A thief came out of the shadows, dressed in all black and wearing a balaclava and held a pistol at Darren Tanian. “Money!” He shouted.
“Ain’t a thang.” Darren sang. He took a drag from his black quellazaire and exhaled a thin, grayish vapor.
“Money!” The thief repeated.
“Where?” Darren asked.
The thief cocked the hammer. “Gimme money or you’re dead!”
“Why?” Darren said.
“If you don’t give it to me, I’ll shoot you!”
“No, no.” Darren said.
“Are you stupid?” The thief said. “I said I’ll shoot you if you don’t give me your money!”
Darren said. “That wasn’t what I was asking.”
The thief looked confused.
“I meant,” Darren said, “Why do you need the money?”
“Are you serious?”
“You’re the guy with the gun, you tell me.”
The thief stared at him in disbelief. “I need it… for bills.”
“Bills,” Darren said.
“Yeah,” The thief said. “I have some bills, okay? A lot of bills. Now give me the money!”
“Do they have you on a payment plan?” Darren said.
The thief stared at him. “Yeah… sure, they do.”
“I hope the interest rate isn’t making it hard to pay down.”
“You’d be surprised.” The thief said. “The interest is at eleven percent.”
“That’s not too bad,” Darren said. “I know someone whose paying twenty-three percent.”
“That’s insane!” The thief said. “They got bad credit or something?”
“I think so.” Darren said. “I stay out of that trap and pay for everything cash.”
The thief nodded. “That’s the only way to go these days…” His voice trailed off, and he quickly pointed the gun at Darren’s face. “Money!”
Darren sighed. “Do I look like I have money?”
The thief looked Darren over. He was dressed in black, from the turtleneck, slacks and vintage Italian ankle boots to the shimmering turquoise peacock brocaded silk yukata.
“You just said you did!,” The thief said.
“I said I pay for everything cash.” Darren said. “Just because I’m a magician doesn’t mean I can make money appear out of thin air. If you don’t have money on you, doesn’t it stand to reason that I may not, either?”
The thief blinked and thought about it. He suddenly shook his head in irritation. “Just gimme what you got!”
“Sure,” Darren reached out and placed something in the thief’s hand as he walked past. “Enjoy.”
The thief looked at his palm and blinked at the six bullets. He looked at his revolver, aimed it at the distance and pulled the trigger. The gun said, “Click!”