The sunglasses on the man in the black suit matched the dark tinting of the van he had just exited. He looked to the sky and was reassured at the presence of the helicopter hovering above him. He tapped his sunglasses twice and ducked into a doorway.
Agent Kinney was surprised to find the young man waiting right where he said he would be: at the counter of the rundown deli, spooning kreplach from a large bowl. Apprehending one of the FBI's Most Wanted had never been this easy. It made Agent Kinney nervous.
"Don't worry," said Melmann. "I've got nothing up my sleeve or under my yarmulke."
The agent slipped onto the stool next to Melmann and sized up his captive the way they had taught him in Quantico. He couldn't help chuckling to himself as he removed his sunglasses. So this was the mastermind responsible for bringing the entire world to a screeching halt. Woody Allen could beat this guy in a wrestling match.
"I recommend everything but the matzo brie," said Melmann as he called the waitress over.
"Just coffee, black please." Agent Kinney didn't know what matzo brie was, and he wasn't about to show any sign of weakness.
Melmann sighed. So his last day of freedom would end here, in a Newark deli with an over-caffeinated Joe Friday.
Agent Kinney got right down to business. "Ira Melmann, I'm Federal Agent Kinney. You're under arrest for a number of charges too lengthy to mention."
Melmann knew he was going away for a long time. He also knew prison was a very dangerous place for a guy with less than 6% body fat. He postponed the inevitable by changing the subject. "So would you like to know why I did it?"
"There are a few folks back at the ranch who are a bit interested, yes." Kinney leaned into his subject so the miniature camera in his lapel could better capture the confession. "What was the plan? Bank heist? Blackmail? Insider trading?"
Melmann stirred his soup and smiled.
"Actually, I just wanted to give us all a rest. And I thought 25 hours without internet access would be a great start. So I hacked my way in and unplugged the World Wide Web for a day. And then to my delight, it caused a domino effect that shut down everything else."
This was new information to Agent Kinney. "So you didn't know you'd be causing a worldwide blackoutů?"
"Not at all. Who knew computers had become that powerful?"
Agent Kinney shrugged, hoping the mainframe that was taping them via satellite wouldn't pick up the fact that he was blushing.
"But why did you do it again the following Saturday?"
"One day of rest deserved another. Didn't you notice the calming effect it had all around you?"
Agent Kinney frowned. "Actually there was mass panic and looting all over the globe."
Melmann coughed. "Right. But the next Friday night, things settled down. By the third week, we all got into a groove: No work to do. No phones to answer. No planes to catch. No place any of us had to be, except at home with our families."
Agent Kinney nodded. This was in fact what had happened at his house. With no phone or pager to reach him, he had actually spent the preceding Saturday watching his son learn to crawl.
Melmann turned to his captor. "You have to admit it's been kind of nice. A little less rat race - who knows, maybe a time-out once a week is all it would take to save the planet."
"Maybe," replied Agent Kinney. He knew he was being monitored and didn't want to sound like he was consorting with the enemy. He stood up and produced a pair of handcuffs. Before he could place them on Melmann's outstretched wrists, his earplug rang.
"Kinney here." He stood at attention as he listened at length to the voice on the other end. "Yes, Mr. President. Right away, sir. No, thank you, sir."
Agent Kinney put the handcuffs back in his jacket pocket. "Seems your little scheme is actually having a positive effect. Something about lowered fuel costs and improved economy. You're no longer under arrest and you're invited to the White House for dinner. Are you free this Friday night?"
Melmann smiled and shook his head. "Sorry. I've got a previous commitment."
Mike Indgin is an award-winning copywriter at Suissa Miller Advertising in LosAngeles. His latest hobby is writing soul fiction, which does not pay nearly as well.
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