Ed had been keeping a loose eye on the young black man outside his store for nearly an hour.
The man was maybe in his mid-20s and was dressed casually: tattered blue jeans, a dark purple shirt, and an old jean jacket. He was standing near the public bench on the sidewalk as though he were waiting for someone. And while he waited, he was giving a quietly impressive display of his abilities with a yo-yo.
He checked his space before doing an Around the World, making sure he wouldn’t hit anyone or anything. He Walked the Dog in a little circle around himself, and even walked it around a bored collie tied up at the other end of the bench. Then a Pinwheel and a Skin the Cat.
The guy was good. Ed had played around with a yo-yo when he was a kid, like so many kids; like so many adults, he had given it up as an adult. Watching the guy outside the store, Ed wistfully thought about getting a yo-yo again.
Ed wouldn’t have thought anything about the man except there had been a rash of purse-snatchings recently. He realized, though, that the yo-yo impresario was performing his tricks in the full light of day. Lots of people had seen his face, and he’d chatted with a few passers-by. He wasn’t going to suddenly pull a pair of pantyhose over his head and hope for anonymity. Ed’s only concern now was that the string didn’t break and send the yo-yo into a window or someone’s head.
In the middle of a Rock the Cradle, the yo-yo spinning in the triangle created by holding the string, the man suddenly stiffened. He released the string and jerked the yo-yo back up and into his right palm. His empty hand dug into the right side of his jacket and came out with a large handgun. He was already moving up the street and was almost instantly out of sight. Ed heard a scream.
He knew he shouldn’t, but he ran out the front door of his shop to look. Not fifteen feet away, a man lay face down on the ground, still clutching a purse; a ragged pair of pantyhose covered his face. A frightened woman leaned against a neighboring shop.
“You have the right to remain silent,” the yo-yo artist was saying to his prisoner.
He’s a cop! Ed thought. And look at that!
The officer still had the string around his right middle finger and the yo-yo in his palm. The pistol keeping the purse-snatcher put was in the cop’s left hand, which Ed knew had to be his dominant hand.