Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Invisible Man

By Ryan Traynor, Contributing Writer

 

Craig sat in the front of his taxicab during a light rain watching the wiper blades go back and forth. He was amazed that in a bustling city like New York, where the constant din of car horns and shouting people roared constantly in the air, he could feel so invisible. For the past five years he has watched as over and over, the people go in and out of his cab without so much as a glance at his face, or any acknowledgement of his presence. Looking out his windshield now, he wondered if he would ever make a difference.

Pulled out of his contemplation by the sound of a honking car behind him, he pulled forward through the green light. Up ahead he spotted a tall, fair-skinned man in a pinstriped suit raising one arm while grasping a black leather briefcase in the other. Even though he was two lanes over, he pulled his steering wheel sharply to the right, squealing his tires. The man, in his mid-40’s with salt and pepper hair, opened the door, ducked his head down and slid into the back seat.

“56th Street and Madison,” he stated emphatically. “And make it quick!”

Pulling out from the curb, Craig glanced in his rearview mirror and once again was overcome with the feeling of invisibility.  The man had his head buried in his briefcase and didn’t even bother to glance his way.

The staccato ring of the Craig’s passenger’s phone made the man jump slightly and then he quickly pulled the phone to his ear.

Craig acted uninterested, but kept his ears peeled to the conversation while his eyes looked ahead at the traffic.

“He won’t change his mind? …That’s unfortunate. If that reporter doesn’t change his mind at the lunch meeting tomorrow at the 21 Club, you know what to do… I’ll text you his home address. By Thursday at 5 I want to get a call that it’s been taken care of. Do you understand what I mean?  Take care of it!”

It was only then that the man glanced up nervously. Craig began humming to the radio as if he’d been doing it the whole time instead of making a mental note of every detail of the man’s appearance and conversation. Pulling to the curb and grabbing the man’s fare, Craig watched his indifference and vowed right then and there that he would get to the bottom of that suspicious conversation.

He spent the next morning at an electronic store buying listening and microscopic video equipment that could be recorded to his hard drive computer at home. He then went to Club 21 and waited outside at the newsstand until he saw the man from the night before check in for his reservation. He strode across the room and joined another 30ish man in khaki pants and a gray polo shirt. His long brown hair was messy as if he’d not slept for the last week. The lines around his eyes and brow made him look frantic.

Craig quickly darted past the front hostess station and made his way partly to the men’s table.

“Did anyone call for a taxi?” Craig asked loudly.  No one looked up.  “Taxi anyone?” This allowed time for Craig to walk past their table and, “accidentally” bumping it, place the listening device on the edge of the man’s briefcase. The device was disguised as a black button so it blended perfectly on the briefcase.  He then made his way back to his cab and put on his earphones. Playing with the volume, he was able to clearly pick up the conversation.

“You’re not running with that story. I’m warning you, Ben. Commit to me now or you’ll be sorry,” the suitcase man hissed between clenched teeth.

“I have the evidence. People need to know the truth and I’m going to give it to them,” the reporter retorted with a slap of his hand on the table that sent the silverware clanking together.

Craig heard the screech of a chair being pulled back against the wooden floor. He looked up to see the reporter bolting out the door. He had a decision to make – follow the reporter or follow the mastermind. He put his car in gear and pulled behind the taxi that swallowed up the reporter. Leading him to the New York Daily News, Craig parked his car in the taxi zone out front and entered the building right behind him. He followed the reporter up the elevator to the newsroom and listened as the receptionist greeted him as Ben Harrison, letting Craig know his name.

“Can I help you?” she asked Craig in an apathetic tone as if she was in the last hour of her eight hour shift.

“I’m here to see Ben Harrison,” Craig said with uneasy confidence. “I know where his office is.”

He quickly followed Ben into his office, noticing the nameplate on the door indicating that he was a financial reporter. His entrance caused Ben to take in a deep breath as he turned around and was startled.

For the next ten minutes Craig explained to Ben the events of the last sixteen hours. Ben sat in disbelief with his hands pulling through his shoulder-length hair.

“I don’t know what to do,” Ben cried in a strained voice. “If I run with the story about the power company’s fraud, I may be risking my life. If I don’t, millions of people may lose their life savings.”

Craig took control. “Let’s get your evidence and put it in a safe place.” He pushed him out the door and they made their way to Ben’s apartment in Craig’s cab, careening around the curves faster than a bullet.

Ben’s apartment door was ajar. The hair on the back of their necks stood on end as they peered inside, shaking with fear. No one was inside but it looked like a tornado had made a path through the room. Papers were everywhere, books were on the floor, the couch was torn open as if it was a patient on an operating table. Ben bee-lined for a loose floorboard in the bedroom. A strong smell of burnt paper was in the air. The room had ashes scattered across the floor around the bare hole in the floor where the evidence proving the company had committed fraud had been stored earlier. Ben collapsed on the floor, his years of research gone up in smoke.

“We need to get out of here, Ben,” Craig exclaimed as he grabbed his shoulder and pulled him to his feet.

The movement shot Ben into alertness once again. “Wait, my computer! I scanned all the evidence into it!  We need to get it – NOW!”

They sprinted to the cab and wove in and out of traffic to get to the office as fast as possible.

Breathlessly arriving, the receptionist yelled at him as he passed, “Ben, your computer is fixed now. The technicians were just here.”

Ben and Craig stared at each other with wide eyes and open mouths. As if in slow motion, they dashed to the computer.

Inside the office, instead of Ben’s usual rock climbing screensaver, there was the empty blue screen of death. A few sharp clicks of the keys and he realized that all his files had been vaporized. They sat in silence for ten minutes, the feeling of defeat seeping into their bones.

The silence was broken suddenly by the ringing of the telephone.

“Ben. Where’s your article? It’s due in one hour and we haven’t seen the draft,” Chris, his New Jersey editor asked.

“I have a problem, Chris. My computer crashed and I lost my files,” Ben relayed.

“Would the backup files we keep on our server here in New Jersey help, Ben?  We back them up every night, you know,” Chris asked.

“Yes, yes, yes!” Ben exclaimed. Email it directly to my secretary’s computer at emnelson@nydailynews.org. Thanks Chris!”

In the next 30 minutes Ben was able to download the article, make his final edits and send it for publication. It would make the evening paper. Together Craig and Ben decided that they would immediately walk over to the District Attorney’s office to show them the evidence.

The District Attorney personally spent the next two days sifting through the evidence and monitoring the fallout from the article. Ben was the important final nail in the coffin for the mastermind, causing numerous arrests in the following days. Ben accepted witness protection for his safety until the trial was completed and his safety was assured.

Listening to the news of the arrests on the radio, Craig sat in the front of his taxicab listening to the pitter-patter of yet another light rain, watching the wiper blades go back and forth. At that moment he realized that even though no one knew who he was or even noticed him, he still made a difference.