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Walter Chandler’s legs pumped like automobile-engine pistons as he dodged the occasional newspaper stand with the owner holding out the late afternoon copy of The Philadelphia Bulletin. This was one of the obstacles Walter faced as he sprinted the length of the 69th Street elevated subway station. He skirted past this obstruction like he did when he won the Championship of America hurdles race at the Penn Relays track and field carnival.
He squinted in the glare of the late-afternoon sun that streamed through the spaces between the iron beams, supporting the platform. Walter dodged groups of people getting on and off regular scheduled El trains coming from Center City, the heart of downtown, Philadelphia.
Walter reached the stairs to the concourse and then the long corridor that led to the platform of the high-speed line that carried commuters to Norristown, a small town on the western side of Philadelphia. Norristown was situated in the direction of the state capitol of Harrisburg.
Walter evaded two old ladies who were not watching what was going on around them. He peered down the passageway, saw the 4:09 train and picked up speed. His thoughts raced faster than his feet. ‘If I don’t hustle, I won’t reach the train. I can’t be late.’
His forearm knocked open one of the swinging doors; he put on a burst of speed that would make Olympian Carl Lewis blush with envy. Walter smiled as he stepped through the train doors and sat down on the black plastic seat. Breathing hard, he closed his eyes for a few moments. He opened them and saw every seat taken except for a few near the front of the car.
He heard the conductor yell through the window,” Pull outta here.” The high-speed line car jerked forward, eased out of the 69th Street terminal and headed to Norristown.
Walter endured the 30-minute commute, knowing that when he stepped off the train, a phase of his life would end. When he got the telephone message, he was suspicious, but he knew he had to go to Norristown or he wouldn’t find any inner-peace.
He got off the train and walked the three blocks to the First Pennsylvania Bank on McArthur Road. Inside the bank, he headed for the
safe deposit boxes. Walter put the letter in the box, closed it, locked it, and smiled at the bank teller who gave him the lock-box key. He walked away from the vault area of the bank toward the front entrance.
Walter had a few minutes before the meeting. When it was over he’d sprint to catch the high-speed line train for the return trip to the 69th Street Market elevated station.
After catching the elevated subway to West Philadelphia, he’d relax for the rest of the day. He might even jog over to Franklin Field, near Spruce Street, in West Philly and get in a few laps around the track he’d made famous, five-years ago, on a warm spring day. He laughed as he pushed the revolving door.
Walter stepped out of the bank door. He stared straight ahead, across the street, to the pawnshop that had the black and orange sign that advertised discount prices on gold, silver and electronic equipment. The lock-box key felt good in the palm of his hands. He didn’t see the Deuce& and a Quarter Oldsmobile.
Walter’s foot touched the pavement. The car bumper sent his body rolling back onto the sidewalk. The force of the car knocked the lock-box
key and it made a jingling noise as it bounced off the sidewalk curb and into the gutter.
His body rested against the steps of the bank.
Walter looked up and then closed his eyes as the late-afternoon sunlight washed his lifeless body.