off and running.

As the police pulled up to the house, the woman met them on the porch. She motioned for them to hurry. “I locked him in the upstairs bedroom. All you have to do is take him away. Follow me.”


They raced upstairs. The police barked orders. “Get on the ground - facedown. Get your hands behind your head. Do you understand?” There was no reply. The officer repeated his instructions. Silence was the only answer.

“Okay, Ma’am. Give me the key and stand back. We’re going in.” The knob turned, and they opened the door. An empty room stared back.

Blocks away, John continued to run. He slowed as he noticed a homeless shelter on the corner. It could be the last place police would look. It could be the first place police looked. John opened the door and walked inside. A kind, elderly woman met him.

“You need a place to stay?”

Yes, yes I do.”

“Come over here. I’ll get you registered. Your name?”

John’s mind went blank for a moment. She repeated the question.

“Jo. . . Jo . . .”

“Sir, are you okay? Here. Sit down. I’ll get you a cup of water.”

John had time to think. As she returned, John volunteered, “My name is Josh Spade.”

“And Mr. Spade, why are you looking for shelter?”

Again, John struggled to answer. A man sitting in the corner watched the exchange. He walked toward them. “Miss Feinstein. He seems to be shaken. No doubt he’s dealing with some hard things. I’ll talk to him.”

He sat down next to John. “Hi. my name is Harry Stafford, but they call me Homeless Harry. You can just call me Harry. What’s your name?”

The name Josh Spade rolled off his tongue, but to Harry, it didn’t sound natural. Harry whispered, “You in trouble with the law?”

John stuttered, “No, no, not at all. Why do you say that?”

“Cause I know who you are, John Black. Believe me, this ain’t where you wanna be. The cops are all over this place, but I know of an abandoned warehouse down the street. Nobody will ever find you there. Wait here. I’m gonna tell Miss Feinstein we’re goin’ for a walk. I’ll take you to the warehouse, then tell her you changed your mind about stayin’. Wait here.”

A few seconds later, Harry was back, and the two left.

“So tell me, Harry, how do you know who I am?”

“I was hangin’ out at Walmart this morning watchin’ the TVs. Man, you look just like you do on TV. Anyway, I don’t think Miss Feinistein recognized you, but you’re quite famous in these parts. You’re on all the TV stations, the newspapers - you’ve really made a name for yourself.

“I saw you strugglin’ to give Miss Feinstein a fake name. First time you’ve had a need for that, right?”

John nodded.

“I can help you with that, but first, let’s get you settled in the warehouse. You’ll be safe there. Nobody will bother you there. I know. I stayed there many times. You just have to know how to get in - and lucky for you, I know how!”

The two strolled down the street to the warehouse. Harry checked to make sure nobody saw them as they climbed through an open window in the back. The main floor was enormous, with plenty of shelving to hide behind. The second floor was more complicated. Empty offices, supply rooms, and storage areas filled the space. John would be safe here.

“So John . . . I mean Josh Spade. We need to get your name officially changed. You got a driver’s license?”

“Yeah, sure.” John pulled it from his wallet to show Harry.

“No Josh. You don’t got a driver’s license. You got John’s license. You know what kind of problem that would cause if the police picked you up/ How ‘bout a social security card in Josh’s name? What about credit cards?”

A worried look covered John’s face. “No, I don’t have any of those.”

Harry smiled. You need to have ‘em, and lucky for you, I can get ‘em for you. Look Josh, you’re in a lot of trouble. You took the life of another human bein’. How could you? But that’s over with now. I can help you. I can fix all your cards. You’re no longer John Black but Josh Spade. And I can do it all for you for a mere $8000.”

John’s heart sank. “Where am I supposed to get $8000 when I’m living on the streets? Tell me, Harry. Tell me.”

“No problem, my man.” Just do what you always done.”

“Which is?”

“Burglary. Burglary, man. You must be good at it. The news says you got away with tons of money.”

“I got away with nothing. I lost my job. I lost my family. I lost my self-respect. Now, I’m losing my identity and have to go into hiding.”

Harry was persistent. “Look, buddy, all you have to do is one more job - just one more job and we can fix all your problems. What will it be?

© 2022 William Kovacic

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