Clueless to Conspiracy (5-15-18)

[WP] You’ve been walking all day, so you decide to take a rest on a nearby park bench. Once you do, a man in a black suit comes out and drops a briefcase by your feet before nodding and walking away. You notice a note attached to the case… [Link to post.]

I watched the stiff man walk away then turned my gaze back to the briefcase. A thin white string wrapped around the shiny black handle and attached it to a small sheet that looked like it had typed instructions on it. I looked up and down the walkway, but saw no sign of anyone else. Including the well dressed gentleman that left it behind.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I shrugged to myself then left the aluminum park bench, and the black case behind. I checked the time and grumbled to myself when I saw how late it was. I spent most of the day out and about, hoping to be “in town” in case some of my friends wanted to hang out. Now that six o’clock was fast approaching I decided to grab some food and just head home. A twinge of sadness pulled at my heart, but my small circle of friends were known for being very busy. I did not begrudge them even if I did end up dining alone.

I headed towards my favorite pizza shop, and felt a bit better when the waitress greeted me with a warm smile. I visited the shop almost every time I was in town and got along well with the staff. Sandy, the particular waitress that greeted me today was my favorite server. She did her job well and always had a friendly word for me.

“Usual?” She asked, and I nodded. She walked back to enter the order, then returned with my drink. “Hey, didn’t you say your birthday was coming up last time you were here?” she asked as she set the dark soda and straw down on the wooden picnic style table. I nodded at her while I reminded myself to give her a bigger than normal tip for remembering.

“Today, actually.” I said and forced a smile.

“Really?” her smile grew wide. “You come through here often enough, tell you what. Today your pizza’s on the house. Happy Birthday.”

“Wow, thanks. I appreciate it.” I decided to tip her the cost of the meal. I doubted she had the power to decide something was ‘on the house’ and assumed she planned to pay it out of pocket. She smiled and walked away to check on her other tables. I heard the bell jingling over the front door, and looked up. My booth faced the door and I caught sight of a woman wearing a black suit carrying a black briefcase. It struck me as odd that she did not remove her sunglasses once she was in the restaurant. She walked towards my table, I almost expected her to sit in the booth seat across from me. Once she reached my table she nodded at me, then placed the briefcase on the floor next to my table. She turned and walked out of the shop. I looked down at the black briefcase, a small note was tied to the handle with a small red string.

“Nice briefcase,” Sandy said as she walked by. I raised my hand to catch her attention.

“Hey Sandy, can I get the pizza to go? And the briefcase isn’t mine, you can put it in the lost & found.”

“Are you sure? It looks like it was left for you, I saw that woman drop it off,” she asked. I shrugged.

“If it was for me she should have said something. I can’t read minds, and she didn’t communicate. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s not my problem.” Sandy laughed.

“I guess you’re right. No sweat, I’ll get your pie boxed up.” She grabbed the briefcase then walked to the back. After sitting and staring at my phone willing it to ring for about 10 minutes she brought me the box of pizza and a 2-liter soda in a grey plastic bag. “Since you’re taking it to go, I tossed in a drink too.”

“Wow, thanks Sandy. You’re the best,” I smiled at her. I dropped her generous “tip” on the table, with the ones on top, and scooted my way out of the booth.

“Happy birthday again!” she waved at me as I walked out of the restaurant. I half lifted the pizza box in lieu of a wave and stepped out into the evening. I caught sight of the descending sun through the trees and felt a cool breeze caress my cheeks. I decided it was too beautiful a night to rush back home. I had a great pizza ready to eat, so I needed a great view to go with it. I walked to the nearby pier and sat on one of the wooden benches to enjoy my pizza and the sunset.

I began to work on my fourth slice when I caught sight of another suit walking towards me. This time an older gentleman with a greying beard left a briefcase near me. The note was tied to the handle with a green string. 

“Hey, is that for me?” I asked the man as he walked by, but he ignored me. “HEY!” I yelled after him, but he kept walking. I sighed, then closed the pizza box. I wanted to get home and end the day to put the disappointing, and weird, birthday behind me. My friends were great; I knew they’d make it up to me. But it still stung a bit that I didn’t get so much as a “Happy Birthday” text, even if they couldn’t hang out. 

I walked into my house and saw two of my best friends having a conversation in the front room. They both looked at me with surprise.

“What are you doing here?” Fred asked. He appeared to be in the middle of getting dressed, or maybe undressed. His belt buckle was undone, his fly unzipped, and he wore only a white undershirt. 

“Yeah you’re not suppose to be back for a couple of hours, how’d you get done so fast?” Lynn asked. She was completely dressed, but her makeup was half off, and her hair looked like a coppery bird’s nest. 

“Done with what?” I asked. I set the pizza box and unopened 2-liter on the counter.

“Your birthday scavenger hunt.” Lynn said. “We’re still setting up your party you idiot.” She walked over and smacked me on the shoulder. 

“What birthday scavenger hunt? No one told me anything about it.” 

“The park, the pizza shop, the pier? You know, you were supposed to follow the clues then come home. But they were supposed to take you some time to decipher,” Fred said. He finished zipping up his pants and buckling his belt. I heard the door behind me open, but now that everything was coming together I assumed it was a party guest. 

“I didn’t look at the clues, I didn’t know they were for me.” I said, then turned to see who came in. Sandy held the briefcase with red string up and smiled broadly at me. 

“Yeah, he’s pretty clueless. Cute, but clueless.” She walked by me, being careful to rub herself against me as she passed. “You didn’t open the soda either, did you?” She asked as she pulled the drink out of its plastic bag. The bottle looked empty of soda, but it held a rolled up scroll inside. She shook it around for added effect. 

“Oh yeah, I guess that did feel kind of light,” I said. 

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