“Mistaken identity?” I repeated.
“Seems that way,” she observed.
“So some other guy committed a bunch of robberies and everyone thinks I’m him?”
“Seems that way,” The young girl and I walked along the boardwalk. The sun was setting, sending pretty pink hues over the land. The scene was stunning. I would rather be anywhere else. A man also going by the name of Mike just so happened to be a notorious bank robber. At large for more than a year, showing no signs of slowing down, the authorities were desperate. Lacking a last name or even a photo they called out the big guns; placing a hefty bounty on his head a flood of bounty hunters, the girl to my right included, flocked to the city from all over the world. “You look similar to the description and after some asking around I found out your name is Mike,” she continued and shrugged. “So I thought you were him.”
“So what’s your name?” I asked, trying to take my mind off the reality looming over me.
“Shorty.” The girl answered simply. She held my hand, fingers laced. She insisted on the physical contact lest I “be tempted to dump” her. Others walking by probably thought I scored a girl half my age, the lucky bastard.
“Shorty?” I licked my second ice cream cone of the day.
“It’s what my mom calls me.” She smiled brightly at the mention.
“Did that start before or after you learned to punch like a street fighter?” I could feel my jaw move in a way it never had before. I was certain something was not where it should be.
“Oh, she doesn’t know I do this for a living. She thinks I work at a fruit stand.”
“Both sound ridiculous.” I couldn’t see it. The girl, Shorty, looked like she weighed all of a single pound and spent too much time at comic conventions. True, she’d gotten the upper hand on me twice, but she had the element of surprise preceding both.
“How’d you get all those cuts?” She asked absentmindedly, working away at her own cone. “I only hit you a couple times, yet you look like you’ve been mugged by a gang. Better not hit you again or they won’t take you.”
“Who won’t take me?”
“You’re pretty slow too. No matter,” throwing the remainder of her ice-cream over her shoulder ( I felt slighted at the waste) she reached towards the handcuffs still dangling from my wrist.
I pulled back, hands outstretched. “Please,” I begged a kid half my age for the second time in less than an hour. “I still don’t get it. Who are you?”
“I told you, I’m Shorty the Bounty Hunter.”
“But I’m not the guy. Mistaken identity, remember?” She advancing – I retreating, trying to bide time to think of an escape. Maybe I could bribe her with more ice cream?
“For the record, I believe you.” She said. “I believe you when you say you’re the wrong Mike. I believe you when you say you haven’t done anything wrong. But there’s a wanted poster hanging front and center in the downtown police station that’s got your face written all over it. Money is money and I got a cat needs feeding. Sorry pal…”