There was absolutely no reason for me to think of murky waters. I was in the middle of lunch, staring blankly at my salad which tasted like dirt, when the phrase “murky waters” flashed before my eyes like two neon light bulbs.
Was I losing my mind?
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if I was. I’ve been too high-strung lately and losing my sanity just seemed about right. But murky waters? It didn’t make sense.
Pushing the salad plate aside, I paid for my bill and walked home. The air was brisker than I remembered it. At least the weather wasn’t as boringly predictable as I was.
Halfway through my thoughts, I felt something jab me through my jacket. “Wallet,” a voice whispered in my ears.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Twenty years in the city, and I get mugged on that day? “Wallet, now.”
My elbow was gripped firmly and I was pulled away slowly from pedestrian traffic. My eyes darted back and forth; couldn’t the people see what was happening? Didn’t that lady see me being manhandled in broad daylight?
I soon found myself in an alley, staring into the barrel of a gun. Quick, what would anyone else do under these circumstances? Just follow instructions and whatever you do, don’t get killed. “Okay, okay, I’m looking for my wallet,” I heard myself speak in a steady voice that belied my shaking hands.
I then noticed that my aggressor wasn’t alone. There was a hooded man a few steps back, playing with a small, shiny dagger, leaning on the brick wall. His face was unreadable as he stared at me. The man holding the gun, on the other hand, had eyes that threatened to pop out. I swallowed the lump in my throat as he held his gun with hands that seemed even shakier than mine.
I found my wallet but couldn’t pull it out. My hand was stuck in my jacket pocket. I tried pulling at it but it rattled the man trying to mug me.
I heard a loud pop, felt something burn through my eyes into my skull.
My alarm clock woke me up. Although my mouth was dry, I was drenched in sweat. It was just a goddamn dream.
I braced myself for the cold day. It hadn’t snowed in a week, but the weather wasn’t exactly warm either. It made walking the block to my office a teeth-chattering hike.
There was nothing extraordinary about my day so far. I jumped out of my seat when my secretary dropped her mug; other than that, I had completely forgotten about my nightmare.
As usual, I had lunch right across my office. It was the only saving grace in my otherwise gloomy street: functioning heaters, waiters who didn’t hover, and good salads.
As I swallowed my first mouthful of lettuce and olives, I noticed a blonde woman in the corner. She was reading a book. The cover read, Murky Waters.
My heart skipped a beat. The salad in my mouth started to taste like sand. Murky waters. Murky waters.
I hastily paid for my barely-eaten lunch and left the restaurant. The air was even colder than I recalled. I picked up my pace.