Bob’s alarm jerked him out of a bad dream. When he opened his eyes, he was saved from a grand piano falling on him from above.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, a smile passed briefly over his perspiring face. A piano falling on you, he thought, just like in a cartoon.
When he sat with his wife, Alice, for breakfast, he told her about his dream.
“Bob,” said Alice, “in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve come to realize that you’re neither a glass half empty nor a glass half full person.” She sipped her coffee. “Bob, you’re an empty glass guy all the way. I truly hope this dream won’t plague you all day long. I mean come on, as you say yourself, it’s like something out of the comics or a cartoon. There is no way on earth that you will be crushed by a grand piano dropping on you from out of the blue.”
Bob nodded. But he was an empty-glasser, and the idea that this dream was somehow premonitory sat there in the back of his brain somewhere. He dressed for work and double-checked that his revolver was loaded and the safety was on.
They wouldn’t let them carry semi-automatics. So Bob had to content himself with his Smith and Wesson pistol. Six shots. An empty-glass man, he always pictured himself coming up against newer firepower. With only six shots, he’d never stand a chance against anything more modern. But he was a good shot, could group six in the center with ease, so there was some solace in that.
Bob’s job involved him wearing a uniform and a gun. What he did was collect money from various businesses in downtown Honolulu and take them to designated financial institutions for deposit. Places like Starbucks and Jamba Juice, FedEx and UPS, and many others no longer depended on their employees to make the daily deposits. Crime always grew, and there was no use putting employees’ lives at risk. Bob worked for a company that solved this problem. It was his life on the line if anyone wanted to steal a business’s daily receipts.
Now there are many tall buildings in downtown Honolulu, and given his abysmal pessimism – never mind the slightly humorous absurdity of the dream – all morning as he did his pick-ups and drop-offs, Bob had this cold, sick feeling deep down inside. It was the kind of feeling you get when you know something might happen that will kill you. Obviously, you don’t want it to, but you understand that there may be little chance you can stop it. You know it’s all in the cards that Fate holds in its clammy hands.
It was lunchtime, and as he always did, Bob made all the deposits he had to up to that moment, then walked over to the 7-Eleven on Bishop Street to buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee.
Just as he stepped out of the store and onto the sidewalk, he heard a man shout, “Watch out!”
Bob looked in the direction of the voice, not sure since the street teemed with pedestrians, to whom the warning had been made.
He looked at the man. The man was looking at him and pointing up. “Watch out!” he shouted again at Bob.
As fate would have it, an estate planner was moving offices from the Aston Executive Center to the Hawai‘i Pacific Building, and a big crane, a huge safe dangling by a chain from it above Bishop Street, halted abruptly. So abruptly, in fact, that the chain snapped, allowing the safe to fall to the street below.
One witness pointed out, with apologies, that it was like a scene from a cartoon or a comic book. The idea of being hit by a falling safe was so preposterous that you would only imagine seeing it portrayed in some kind of humorous context.
“Good grief,” she said, “you’d think the safe was manufactured by the Acme Company.”
Several witnesses claimed that they saw Bob drop his coffee and sandwich and draw his Smith and Wesson, but before he could shoot at the safe, it had squashed him like a bug.
No, this was definitely not a humorous situation. This was not a comic book or a cartoon. This was real life, and there was no humor whatsoever in Bob’s tragic demise.