He tried to ease it onto the sidewalk, but the dolly clanked loudly and scraped as it hit the concrete. Then he pushed it out into the flow of pedestrians. They stared at the bent figure, in a shabby trench coat and stocking cap pulled down over his gray hair, pushing a small, shiny safe in front of him. There was a heavy clunk at every break in the pavement. People would look at him for several seconds, sometimes having to look again, and some even made comments to each other:
"I gotta get me one of those." "Not me—all my shit is protected by my boys: Smith and Wesson..."
"That reminds me, Susan, I need to stop at the bank. I'll meet you back at the office." "Do you have to do that now?" "Yes, there's a slight problem..."
He did fine when the curbs were ramped, but some weren't, and the safe fell over once when he was trying to lower it into the street. He slowly bent over and with an effort set it upright. He struggled even more getting it up the opposite curb.
"Harold, help that old man." "Marge, anyone who wants a safe that bad deserves to lift it. Watch where you're going..."
"Y'know, for all we know, that geezer could be stealing that thing.... hey, did you get the renter's insurance?" "Nah. Too much." "Aw man, it's worth it. It covers everything..."
The safe was moving again. Clunk... clunk... clunk, on the cracks in the sidewalk. People looking as they flowed past him. On the next block a well-dressed man was speaking passionately into a small bullhorn, reading from a book. Now people stared at that man instead of him.
"...and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall recompense thee. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is..."
"My treasure is right here, brother! Check it out... Twenty-four K! Ain't no rust consumin' this!"
He got the dolly through the door of the building and let it slam. Pulled the knob to make sure the door had latched and locked. Then he looked up the stairs.
He stepped up one, then another. On the next step he pulled, failed, then pulled again and the safe rose. Thud! One. He stepped up. Pulled—trembling a little—and... thud! Two. He was breathing hard. Holding the dolly, he sat down slowly. With his other hand he took off his stocking cap and carefully pushed it into his pocket. He sat that way for several minutes. Then took a deep breath and pulled himself up...
At the top of the stairs, he started towards his door. His legs were shaky. Slowly the safe moved down the dark hallway. It took several minutes for him to find the key to his apartment, and his neighbor stuck her head out and peered at him. "Whatcha got there? That a fridge? Thatsa safe! Whatcha need that for? Whatchu got to put in there..." Then his door closed behind him and the bolt slid with a click.
In the center of the living room there was a sturdy wooden table. He pushed the dolly up to the table and set the safe on the floor. He stared at it. Then with incredible determination, he grabbed the steel cube and lifted it, almost lost his balance, took a step back, then pushed it onto the table. He stood there a minute to catch his breath. Then he spun the dial several times and pulled the handle. The thick door swung wide open. Stepping over to the couch, he selected a small pillow, and put it firmly in the bottom of the safe. Then, with more energy, he pulled a chair up to the table. And sat down quickly. He scooted himself closer. Then he leaned forward, crossed his arms on the table, and put his head into the safe.
And sighed. He was smiling.
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