“You lifted my wallet,” he says. He is
pleased to have said “lifted”, thinking it sounds more wordly than
stole or took or even ripped off.
“I beg your pardon?” the girl says.
“I know you did—at the magazine counter.
If you’ll just give it back, we can forget the whole thing. If you
don't, then I’ll hand you over to the police.”
She studies him, her face serious. “All
right,” she says. She pulls the black bag onto her lap, reaches
into it and draws out a wallet.
He takes it from her. “Wait a minute,”
he says, “This isn’t mine.”
The girl runs, he bolts after her. It is
like a scene in a movie—bystanders scattering, the girl zigzagging
to avoid collisions, the sound of his own breathing reminding him
how old he is—until he hears a woman’s voice behind him:
“Stop, thief! Stop that man!”
Ahead of him the brunette disappears around
a corner and in the same moment a young man in a marine uniform
puts out a foot to trip him up. He falls hard, banging knee and
elbow on the tile floor of the terminal, but manages to hang on
to the wallet which is not his.