By Katie Black
By Katie Black
The only conversation we have all day that isn’t about food is this:
Her: Wanna go to The Lake after work?
Her: I don’t have to be home until three.
Seriously. That’s it. Apparently we were dating… or so I was told. The whole situation was awkward all around. I mean, I liked Emma, I really did, but… I don’t know. The relationship felt forced, but also lackadaisical. Like right now, for instance. After working side-by-side for four hours, with our only conversation relating to what John Doe wanted on his sub. We were going to go out to The Lake too, most likely to sit in silence. See what I mean? Not exactly the running-barefoot-through-the-Amazon-with-piranhas-at- your-heels-while-pulling-your-girlfriend-along-by-her-hand-as-she-giggles-adorably kind of date/adventure I had been hoping for.
The toll of the bell above the door dragged me out of my daydream. I looked up only to be blinded by the glint coming off of the man’s head. And chest. And feet. The heck? I glanced over at Emma to see if she had noticed our latest customer. She had.
Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she stared on unashamedly. She opened her mouth ever so slightly and uttered an almost inaudible gasp. Slowly her eyes moved over to focus on me, questioning me on how we should handle this. Offensive or defensive?
I needed to assess the situation. There were two of us and one of him. We cowered behind a counter of condiments — he stood in a suit of silver. Looking down, something caught my eye. In his right hand, the shiny man was gripping… an ax! I froze. The half-hour training seminar we had been put through was very specific about what to do if for some catastrophic reason we ran out of pickles, but not once were we told what to do if a psychotic ax-wielding murderer should happen in upon us. Well, presumed murderer — as if that made a difference.
“You’ve gotta help me!” Somewhere inside the metallic man this frantic, vulnerable voice arose.
Are you freaking kidding me?? He comes into Subway carrying an ax and he wants help?
Finally noticing how we ogled him and our obvious hesitation to help, he spoke again, “Oh, you’re probably really freaked out but I promise you I’m not dangerous. I’m in er, was in, The Wizard of Oz, but my troupe is after me. I need a place to hide!”
Suddenly, he came charging at us and dove over the counter! I grabbed Emma and swung her around the other side of me so that he wouldn’t be between us. I tried to think of something manly or brave to do, but all I could do was stand there in bewilderment like a baby trying to figure out how the words “peek-a-boo” could suddenly make his father reappear. I’m sure I was totally impressing Emma. #Not.
Just then, out of nowhere, a flurry of hay, golden fur, blue checkered cloth, and ruby-red slippers materialized before my eyes.
With an outrageous European accent, the not-so-cowardly lion spoke up. “Ver are you Teen Maan? I could hearr you clinking down the street. You caan’t hide forever!”
I forced myself not to risk a glance down at the “Teen Maan” now curled into an awkward fetal position beside my foot.
“Umm, I’m sorry sir, can we um help you with something?” I tried my best not to let my voice quaver.
“Don’t be coy vith me, young maan! Vee know that you know ver he is!”
“Umm, who?” Something told me that I couldn’t surrender the Tin Man that easily. He must be in some serious juju to have the yellow-brick-road gang coming after him.
Dorothy took a step forward. “Listen here, Chump. I’m gonna give you thirty seconds. In those thirty seconds you can continue denying that you don’t know what we’re talking about or, you can take a five minute break, go out back, and let us handle our own business. You’re choice. Oh, and one more thing — if you go with option one, she’llbe the first to go.” She cast a careless, disapproving sneer in the direction of Emma.
Okay, remember that thing I said earlier about piranhas and adventure? Yeah, well I would so much rather have been in that situation than the one I was in now. I honestly had no clue what to do. You hear all those stories about everyday people who become heroes and they all modestly say, “It’s just what anyone else would’ve done.” But, no! Not everyone is good under pressure. Not everyone knows how to react when a man falls onto the metro tracks or when a gun is pointed at an innocent hostage or when the tables turn and suddenly it’s the Tin Man that the Wizard of Oz wants dead, not the Wicked Witch of the West. I am one of those ignorant, helpless people. I apologize in advance for if we should ever, for whatever reason, end up in a life-threatening situation together. Luckily, I have a smart-ass girlfriend.
“Alright. Listen up, Dorothy. The second you walked your pretty little ruby slippers in the door I pressed the panic button underneath the cucumbers. That had to have been at least three minutes ago. Which means the police should be arriving soon.”
We have a panic button? Okay, so maybe I hadn’t exactly been awake for the whole half-hour training, but I was pretty sure this topic hadn’t been discussed.
Oh. My. God. What if that was just B.S.? Oh, God. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please. please, please, please, please, please, please, please let there be a panic button under the cucumbers.
“Whatever you say, but do you really wanna wait around to find out?” I never realized before how ominously intimidating Emma could be.
The trio from Oz glanced hesitantly at each other. Time seemed to freeze. Emma crossed her arms. “You’re losing time.” It may have been my imagination, but I could’ve sworn that at that exact moment the faint wailing of an emergency vehicle could be heard off in the distance.
Based on the look that suddenly swept over our aggressors’ faces I knew that they had heard it too.
“Ve’ll be baak.”
The second that the three of them had exited I sighed so heavily that it probably caused a tsunami in Japan.
“Emma, you are a freaking genius and I freaking love you. I didn’t even know we had a panic button!”
“That’s because we don’t, Idiot! We aren’t a fricken bank! Now, could you please call the cops while I lock-up?”
I was completely stunned. “But… the siren!”
“Yeah, total coincidence. A fricken lucky coincidence. I don’t know what I would’ve done if they hadn’t believed me. Now, Ash, please call the cops, okay? Can you handle that?”
“You ass! We could’ve died!”
“ASH! CALL THE COPS! Oh, and Tin Man, not sure if you noticed, but they left, you can come out now.”
I got my phone out of my bag in the back room and flipped it open. Yes, I still own a flip-phone. Don’t judge. I dialed the three sacred numbers that were drilled into us as children. The three numbers that if, and only if, we were faced with a dire emergency we were to call. The three numbers that could save you in whatever situation you found yourself in. The three numbers I had never before had to dial.
“9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”