Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Drifter

It all started with a knocking at the door.

It was late, and I had been asleep. I closed my eyes, figuring it was just a dream, but then I heard another knock. This time much louder than before.

I got out of bed and purposely turned on no lights, as if it was something weird I would not answer the door, but just wait for the person to leave.

I moved towards the door and peered into the eye hole.

It was a man about six foot, dressed in denim, and had his hair pulled back in a pony tail.

I waited for him to leave.

Then there was another knock. I slowly moved to my closet and pulled out a bat and returned to the door.

I peered out the peek hole once again and he was still standing there, but now he was smoking a cigarette. This led me to believe he would not be leaving any time soon.

I opened the door with the bat behind it so he couldn’t see my suspicion.

“Can I help you?”

“Sure, friend. You see I’m lost. I’m looking for a town around here.” He smelled like oranges.

“What town?”

“I don’t know.” He smiled at me and I could see that he was missing most of his teeth.

“Look, it’s late and I was sleeping. What do you want?”

“I told you, I’m looking for a town.” He looked around and grinned as if there were other people listening.

“OK. I’m calling the cops.”

I closed the door on him and then waited a few seconds and peered back through. He was waving at me and smiling.

I thought about calling the cops, but the man had done nothing wrong yet. Not until I explicitly told him to leave. And, after all, it was an apartment complex – I didn’t own it.

I opened the door again. “Look, what town are you looking for? If you don’t know, I can’t help you.”

“But you do know. You’re standing in it.”


“No. That’s the city. You’re in the town in the city, friend.” He grinned at me again. Then he turned around and looked into the woods. “Man, they say there’re lions out here.”

“Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no lions anywhere.”

“No lions!” He grinned again and then shook his head. “You’re the mayor of this town and you don’t know there’s lions about?”

There was no winning. I had to call the cops. I closed the door and dialed 911. When I looked out the peek hole to describe the man to the operator he was gone. I mentioned this and then they explained that there was nothing they could really do.

I didn’t sleep the rest of the night.

The following evening I didn’t sleep, but he didn’t come back.

The next evening, I opened the door to get the mail and he was standing outside admiring the small creek in front of my apartment.

“You said there’s no lions back here?”

“Fuck off.” I walked to the mailbox and it slowly dawned on me that I wouldn’t sleep for the entire week.

“That’s no way to talk, man.” His voice had changed into something close to a growl.

“Just fuck off.” I kept walking and when I turned he was gone and a lion was in his place.

“Jesus fuck!” I yelled. "Jesus fuck!"

The lion approached me and I stood frozen to the ground. I could no longer speak.

“Fucking A, man. Tell me where the town is!” It was him, but his voice was coming from somewhere else. The lion paused and turned to a tree and began licking it.

The tree began moving and a branch moved toward the lion and it was as if the tree was stroking it.

I looked at the tree and all at once it was the man. “You know where the town is. Just tell me, dude.”

“What town!” I screamed and then cringed as I realized I could be disturbing the lion.

“Downtown, brother! Downtown!” And as he said it, the lion and the man began to fade into black shadows and the shadow became a tall figure. Almost like a monolith, about eight feet tall and where their eyes had been, small globes appeared and joined to create a small orb to the left of the figure’s head.

There was a crackling and then from far away, but still from a moving void inside the figure’s mouth “Downtown, brother. Downtown. Don’t you want to get down?”

I began walking backward and tripped and looked up at the apparition. The orb was now spinning around the eight foot tall shadow man. “I’m not from around here, you see.” It sounded like it was talking from behind static on a television. “I’m not at all from around here.” The orb began spinning quicker around the giant. “Are you a trickster elf, boy?” The voice sounded like the thing was spinning along with the orb. I could make out the sentence only by every other syllable.

“Nah-no-ah.” I stuttered.

The voice that came out next sounded more like a droning hum “Then maybe you want to go downtown.”

And then I awoke to a sound of a knock at the door.

I didn’t bother to grab the bat.

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