Challenge Prompt: Now You See Me
Perhaps I had failed in some way. The world, you know?
I like to casually observe people. You might think that creepy in some artificial way but when you really get down to it, it’s a national past time. Isn’t it. My favorite places are by the windows so I have a panoramic of different circumstances, situations: people dining casually on cakes and sweets sipping on fairly hot coffees and those pairs and lonesome beings strolling, sauntering, and shuffling down the street. Tell me it’s not interesting to watch the pacing between people as they proceed down their different tracks of life. However, the people that interest me the most are those that seem least concerned by their actions or really anything currently going on around them. It is those people who catch my wandering eyes, the ones that are trapped elsewhere.
Perhaps it is because I have failed as well. I’m stuck daydreaming about the lives of other people…
I see him across the street: hands deep in his pockets, his shoulders slightly slumped but the most telling sign of a good prey item – the smear of the lost in his eyes. He silently walks down the sidewalk. Maybe he had just witnessed some sort of trigger? What was his trigger?
I dip my pinky in my coffee. Then consume the rest.
There was an alley several feet in front of him.
Sometimes I feel strange noting the change in perspective. But nevermind. Here he comes, unawares. Listless.
I give him five seconds to walk past. Then follow. I’m in no particular hurry. He has my attention. There are more things I can see. I can see the crooked tilt of his shoulders and perhaps they interest me more than is possible. Why are they held in such an awkward manner? Or perhaps it is just a physical flaw? I notice the strangest little grey hairs blooming in his thick mass of charcoal hair. Stress or just the natural loss of pigmentation in dark-haired persons. Let’s go with stress – it’s more fun that way. Stress about work? Stress about relationships? Maybe he is married? But his fingers are so deep in his pockets I couldn’t catch a single glint of silver, gold or this new fad of tungsten I had heard just a little about from the couple window shopping at the jewelry store we just passed. This street seems oddly timeless now that I think of it.
We were about to hit “Lover’s Row” as I preferred to call it. An abundance of random little cafes, shops, restaurants and kiosks littered the street. Therefore a lot of couples liked to come here. There was always something to see or do. So why was my little lonesome wolf traveling into such a territory alone? I had my perfectly reasonable reasons. Maybe he was solemnly going to meet a girlfriend, boyfriend. Were the words, “We need to talk” used in any way? Thinking more and more about it excited me.
Tender aromas from the nearby cafe suddenly became enticing.
What is his name? I hope I found out soon. I wasn’t particularly interested in naming him – terrible names are born from my mind. “Tracy.” He spoke. What a harmonious melancholic tone! I’ve never heard such a rich voice from my catch. But who is this Tracy person? A long lost lover? A tragically separated sister who is being abused by a worthless piece of trash now here to ask for his help in breaking up with him and making sure things don’t get too out of hand? The possibilities… Oh! He looked this way. Tragic eyes, he had. I didn’t let it bother me so much until I heard some worth removing my presence. Tracy. I didn’t bother myself with that uninteresting person. Her relevance was only in her connection and the ability to eek out a more complete picture of unnamed sir.
“That person… He’s odd looking.” My. What a blunt statement. “Do you know him? He’s staring so intensely at you…” I sighed and waited for the obnoxious couple in front of me to pass and then I took my leave. To the roof of a kiosk nearby. I could spy on them and this was an unattractive cart as far as things went.
“I was so nervous to come!” she said.
“I was worried about how you would have reacted. I’m still unsure. But…! I think this is the best decision.”
“What did you want to talk about?”
“I… I… wanted to apologize. About… Well you know what about!” Coward. Tell me what about! “I just don’t see how I could be in a relationship with you anymore if… if I have fallen in love with someone else. So. I’m ending it.” Silence from him. What a stupid reason to end a relationship. Just because you fell in love with someone else. Does that automatically dismiss the love you had for him? “Please, say something.”
“I have nothing to say other than I’ll send you the paperwork. Have a good life.” Isn’t he going to fight? it seems they are married. Or bonded in some way. Wouldn’t you fight to keep that alive? Perhaps they have been drifting apart. For a while. What caused it? Do people just drift apart? I dislike this.
People are loud. The chatter is ill contrived and I have not the head to be paying much attention these minutes are mine and my own. My drink tastes bitter. Hot chocolate should never taste bitter. Sighing I wonder back to my earlier adventure. Many hours have passed since then and I somehow found myself in a diner. At this hour I can only find drunks. All around me. Everywhere. Drunks and whores, according to an endearing movie. The hour is approximately 1:00 in the morning. My eggs have run cold and my toast has become soggy from excessive jam.
And then my adventure from earlier walks in. He’s had a bit too much and he’s grasping his head. Perhaps he has drunk much more than I thought. He barely notices anyone or anything. It feels as if not much has changed from this early afternoon. Strangely, as if by a hand of fate, he plops down in my booth, unawares. He’s sits there, motionless with pale breaths, until after a long five minutes he begins to let all the information sink in. Yes, it is awfully bright in here for a place that thrives off the impaired. Yes, you are not alone. That seems to take more time to let sink in. “I saw you earlier. You were following me.” Mm. Perhaps he was more aware than I thought. Perhaps I was just a bit too careless.
“You intrigued me.” He laughed.
“You didn’t deny it? You’re a strange fellow.”
“My name is Ishmael. I suppose I do have peculiar hobbies.” Even though his face was just a little cherry from the alcohol, they were nice and attractive. So it most likely wasn’t a physical thing, right? Why did she leave? They had a falling out. But he just let it go.
“Weird name.” Thanks… “My name is Gabriel.” I smiled.
“Your name isn’t so bad.” He laid back in the booth and I pushed a warm cup of coffee towards him. “People seem to think this helps those who are ailed by over consumption of alcohol. Try some, it might help.” Then, after pulling out the ice, I passed him a cup of water. “Hydrate yourself as well. It helps to mitigate the hangover.” We didn’t speak after that. We sat there and I enjoyed more elaborate visions about Gabriel’s life. Good thing he happened to pass his name over – I was about to call him Roger.
“I wish I could disappear from my life right now. Some place where no one knows my name.”
I stood, reached over the table and took his hand in mine. “Wish granted: close your eyes.”