His perfect world fallen apart. At all times, in all situations he attempted to present the best imation of himself. Oh, in the inside he was a mass of quivering jelly, but on the outside, he was steel. Serene, placid steel. Only now he was distracted by the uber-annoying sensation that there was something wrong with his left foot. It didn’t sound right, it didn’t feel right, it lagged behind like a 3 year old who didn’t want to go to bed and was dead weight in its parent’s arms. It. Bugged. The. Hell. Out. Of. Him! It threw off his timing, his cadence – everything. His insides were beginning to show on his outside. Of all his nemesis’s, and there were many, such as acne, hair cowlick’s, socks that didn’t match his pants or shoes. Bubble gum on the sole of his shoes was among the worst. And this was bad. He envisioned a big wad, all 5 sticks, oozing with salvia stuck on the sole of his shoe on this hot august afternoon making it pliable with a tackiness reserved for the best glue and adhesives. Worst of all it took his mind off where he was, where he was going and how he appeared as he was moving through space.

His burgundy lace oxfords were tied in a simple bow at the top of the arch, not toward the outside of the arch, as so many lazy shoe tiers do, but precisely at the top of the shoe, equidistant to either side and exactly at the crown of the tongue of the shoe. He glanced along the length of the busy sidewalk looking for a inviting stoop, step or crack where he could scrap the sole of his left oxford and remove – without touching – the offending wad of bubble gum. There, only 10 steps ahead a crack rose from the pavement and salvation awaited. He positioned himself among the flowing crowd and stopped mid-stride above the crack and pulled back with a satisfying release of the bright red blob onto the sidewalk where it awaited the next unlucky fellow. One more scrape and he would assure himself that the worst was behind him and he could resume his journey displaying the false sense of confidence that had served him so well in the years prior.

Picking up his stride toward his eventual destination he heard a woman behind her exclaim in disgust at what he could only assume was her misfortune upon encountering the evil red blob. His embarrassment at knowing that his good fortune was here misfortune was pushed out of his mind when the cell phone in his blazer pocket buzzed. Deftly retrieving the device he glanced at the screen and slowed to a stop as the words on the screen meant nothing to him. There were accents and umlauts strewn throughout the screen, but they made no sense what so ever. The phone buzzed again, and again for the third time. Variations on a theme in this odd language, but still no sense was to be had by the communiques. Glancing up to insure that he was not about to walk into heavy traffic, the man put the phone back into his pocket and would deal with the off messages at a later time. There was something new in his blazer pocket. Keys. Keys were to be placed in the right trouser pocket, that’s where they belong, not in the left blazer pocket. He pulled the keys out and stared at them. Three keys looked ordinary enough. Door keys, or general lock keys to be sure, but the fourth key was very odd indeed. It was longer than usual keys, hexagon in a misshapen kind of way with many small dimples of varying size and depth along each of the 6 sides of the key. He had never seen anything like this before yet he knew this key was different and had to be very important. But where did it, and the other keys come from? How did they get into his pocket?

He pulled his phone out of his pocket once more and glanced at the latest text message. Du äger mig ett paket tuggummi och nycklarna till mitt kassaskåp. Möt mig i hörnet av huvud och aska i en timme.

It was then when it felt like a cloud moved in front of the sun. All went to shadow. He glanced up and into Mount Rushmore. Chiseled chin. Stone expression. Here was a man whose inside was not jelly but certainly as steely as his outside. The man gulped. From behind him came a woman’s voice. Scandinavian, Norwegian perhaps or Swedish even. “If you would kind Sir, I believe my associate placed something belonging to me in your pocket. This was an error on his part. I assure you he will be…reprimanded. Don’t be alarmed as I retrieve them.” The man could feel someone fumbling in his blazer pocket for a few seconds, and then the keys were gone. “Oh, and if you don’t mind, Jergen will also delete the messages that were sent to you in error.“ Again the man felt someone fumbling in his pocket for a moment followed by the sound of plastic and glass being ripped apart and snapping into a thousand pieces. He dared not turn around to look.

In the next instant Jergen and the woman were gone. He was again alone in a crowd of thousands going about their day. Inside he was less then jelly, sloshing around in his clothes as if balancing on a raft in heavy seas. When he dared, he reached into his blazer pocket. No phone, no mysterious keys, just a 10000 Krona note from the bank of Sweden. Taking a few tentative steps back on his original course he could still feel the remnants of the gum on his left shoe. That would haunt him far longer than his encounter with the Swedes.

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