by Ryder W. Miller
The streets were darker than
he was used to but he walked onward through the night. It was an unusual town, very conservative in many ways, but the streets
were now empty. During the day the trees were beautiful to behold, but at night they were private and they shaded out the
street lights. The streets were dark enough that he would need to watch his footing among the overgrown trees. They were now
also eerie because of how empty they were.
It had been a hard night at
work. The foreman had talked with his group about their productivity. They needed to speed up the unloading, or they may be
out of a job. His group would have to work harder or they may be replaced. Joshua figured that they already worked hard enough.
After a shift he would be tired, and his muscles and joints would sometime ache.
He would walk through these
streets alone on his way to the train that would take him over the water to his home. The walk would usually take him thirty
minutes, and often he would buy a coffee or alcohol to drink on the way. He was sometimes spooked-out by the walk. The streets
seemed so empty and off limits. There were lighted windows and music and sound from the houses, parties he was not invited
to. This town seemed to appreciate the fact that light pollution blocked out the sight of the cosmos and the streets were
appropriately dark, but there were also those who would be scared of the darkness and stay off the streets.
Joshua felt uneasy and wondered
why the streets were so empty at night. He would not always take the same route on his way to the train. The assignment at
the docking port was originally a short one but it lasted longer than he expected. Part of the appeal of the position was
that it gave him the opportunity to explore the town. He was able to search places for meals on his way to work. At night
he would check out some of the nightlife. But often he was just tired and wanted to make his way home.
He could walk down the main
strip all the time, but he preferred taking different routes each night. Sometimes he would stop off at a bar on his way home.
Sometimes he would get coffee, a drink, or a bite to eat. But the town was in many ways like a mall with its shops and young
people. If you did not know anyone you were an outsider, and therefore a stranger.
Joshua remembered some of
the encounters he had in the night. There was the time when a person crossed the street rather than walk by him between the
trees and bushes. There was the time where he and another had to squeeze past each other. He only remembered the man's open
mouth and his nervousness. There was a time when he walked onto the property of a business to throw something in the garbage
and the lights flashed on. Usually when he was on his way to the train there were few, if any, people on the streets.
Tonight was no different.
The streets were empty again. He was drinking some foul and powerful coffee drink. Most of the cars drove by without bothering
him, but when he waited at a street light a pickup truck also stopped. Country music played from the truck radio. He looked
into window and there two men with flannel shirts in the truck, in the back was wood. On the side facing him there was another
man who was drinking something from a bottle. The man in the truck closest him moved his arms quickly and said "Pow" and started
laughing. The truck then quickly drove on.
Joshua was shocked, startled
even, but he started walking again. He had dropped what he was drinking, the coffee now spilt on the sidewalk.
There were lots of these "types"
in town. Many worked in construction, some on the dock with him, and other doing other assorted jobs in manual labor around
town. They were just having fun, but the walker felt pained after they had left and he had walked on slowly. What a bunch
of public nuisances he thought.
The streets seemed surreal
now, full with strange angles and curves. He found it difficult to walk. He figured it must have been due to what he had been
drinking, but he usually had to drink a lot of alcohol to get like this. He wasn't clumsy or disoriented, he just had a greater
artistic appreciation for the situation he was in. He was a stranger trespassing through these eerie streets. He realized
that he did not belong. He did not have much of a choice in the matter. He had to walk these streets but they were not his.
The messengers in the truck were trying to tell him that in their way.
He stopped to look at himself
in a storefront window. The window was large and the lights were off so he could not look deeply into the store. He gazed
at his reflection then and realized his roots. He would never be able to own such a store. He would not understand the legalities
or the rules of commerce. There were whole worlds above him that he would never understand. He noticed that he was a worker
first, but there was something odd about his visage in the window. His appearance was not as pronounced as it should have
been. He put his arm up to touch his chest and realized that he could put his arm through himself. He looked down at himself
and realized he was no longer solid.
Not knowing what to think
he walked back to the corner where he dropped the coffee. The streets were still eerie and dark. He did not yet understand
what had happened. When he reached the corner he found himself lying on the floor. There was bullet wound in his chest, and
blood and coffee on the sidewalk.
Joshua could not shed a tear.
He realized that he was now a ghost. He did not desire to drink anymore. He was not hungry, cold or tired. He did not belong,
actually he would not belong anywhere, but now he felt rooted. It didn't matter if he did not belong. There was nothing further
they could do to him. He had found his new haunts. He decided to go for a walk.
W. Miller 2006