“Mornin’, Goldy,” Shawn smiled at the orb-weaver as he took his seat on the sidewalk. It had been at Shawn’s favorite spot, with its web between a light post and the wall, every morning for a week now. Unlike most people, he didn’t mind spiders. He always felt a sort of connection with them; like them, he had to make his home where he could find it.
As he greeted the spider he saw past its web. A strangely dressed figure walked into Shawn’s view staring at his own hand. He wore an outfit that resembled a police uniform; but, it was entirely white. The man turned to face Shawn’s direction but he kept his eyes on his hand. As he walked closer Shawn noticed a red logo on the front of his uniform where the badge would be. The design looked like an open pair of red scissors pointing downward.
The stranger interested Shawn enough to keep watching him until the man stopped in front of him. The uniformed man looked down at Shawn, then at his hand, then back to the homeless man. A sparkle caught the corner of Shawn’s eye from the man’s hand; he seemed to be holding a cell phone.
“Hi,” he said suddenly. Then he smiled. The action felt like an afterthought to Shawn. “I’m on a schedule, so I’ll keep this short. You get one chance to listen. If you interrupt my offer is withdrawn and I leave. Understand?”
“Sure!” Shawn smiled. He assumed he was about to be pranked in some way and welcomed the entertainment. The man reached into his uniform pocket and pulled out a small notepad. He wrote something on it, then closed it and handed the pad to Shawn.
“Hold this, don’t read what I wrote yet,” he instructed. Shawn nodded. He hoped it would be a magic trick. “I’m going to ask you a question. I’m looking for a specific answer,” the stranger pointed at the notepad. “If you get the right answer I’ll give you 100 thousand dollars. If I get a different answer,” He shrugged. “You get to keep the notepad.” Shawn sat up straighter to be more attentive.
“Ready? Answer as fast as you can. What’s your favorite number?” he asked.
“33,” Shawn replied. He had never given it any thought, he didn’t know he had a favorite number. But when he answered he sounded like it was the most obvious thing in the world.” The uniformed man nodded at the notepad while he reached into his pocket.
Shawn flipped it open and saw a large 33 scribbled in pen. He scrambled to stand up and noticed the man held a pitch black business card.
“I won!? You’re going to give me money?!” he asked. The man nodded and threw the black card at the wall behind Shawn. A tall black portal opened and four burly uniformed men walked out, two of them holding nets.
“Sorry, I explained that wrong,” the man said. A sinister smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “If you get the right answer I get a 100 thousand dollar bounty.”
“Split five ways,” one of the men said behind Shawn. Then, he blacked out.