The Criminal Flute Player

The man stopped turning to see a woman perched on a wall playing a flute. The music was astoundingly good and so he cautiously approached. A ring of people already surrounded her and so he stood a little way off just watching. A small smile graced his lips as he moved close enough to toss a couple of dollar bills into the case before backing away again.

He was still watching when the police came by and broke up the performance. As she tried to grab the case a policeman knocked it over spilling the coins everywhere. She hesitated torn between collecting her money and bolting. He rushed forward grabbed the case in one hand and placed another on her back steering her away for the chaos that had begun.

Once she had gathered her wits enough she started to panic, struggling to get away from him. She pulled away but his hand snapped out quickly stopping her from going to far, “just keep walking,” he said lowly not stopping for a moment. “We need to get you away from here quickly,” she relaxed slightly and let him lead her onwards.

Finally he slowed down and gestured her into a coffee shop not far away. She walked haltingly towards it her pace unsteady until finally she walked through the door. He waited patiently while she sat down at a table before he joined her, settling easily into a seat. “Who are you?” She asked glaring at him angrily.

“The person who just saved you from being arrested,” he answered easily leaning back in his seat. One arm lay on the table in front of him, no doubt so he could grab her if she tried to bolt, whilst the other lay discarded over the top of a chair next to him. “Relax,” he told her as a waitress approached.

He rattled off his order quickly before waiting for her to make a decision before he spoke to her again. “You’ve got to be faster on the streets,” he said conversationally.

“What do you mean?” She asked her arms folded tight to her chest and her brows furrowed angrily.

“You hesitated. It cost you your money and nearly cost you your freedom.”

“They’d have let me go,” she answered stubbornly.

“I believe it would have been the sixth time. That’s eight months, isn’t it?” He replied his tone perfectly even. There was no threat to his words only simple fact but then he lent forward locking their gazes, “but that’s not what they’d charge you with, is it miss?”

She shuddered, the panic returning, and her gaze darted around the room looking for a way out. His hand closed around her wrist making escape a useless thought, “if I wanted you arrested I’d have left you there,” he hissed urgently. “Calm down before someone notices.” He kept his hand clasped tightly around her wrist until she stilled and then he slowly pulled away watching her closely.

“What do you want?” She half whispered as though she was afraid of the answer.

He was silent while two coffees were placed on the table between them, looking up to smile at the waitress. He was still silent as she reached out a shaking hand to lift her mug from the saucer and take a calming gulp of the hot drink. The mug chinked as she placed it back down and then he spoke, “I wanted to help you escape. You’re being framed and I need to find out why, so in the meantime I’m settling for keeping you safe.”

She stared at him unsure how to reply to such a statement. He smiled softly at her, “drink up and then it’s time to disappear.”

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