By: Paul J. Hamm
Adrenaline is pumping through my body as I lie on the floor staring out through the lower part of the window. Outside, the lush tropical plant life provides camouflage.
The stranger has returned.
I didn’t see him approach this time, he just appeared in the street like a phantom while I was daydreaming.
Damn the daydreams! They come on with no warning, haunting me more and more as the days go by, the passage of time reaping its revenge on the thoughts of my aging mind. Sometimes I wonder if the stranger has something to do with the daydreams; that maybe he’s causing them.
Why is he torturing me? Why does he keep coming back?
The stranger scans the street, looking for witnesses - no one there. He glances up, something of interest catching his eye. Slowly turning my head, I follow his line of sight.
What the hell is he looking at?
Then I see it, twenty feet off the ground, perched on a wire. The sparrow chirps, fluttering its wings, oblivious to the danger lurking below. The stranger wants to consume it, willing the bird to the ground; I can feel his rage radiating out like a blast wave. I glance back at the stranger, realizing my grave mistake of looking away in the first place. His eyes lock on mine, catching my movement by instinct alone. He takes a step towards me, my entire body tensing as he moves.
“This is going to end,” I tell myself, feeling my own frustration and hate boiling to the surface. I hear a distant sound. The stranger looks towards it, breaking his stare. The sound is familiar, my heart star filling with hope.
A witness - finally a witness to see this awful creature for what he really is.
The stranger bolts, his liquid speed turning him into a blur. As he disappears from view, I crane my head, pressing my face against the glass. I can no longer see him, but he’s there, I can feel him.
The familiar sound becomes louder as a car turns the corner, the driver on the phone unaware of the evil lurking so close.
“Look,” my mind screams. “Turn your head and see the creature!” The car passes, the woman not even glancing in my direction, the rumble of the tires subsiding into the distance. Damn.
I look for the stranger; he still eludes me.
Maybe he’s gone - maybe that’s all it took – maybe the driver did see him as…
A face peers around the corner, and my entire body begins to tremble; his green eyes blaze in the afternoon sun, mirroring dual reflections back of myself. The fury I see in those eyes deepens my own anger.
“Why are you doing this? Just leave me alone,” I hiss at him through the glass. The stranger is silent, his hypnotic gaze unwavering.
He takes a slow, calculated step as I rise to my feet, the reason why no longer mattering. He stalks forward, low to the ground. Every hair on my body stands up as static charges the moment.
“Come on,” I scream at my nemesis, his face becoming demonic. “I’m not afraid of you!”
The stranger tenses, his muscular legs pulsing. He wants to leap through the glass and turn me into a demon, fill my primitive nature with howling devils.
“I can’t let that happen, I won’t,” I growl at him, calibrating the situation with the strength of my inner being.
He leans forward, the inevitable strike coming. The breath of the moment wavers in the mouth of time. Then a miracle reveals itself. A familiar object strikes the stranger with a massive blow. The creature cartwheels through the air, landing in a heap among the green blades of grass. He looks up, an expression of fear and confusion replaces the fury, and he faces his new enemy.
“Get the hell outta here!” a voice booms through the moment.
The stranger scrambles to his feet and darts through the yard, his adolescent speed still eerie to me as he shoots across the road. The front door opens, letting in the stranger’s foul smell. The man who steps in is three things to me - my savior, my hero, my owner.
He calls out to his female, “Martha, that damn stray’s shittin’ in the flower bed again!” Noticing me in front of the window he points the broom in my direction.
“Hope you paid attention, ‘cause that’s what I’m going to do to you next time I catch you sharpening your claws on the couch.”
His female calls to him as he walks out of the room. “What’d you say Bart? I can’t hear you when I’m in the bathroom.”
I return to the window, their voices becoming distant. My eyes scan, locking on two green orbs reflecting in the sun. From under a car across the street, the stranger flicks his tail in arrogance.
Tomorrow’s a new day, my friend, I think while closing my eyes; the daydreams invading my head once again – tomorrow’s a new day.