“Isn’t that some food,” Bob said while chewing his steak.
“I told you, it’s the best steakhouse in the area,” I replied.
Bob ate his food in silence for some time.
“So you’ve decided, huh?” Bob said.
“Yes,” I said and cut a piece from my steak. “Nothing personal, though.”
“Yes, yes, I understand. Business is business, mouths to feed and all that.”
“Yeah,” I said and continued eating.
A tinny song started playing. My phone was ringing. I excused myself and walked away from the table.
When I came back I found Bob frozen in time. He had stopped mid-swallow. All around me people were caught in awkward moments, frozen in time, like greek statues but infinitely more embarrassing.
I knew what it was, danger. The danger sense was on. I had to get away, but I was hungry, so I wrapped the remaining steak in tissue paper, pocketed it, and took off.
I ran till my feet hurt. But everywhere it was the same. Everything frozen, as if it were a large gallery of sculptures. Usually, time resumed its flow when I escaped from whatever situation I was in. But not this time.
An hour passed. I had passed several blocks. They were all the same. Sculptures everywhere, looking more like a theme park than a city.
I sat on the sidewalk. Sweat glistened over my brow. I patted my pockets to find the handkerchief. My hand hit something wet and soggy. It was a steak, the one from the restaurant. I took it out. It smelled bad. I wondered why I had the bright idea of stuffing it into my pocket and threw the thing on the sidewalk. Bad manners, yes. Littering, yes. But in a world of statues that didn’t seem like the worst thing to do.
I started walking again. After about ten minutes, a car zoomed past me. The statues sprung back to life. And I hailed a cab.
“112 Westmont Street,” I said and headed home.
My watch said that only fifteen minutes had passed since the phone call. It had been a long day.