The Little Man

The little man whistled as he trotted up the stairs, a tuneless little ditty of discordant notes.  He kept his lips pursed as he blew through them mainly as something to keep himself occupied.  He never really remembered any music; it was just something to do.

The case in his hand felt heavier than he remembered, but wasn’t it always heavier on the way up?  On the way down, of course, it would feel lighter.

Funny how such a small little bit of weight could influence the feel of the case so much…

Even though the case bounced off the little man’s knee as he took the stairs, there was no sound from inside.  The foam kept the parts from rattling, from bouncing against each other.  The little man had spent a significant amount of time shaping the holes in the foam interior, shaking the case around to make sure that it produced no noise.

Although there were quite a lot of stairs, the little man managed quite easily to keep up his whistling.  Cardio, he thought to himself, suppressing a little chuckle.  It was such an important skill, applicable in so many different areas of life.

The man’s other hand rose up to pat at his belly, protruding slightly even through his thick black pea coat.  He had been partaking in too much rich food, as of late.  Not enough visits to the gym – what with all his flights, scheduled for the oddest hours of the day, it was difficult to find the time to climb onto a treadmill.

He glanced up.  He was finally starting to reach the top of the building, after a good seven (or was it eight?) flights of stairs.  The little man paused long enough to suck in one last breath, and then pushed on to the top.

The door at the top of the stairs was locked, but that was only a second’s hassle to the ring of clever little steel implements that the man withdrew from one of his coat pockets.  As soon as the tumblers clicked back, giving up their brief denial, the little man was through, stepping out into the gray gloom of an overcast sky.

The wind blew even at this height, howling across the roof, and the little man turned up the lapels of his coat.  He didn’t shiver – at least his extra little layer of fat insulated him from this cold – but he didn’t enjoy the cold.  He moved quickly across the roof, finding his chosen location and getting to work.

The case was set down, the clasps pushed back.  There were fancier models of briefcase out there, ones with clever combination locks built into the handles, but the little man never really saw the need to upgrade.  This case had served him well for years, and he almost felt attached to it.  It was a silly, sentimental feeling, but sometimes these things happen, reason be damned.

The case open, the little man pulled piece after piece from the foam cutouts within, carefully slotting and screwing them together.  Like any craftsman, he savored his work, enjoying how they all fit together just so.  His thin black gloves helped assure his grip, even in the cold.

Finally, his tool was assembled.  The little man took a breath of cold air, hoisted his long instrument up onto the edge of the roof, and put his eye down against its metal body.  Already, it was cold to the touch, cold against his cheek.

The man didn’t hold his contraption in place for long.  It only took a few seconds, only made a single pop as it sent a small bit of copper-jacketed lead flying away very fast.  The little man waited only to see the results of his shot before turning away.

As he began to reverse his process, dismantling the weapon and refilling those holes in his case, the man whistled again. Perhaps, he considered, this was his own tune, one born of nothing and with no discernible pattern.  The thought suited him.

Sometimes, these things happen, reason be damned.

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