City of Rumors (Part Three)

The city went on as if the meeting from a few days ago never happened. Children were running around having fun with each other, businessmen conducted meetings with major high-end clients in order to score a deal, and the elderly continued their swinger parties and swaps. The city was more or less its old usual self. Except for the neighborhood around the man’s house.

People no longer crossed the street to pass by in fear of being yelled at. Children played in the road, including in front of the curb to the house, just enjoying themselves as they played kick ball. People walked their dogs up and down the street without a care. At first, the man would kick and shout and scream at people for even coming close to his home. But as the days rolled on, he too stopped caring what occurred in front. He did, however, keep that nasty attitude when he went around the city for work, errands, and pleasure.

And nobody seemed to give a damn. Everybody had smiles on their face, even when the man cursed them out to hell and back. On one occasion, there was a time when a pregnant woman was being bombarded with slurs, all of this happening with the police parked just up the street. They too seemed to not give a damn. As for the woman, she apologized for whatever minor inconvenience the man found, and continued on with her day. All of this with a smile on her face.

Or that’s how the rumors went.

There was one night when I was sitting on the front porch of the house, just lazily swinging in our little rocker near the railing, when I saw something odd happening across the street.

All of the streetlamps were on overhead, shining down its bright yellow light every couple of steps, illuminating anything that went under them. The night sky was clear as could be, stars decorating the dark blue space above. The moon rested motionless and bright, possible to seen from anywhere. The entire neighborhood was sound asleep, curtains pulled close to hide the private lives inside the homes. No dogs barked for unknown reasons, raccoons didn’t scavenge into trash cans, and crows weren’t cawing for attention. Everything was calm and quiet. And perfect.

I watched up and down the streets, not looking for anything in particular, just wanting to look up and down the road. I turned one way and saw nothing. I turned around to look in the other direction and froze when I saw the man walking under the streetlamp. He wasn’t alone.

He stumbled back and forth, his front shirt unbuttoned down to the bottom, his chest on display for the world to see. His head loosely moved around, rocking side to side and back to front as if he was trying to balance it on his body. His legs could barely keep him up, sometimes buckling down after every couple of steps. Thankfully there was a woman dressed in a black cocktail dress. Her hair was well-kept and perfectly trimmed, reaching down her back. Even with the weight of having to carry the man around her shoulders, she was able to walk down the street in black heels without any issue—she had a better balance than the man did.

“I wonder who she is?” I mumbled to myself, watching the pair with interest.

The woman supported the man down the street and up the walkway of his home. At the door, the man struggled to reach into his jacket pocket, most likely trying to take out the keys. After a few moments of searching, he suddenly collapsed face-first onto the pavement. The woman didn’t react—she didn’t cry out for help, she didn’t try to check to see if he was okay, nothing. All she did was watch him, waiting to see if he would get up on his own. After a minute passed, she leaned down and retrieved the keys out of his jacket pocket, unlocking the front door. Instead of trying to get the man back onto his feet, she grabbed him by his ankles, turned him around, and began to drag him inside. She looked up and looked in my direction, easily noticing me watching on the front porch.

The entire neighborhood was silent. From across the street, the woman spoke in a casual tone, “You know the rule, right?”

I shook my head and replied, “I didn’t see a thing.”

The woman nodded and continued to pull the man home, the door slamming shut behind the both of them.

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Copyright © 2020 by Luka Tatsujo

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