I had been following him for weeks, following the same routine day after day, week after week. There had been a spate of robberies from museums and art galleries; he fit the profile and was the closest lead I had.
09:30 the old man sat at his usual table at Mary’s Diner, had black coffee and scrambled eggs on whole wheat toast, read a newspaper. 10:15 went to the library, bought a hot dog for lunch at 14:30, fed birds in the park till 16:30. 17:00 went to his apartment, watched TV. 23:00 turned TV off. Weekends were the same, except instead of the library he’d visit museums and art galleries. He barely spoke to anybody.
Then one day everything changed.
I followed him to an art gallery; there was a special exhibition – the staff of Rasputin, the mad monk. I lost the old man in the crowds; the alarms went off and I knew he’d taken the staff.
I ran out of the fire exit door he’d left ajar and chased him up a fire escape, thinking I’d arrest the old fool on the roof. When I got to the top I found him waiting there, staff in hand, smiling. He mumbled some words, waved the staff in a deasil fashion, turned and jumped off before I could grab him.
I saw him fall into what looked like a huge mirror which covered the ground between the surrounding four buildings, into the blue sky and clouds reflected there…and vanish.