As the machine was counting the bills, he looked around. Surprised. A city that busy that late, yet there was no one on the sidewalk -- no one as far as he could see to his right or left all the way to the adjacent intersections. He heard the sound of bills rolling out. Suddenly, someone pushed him from behind. His head hit the blind and he fell to the ground. The assailant grabbed the money and ran. Mehran touched his forehead. He felt a bruise under his fingers. It wasn't deep. He picked himself up and ran after the thief: "Someone catch him…. Thief!" The thief, though, was much faster. Mehran was hamstrung in his professional suit.
Morteza sat in a dark alley behind one of the many garbage cans of this city, catching his breath. He was nearing thirty. He was dressed in the color of the night. Five minutes passed. When he made sure that no one was following him, he opened his fist and started counting the crumpled bills. It was enough for what he wanted to do. He took the alley to another street. After 15 minutes of walking, he found his motorbike. He had hidden a bag nearby. He pulled out a new shirt and changed. He started the bike and the piercing sound of its exhaust filled the street.
Enervated, with one hand on his forehead, Mehran approached his car. There was no one on the sidewalk to tolerate his curses and distraught appearance. He got into his car, pulled a paper tissue and covered his bruise. It was only a scratch.
He sped through the streets. He had always been a cautious driver but tonight's episode had had its effects. His mobile phone rang. It was his wife. He started grumbling and as much as he didn't want to talk, his wife forced him to tell her what had happened in detail.
It had been couple of days since Saeed had come to Tehran. He was staying with a friend. He had come out of the house that night and was strolling. He wasn't familiar with the area, so a short stroll turned into a much longer one and he spend some time finding his way. He was distracted by shop windows and of course the heavy traffic on the streets. He had just turned into an alley when the accident happened. A speeding car didn't see him at first. When Saeed was in the middle of the road, waiting for the angel of death to descend, the driven pulled on his breaks. He hit Saeed softly, who was nevertheless traumatized by the misadventure. He fell to the ground. The driver got out of his car immediately and pulled him into the car with difficulty.
"Luckily, it's nothing, just a shock. You are fortunate. Do be careful!"
When he heard these words, Mehran felt better, though he was still cursing the thief. He sat on a chair and stared in a direction.
Holding the IV in one hand and stretched on the bed, Saeed was talking to his host.
When the doctor released Mehran, he paid a visit to Saeed before leaving the hospital quickly. His mobile went off again and it was again his wife. This time, he mumbled something and pushed the red button.
Couple of floors down from Saeed's room, Morteza went to the room that his wife was staying, having given birth to their first child. "Let me see my cute little daughter," he said. He took the infant from her mother, held her in his arms and looked into her eyes. He then looked at his wife. They could go home now, he said. He was going to pay the bill.
- Where did you get the money?
- I had it saved.
He looked at his child again and talked to her. He gave the child back to the mother and left the room to pay the bill.
Mehran was still angry when he got into his car, "How can some people take unearned money to their family?" He could never imagine that his money had paid for the delivery of a child.
After fully exhausting the IV, Saeed left the hospital with his friend. A young man was playing setar on the sidewalk. The strange thing was that no one was on the sidewalk. It was as if the setar player was playing for no one. Saeed and his friend looked at him as they passed.
- This Tehran of your did no good to us.
- Well, you know, in this city not the streets but the sidewalks sleep early at nights.