Skype by laptop light.
It was an old black and white photo, and Nathan had found it tucked into the pages of a book he bought at a garage sale. The book was on ‘marine life’ and printed in the 70’s. His intention was to cut out the center of the pages and keep his weed and spare keys in there. On a shelf in plain sight, but safe. Not a new idea by any stretch, but a good one. He found the photo when he sat down with his blade and readied to cut. He was good and stoned and could still taste the frosted cereal he had downed to keep the munchies at bay while he worked. His apartment was filled with pot smoke and the sunlight hit it in beautiful ways. Shafts of light and movement as he played music and let his bare feet enjoy the soft floor rug. But the photo stopped him. Arousing. Frightening. Sickening. Enticing. The legs of adults and a child. Naked legs. Nathan could not tell if they were bodies snuggling, or if this was a dark and sexual picture of someone small being hurt. He could not reconcile his feelings, particularly because after some examination, he could not tell if the legs belonged to living people. It suddenly occurred to him that this photo was of bodies that were piled in death and photographed by the killer as if he were a tourist and they were a souvenier. Nathan sat back on the couch and realized his hands were shaking. He thought about the man and woman who had the garage sale. He remembered the man just sitting in a plastic chair while the woman made the deals. Nathan realized he was as unsettled as he was aroused, and that he hoped he was not alone in this. He hoped he was not the only young man who confused fear with arousal, excitement for anxiety. Nathan stared at the book and the blade and the photo and tried to forgive himself. #nightwalk
Jack had the flu. His divorce was finally official. He had avoided much of the ugliness that can come from such an event. His ex-wife just wanted his ‘things’. His money. Jack considered fighting hard against her which is what his lawyer wanted. But Jack just wanted to be done with it. Now he had the flu in his new apartment. A big flu in a small space that smelled of fresh latex paint and windex. Jack’s tv sat on the floor beside his air mattress and his fever began to rise. It was late at night, he didn’t know exactly when, but a.moment from years ago came to him clear as day. Lina Mitchell was 14 and Jack was just six days older than she was. They had gone up to Jack’s roof on a summer night when no parents were home. Lilly told Jack she thought he was nice. She knew he didn’t like heights, but she hoped he liked her. Lilly removed her t-shirt and stood on the roof, half in, half out of the streetlight. Jack forgot about the height of the roof and told Lilly he liked her too. The two of them spent hours up there, talking and touching. Jack would have married her. She had stayed in his heart all these years. Now she was in his apartment, colored by fever. Jack wanted to go back in time and find her. Or go to Heaven and find her. He was too sick to move, and he had so little now. Jack stared at the ghost and wondered if she had thought of him as her plane crashed. If he had been in her mind as something she would miss. Jack wanted to be 14 on his roof again. Jack wanted to make sure Lilly knew he liked her. #nightwalk
Sarah had first noticed her son’s ‘behavior’ when he was just two weeks old. Now, at 4 months, she had grown obsessed with it and had not had a good night’s sleep or a good meal in weeks. Sarah stood just a few feet from her son’s crib as he slept. The room smelled clean and of the soft scent of baby skin. Smiling animals in bright colors covered the walls and the sun came in through the windows and changed the color of the panda rug in lines and spots. It was nap time, and Sarah stood and waited for it to start. His tiny arms raised and began to.move as if separate from his uncoordinated body. His fingers gained confidence of movement and he began to, ‘sign’. Sarah’s best friend in 3rd grade had been the daughter of a deaf woman. She had learned to sign a bit. Now she was learning more. She recorded video on her phone and watched her infant child speak to the air above his sleeping body. His eyes were closed but as his hands moved he would twitch his lips and breathe a bit differently. From what Sarah could tell, her small boy was speaking to everyone. To anyone who might hear…or see. She did not know if this was a miracle or a warning. She knew only that each time her baby slept, his hands and arms spoke of how ‘all of us are one’. He would sign, ‘we are all from the same place, we are parts of one thing…’ and then he would repeat, ‘Don’t forget. Stop seeing ‘others’ and see ‘thy self’. Sarah watched her tiny boy say big things. His small hands begging the air to listen. ‘there is no enemy, there is only us’. Sarah cried softly and wondered if all.children did this. If all mothers knew. If anyone ever let go of fear, or if her son would grow into it. Sarah touched her cheek and wished she knew what to believe. #nightwalk
Mabel stood in front of the female officer and raised her arms. Her naked body was streaked with mud and scraped in wide sections, raw. The camera flashed. Several times. Mabel closed her eyes, embarrassed. Enraged. She could hear Doug screaming inside the back of the police cruiser. He slammed his head against the window. Several male officers looked in at him with their flashlights and warned him. He would be hog-tied if he continued. It would not be pleasant. Mabel heard one officer tell Doug, ‘they’re gonna tear you in half at the ass in prison, Dougie’. Mabel began to cry. The female officer lowered her camera and apologized for not being able to hold her. She could not embrace her as she was covered in, ‘evidence’. C.S.I. were en route. She could only offer a blanket. Mabel thanked the Officer. Her blonde hair was cut short and her name tag read: Connor. She smelled like leather. Mabel wondered if her holster was new, or her belt. Or maybe her car. Officer Connor helped Mabel cover up and sit down on the curb. Mabel tried to stop crying. She bit her lip in an effort not to smile. The sound of Doug screaming muffled by the police car windows reminded her of being 16 again. When a favorite song came on the radio. The volume would go up and the car windows down, and Mabel would sing along at the top of her lungs. It might have been the wind, or maybe it was the beating of Angel wings, but in that moment, Mabel knew life was good. She knew the words. The gas tank was full. She was driving. Now…on the curb, Doug yelled and slammed his head, and Mabel sang along…inside. She knew the words. She knew life was going to be good. Mabel knew it would still be hours before she could be alone and put herself to bed, but she was comforted by the thought. She would sleep in the center of the bed, and she would stay there for days. #nightwalk