as she had promised, lucinda stayed behind after samantha’s presentation on the subject of crime was over.
samantha found the empty classroom a bit depressing, and suggested that they go somewhere else to continue their discussion.
lucinda readily agreed, and they went to a popeye’s fried chicken a few blocks away.
samantha realized that socializing in this way with the young people who were compelled to attend the police presentations was frowned on, but because of her social connections she did not worry overmuch about it.
a light snow was falling outside as they made their way to the popeye’s, and the streets seemed deserted.
none of the other young people who had sat through samantha’s presentation were in evidence.
samantha was not accustomed to places like popeye’s and was a little relieved to find it almost empty.
the only other customer was a derelict almost invisible in a heavy old overcoat, and after ordering , samantha and lucinda sat on the other side of the room from him.
seated with lucinda in the almost empty restaurant, samantha was a little taken aback at just how small, young, and serious she looked - more so than she had appeared at the meeting surrounded by other young women and men.
“well,” said samantha, after they were settled in their seats by the window, “what was it that we were discussing?”
“we were going to continue the discussion about income,” lucinda replied, with her serious look.
“yes, of course,” samantha smiled.
“but more generally, we were talking about crime and how it doesn’t pay.”
“indeed we were,” samantha replied encouragingly.
“i have a theory,” lucinda announced.
“oh?” samantha glanced out the window at the snow, which was falling a little more steadily. she felt strangely peaceful, sitting talking to this curious little person. “and what is your theory?’
“i think there is going to be a big crime wave. i know everybody thinks crime is over, but i think there is going to be a big crime wave.”
“and what makes you think that?” with the little plastic spoon, samantha stirred the styrofoam cup of coffee, which she had not yet found the nerve to taste.
“because the system needs it.”
samantha did not reply right away, and lucinda continued. “the system - the whole huge system of police surveillance - needs to justify its existence, so they are going to start a crime wave to do it. i don’t know the details, but that is what they are going to do.”
samantha thought that was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard, but did not want to laugh in the girl’s face. she smiled, and finally took a sip of the coffee. “that certainly is an ingenious theory.”
“it’s in the air,” said lucinda. “you heard it here first. you just wait and see.”
samantha tried to think of something to say in reply. she glanced around.
the derelict who had been seated on the other side of the restaurant was gone. outside, the snow continued to fall.