Johnny opened the car door to step out to the place that would most satisfy his hunger. Suddenly I felt sadder for him than ever. “Johnny, would you like me to drop off some food now and then for you. I could put some containers over by the guardrail at the edge of the parking lot. It wont be anything special but it will be hearty. Check there tonight or tomorrow morning when you pass by.” He closed the door, waved, and turned away.
I left him in the lot and drove off. I did not want to look back to see if he had chosen to eat or drink his breakfast. I picked up my cell phone and called my friend to tell him that I had retrieved his sword and that I would explain how later. My voice was flat. At sunset that day I brought some cooked rice and some soup to the drop off point. I stood and hoped.
Many times over the last months my mind wandered to that exchange often. The event presented me with a the rich tapestry of a puzzling emotions and unanswerable questions.
Was Johnny’s part rehearsed? Had he expected to come visit me later that day if I had not sought him out first and offer to get the property back for a simple finder’s fee? Had I been the willing victim of extortion? Had I been masterfully manipulated and lead by Johnny to the victorious end of his plan? Would he be back sometime soon and try something similar? What would be the result next time?
When I looked at Johnny I felt like I was looking at some image of myself reflected by the contorting surface of some rippling puddle. Ironically my name is John too. I had briefly explored a wildly foreign world and returned home safely.
Two days later I returned to the drop off point and found that the food was still there. Nothing had been touched. I picked it up and placed the food in my car behind the driver seat to dispose of later. The soup container fell over and leaked onto the car mat. It took some time before the foul smell was fully gone.