“How long has it been?”
The question came from the woman sitting at a table in the diner, a half eaten donut on the plate in front of her. She cupped her chin in her hand and gave a deep sigh.
The young man sitting across from her shook his head but said nothing.
“I can’t believe he would just disappear like he has,” the woman went on. “The crime rate has almost doubled since he left. Criminals are getting bolder, even committing crimes in broad daylight.” She took a tentative sip from the coffee cup, placed it quietly on the table and leaned back.
“That wouldn’t happen if he were here.”
The man nodded his head in agreement. “You’re right about that. It’s a shame.”
“Do you suppose he had an accident? Did someone kill him?”
“I doubt it,” the man said. “Many have tried, but it was like he was indestructible.”
“Nobody is ‘indestructible’. He was always in danger. He was fighting the worst criminals in the world.” She stirred her coffee absently. “Something bad has happened to him.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” the man agreed. “He did some pretty amazing things. You saw them with your own eyes. You told me all about his heroics.”
“You were never around,” she said. “I didn’t think you believed me.”
“Oh, I believe you. You’re a reporter. You wouldn’t lie about it, would you?”
“Of course not.” she said. Heaving another deep sigh, she stood up and slipped into her jacket.
“I have to get back to work. I have an interview with the mayor in an hour.”
The man nodded. “The mayor himself? Impressive.”
She made a face. “I’m not looking forward to it. He’s just as curious as we are about this, and thinks I should have the answer just because I reported on him.”
“I don’t envy you,” the man said. “Tell him this. Tell him that we can blame his disappearance on technology?”
She frowned. “Technology? What is that supposed to mean?”
The man dug into his pocket and held up a smart phone. She looked at it, her frown deepening.
He wiggled it back and forth, a sardonic smile on his face. “Technology.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
The man shrugged, put the phone back in his pocket and started for the door. “I don’t expect you to understand. Maybe someday….”
She stomped her foot impatiently and glared at him. “What in the world would a smart phone have to do with this? You can be so maddening. I…I…” she sputtered.
He held the door open for her. She brushed by him, paused as if to say something, then strode off in the direction of City Hall. He stepped out behind her, watched as she walked away. He followed her with his eyes until she turned the corner and disappeared.
“Someday,” he murmured.
He crossed the street and walked slowly down the block. At the intersection he stopped and looked up the street. Nothing. He looked the other way. Nothing. No sign of a phone booth. Like slide rules and carbon paper, they had disappeared. With a sigh, he pulled the phone from his pocket and looked at it accusingly.
Technology has its downside.
He shook his head sadly, put the phone back in his pocket and started to walk.
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