Right before it hit, I was at my most lucid. I had begun guessing with a 98.4% accuracy. I knew I was off about a couple of things but I felt secure in what I did know
1.The bugs that had descended the trees had all frozen so I didn’t have to worry about killing them.
2. The streetlights were out on almost every block.
3. I use intimidation as a tactic to seize opportunity.
I was in the center of Spruce hidden by a heavy snowfall. The ground was soft and white like powder. You could not hear the snow hit. You could not hear my steps.
I was in front of a house with two candles in the window and walking fast towards the knob. I’m sure if you could slow down time and cast the second of decisiveness like a projector onto a screen, you would see me praying under my breath. But what he and I will remember is the knowingness in which I swung the door open. I doubt I can recount the name I said with complete honesty but the feeling of being a wrecking ball, that never goes away.
“I am being followed,” I said putting my withered, gloveless right hand up, dropping the chewed plastic straw on the ground. “ I am sorry for the intrusion. I am being followed and I am almost out of food.” I closed the knob with the left,“I have no weapon or means to harm you.”
My hands hurt. My knuckles hurt.
“What is that?” he pointed to the straw.
“A straw I play with when I am scared.”
We eyed each other like that in his foyer. He was no more than 5” 11’ and center to the door upon entry like he had been watching it. I made myself smaller in his presence. Where I may have stood 5” 8’ to someone else, I stood 5” 5’ and shrinking. Where I may have held my chin up at someone else, I lowered my head. Where I may have begun to pick the straw back up in a time of more comfort, I bowed and stayed there.
“Are you alone?”
“Where is your family?”
“My parents are dead.”
I looked up.
“I don’t have many and if they had intended to check on me, the storm made it harder. I just moved here.”
“I don’t have much,” he said.
“Sir, with all due respect, I can tell you have more than me.”
I did not budge.
“How did you get in?”
“The door was unlocked.”
“Fuck,” he turned his head to the left.
He was squarely in his forties, divorced, and might possibly have children. He was handsome, wearing a sweater, khakis, looked like he was still preparing to go to work. Like he hadn’t assumed his elderly parents dead like I had. Like he was living in a fantasy. He had great hair too, brown, thick, long.
“I went out earlier,” he said. “You shouldn’t be out at dark. It’s getting more dangerous out there.”
“Well,” I didn’t move any closer. “I have a cat. I need to return to her. The stores are barricaded and the gas stations have been cleaned out.”
“This area is being patrolled.”
“Well, they didn’t stop me from walking this far and I can’t leave empty handed.”
He shifted uncomfortably.
“What’s your cat’s name?”
“Genevieve,” I said without blinking. “She is all I have left.”
I hadn’t moved from the front door. He hadn’t invited me in. We stood squared liked that. Audibly, he sighed. Suddenly, I wished for something else. Like a bomb or my Gigi, my security blanket I slept with until I was fifteen. I knew it was a long shot but I asked.
“Do you have any cat food, at least?”