They were there almost every time Dr. Rajab Sizdah drove by: an overweight couple, shabbily dressed, behind the wheel of an old van parked on the corner of 13th Street and Cambridge Drive. Dr. Sizdah, in his immaculate Mercedes, couldn’t help but wrinkle his nose at the piles of used tissues and fast food wrappers accumulated on their dash.
The fact that the pair was parked in a narrow street just before the entrance to the doctor’s gated community was another annoyance. Sizdah would have to inch by them every time, and if there was another car coming he’d have to stop, often in mid-turn, to let them by. He’d stare daggers at every inch of the filthy old Fiat Tredici van when that happened, from the peeling roof paint to the THR 1313 license plate, even as the pockmarked occupants looked past him as if they were staking out the veterinarian across the street.
When he complained about it to his receptionist at the ophthalmology clinic, or the doorman at the community gate, Dr. Sizdah would always become irate when his listener fixated on the unluckiness of a car with a 13 license plate parked on 13th Street. Sizdah didn’t have the patience for such superstitious nonsense; his family had left Persia in 1980 to escape that sort of ignorance. But on the few times he’d been irritated enough to report the slovenly Tredici for illegal parking, the police could never locate it.
On the second Sunday in January, Dr. Sizdah was returning late from an emergency surgery when, much to his annoyance, the van and its unsavory occupants were in their usual position. The doctor idly reflected that they must have a serious grudge against the veterinarian before he began his turn; too late he noticed that there was a Lincoln coming the other way, forcing him to once again stop halfway out of his lane and glare at the obstructive Fiat while the other car lazily glided by.
Dr. Sizdah didn’t see the black Silverado coming around the bend ahead of him, and it’s safe to say that the Silverado didn’t see him.
After the collision, when the doctor was lying bloodied on the pavement surrounded by broken glass, he was surprised to see the ugly, fat man and woman leaning their greasy heads over him instead of the hoped-for paramedics.
“We’ve been waiting for you for a long time,” the man said.
“A very long time,” added the woman. They took Dr. Sizdah by the shoulders and began to drag him away.
The good doctor was never seen again.
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