Midnight Stroll

Posted: July 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

There was something about that night that made his feet wander farther from home; perhaps the winds had shifted and delivered a scent of curiosity across the valley, perhaps wanderlust was kicking into high drive through his veins and out his workboots. The empty streets and the “closed” signs lining the shop windows made the town a wholly different world from the tourist trap it was in the sunlit hours.
His clothes were dark and easy to move in, making him feel invisible and shady on the dark sidewalks. Just out of sight of a streetlamp’s watchful eye he stashed his bike, tires worn thin from the daily traversal he made for his handful of dimes. Careful to skirt the edges of the light and trot out into the street, he cast his gaze around, looking for a place to play.
A back alley leading behind a Thai restaurant caught his eye, for he had never looked beyond his avenue of perspective beyond its glazed veneer of shops and milling crowds. He moved towards it, gliding past the restaurant without much care for it, instead heading towards the dark center of the alley where a strip of glinting metal running up the side of a large, warehouse-looking type of building caught his eye.
A sizable amount of broken-down cardboard boxes, damp and gray with age, lay cast askew at the side of the warehouse, framing a second alley pinched between the parking lot of an adjacent thrift store and the edifice rising above. He moved toward the alley, pushing the rusted chainlink gate aside to step into the darkness. His foot connected with something, which bounced against the wall with a sloshing thump. Startled, he stopped, drawing his phone from his pocket. By the light of the screen, he examined the sports drink he had kicked into the wall; red liquid pumped out of it, staining the pavement black. He moved past it.
The glint that had caught his eye was a ladder secured to the side of the building by wires, cords and the wrapping vines of a kudzu plant spreading across the side of the building. He wrapped his fingers around its base and shook it slightly; it seemed steady. His feet hooked onto the steps easily, and as he ascended the metal structure his gaze was drawn to the sheer silence generated by the deserted road; he was well and truly alone.
He lifted himself onto the roof of the building with ease, casting a wary eye across the landscape of rotating fans and skylights. The bright moonlight illuminated the night sky, revealing his surroundings. It was an area in constant and varying states of repair; he had to watch his step and take care to avoid the various tools and materials scattered all around. A large air conditioning unit was the primary feature, big enough to obscure a third of what he could see.
Suspended under a pipe connecting the unit to the roof was a large, dangerous-looking black widow. It scurried away upon perception of the vibrations emanating from the footsteps, but he caught sight of it just before it vanished from sight. He shined the light from his phone under the unit, seeking the sight of the engorged body but finding nothing.
He stood and blinked. Sitting on top of the air conditioning unit was a plastic cup with something inside it. It looked like a spent lime squeezed of its juices from a distance, a cup taken from a bar and enjoyed in a less conventional location, but as he got closer he realized with confusion that there was a small amount of change, nickels and dimes and quarters, crowding the bottom. Frowning, he peered around the edge of the unit.
What looked like a piece of a blue duffel bag poked out into his sight, slowly rising and falling in rhythm to something he could not see. Squinting, he came closer to it, leaning in to look what the bag might contain.
Staring back at him were the letters C and A; around the A was a small halo. The logo embossed an ancient, greasy-looking baseball cap that sat above what was now clear to be a sleeping bag with a man inside of it. A snuffling and a cough announced the man’s return to consciousness, and he turned bloodshot eyes to his intruder.
“Get out of my house,” he croaked.

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