“Where the hell is he?”, Stephen Phillips mumbled to himself as he waited on yet another park bench. “This is the last time I’m doing this, I swear.”
Stephen was waiting to meet a man that was recommended to him by one of his former colleagues at The Times. The two former co-workers hadn’t seen each other in years and while catching up on their respective current projects, Stephen mentioned something that he was working on in his spare time. His old friend, Jacob, remembered meeting someone on one of his past stories that he thought Stephen might be interested in meeting. At the very least he thought Stephen would get a kick out of it, even if he didn’t gain any useful knowledge.
‘Eccentric’ was the word that Jacob kept using to describe the man that he was now waiting on. ‘Unreliable’ was the word that Stephen was thinking about now. Jacob gave him a phone number for the guy, which after five attempts he finally answered. Three calls later and the man, Anthony Joseph, agreed to meet Stephen in a public place of Anthony’s choosing. Stephen waited at the designated meeting place the first time for an hour to no avail. The second time he waited two hours.
Today was the third and final attempt at a meeting. He doubted very seriously if the man had anything to offer, but Jacob insisted that he meet with him. As he checked his watch for the hundredth time, a beat-up old sedan pulled up and the driver rolled down his window.
“Get in.”, a voice from inside the car yelled at Stephen. From the wild-eyed look of the driver he had no doubt that this was the man his old colleague told him about. As he cursed Jacob under his breath, he reluctantly stood up and got in the passenger seat. He was preparing to shake hands and introduce himself when the car suddenly took off.
Anthony Joseph kept looking over at his passenger, a little too often for Stephen’s liking. He wasn’t confident in this strange man’s driving ability when he was watching the road, much less while he was staring him down.
“Did anyone follow you?”, Anthony asked.
“Uh, no, not that I could tell. Why, are you being followed?”
Anthony just shook his head and laughed at his passenger. “Always. And now you will be too. You picked the wrong subject to take an interest in.”
Finally, it seemed that they reached their apparent destination, which was just an abandoned parking lot where an old grocery store used to be. Anthony put the car in park and shut off the ignition.
Stephen, getting more uncomfortable by the minute, finally broke the silence.
“So, Jacob tells me you and I share an interest in the same subject.”
“Hah, Jacob! That jerk basically laughed in my face while he was interviewing me. Some people can’t handle the truth. What about you? You call me up to make fun of me too? Let me know now, so I don’t waste anymore of my time.”
“No, not at all. I’m not here to waste my or your time. Jacob told me that you had some good information for me. And he definitely wasn’t laughing at you. He wouldn’t have recommended that I meet you if he didn’t take you seriously. He just doesn’t understand the subject matter.”
Anthony still looked doubtful, but he appeared to relax a little. “Okay, where do we start?”
“Let’s start from the beginning.”