An Incident in the Night

The night was orange. It was orange in the way it often did after a heavy rain, and one which had consumed the day.

He shuffled up to me, holding a corn cup in each hand.

“It’s so cold tonight,” He said.

“You often come here?” I asked.

He bellowed in laughter. It rang loud and crude in the stillness of the night.

“Here, put it in your mouth,” He urged.

“I don’t like corn.”

“You will, after this.”

“How would you know?” I protested.

“And how would you know.”

He ate corn cup and stared at the warm glow of the street lamp. I ate corn cup and stared at the warm glow of the street lamp. He turned to smile at me from time to time. I felt like burned butter, the vast airy darkness between stars. A ringing sounded in my head. He watched me closely.

“Let’s go in, the movie is starting,” he reminded.

“What movie, there is no movie now. Its 4am.”

“Yes they do. Go in. Let’s watch a movie”

We shuffled among the rows until he sat. I sat beside him.

A child was chattering loudly behind me. He was irritating. His parents chose not to cease his naive utterances.

The commercials ended and the lights darkened.

“It’s starting,” he smiled at me.

“Where,” I teased.

“At places you don’t see.”

“Shut up. Both of you.” A man from the side pointed at us. He was flanked by two gorgeous ladies. At that moment, he must have felt…top-form.

I no longer moved nor talked. The screen disappeared. The man disappeared. The room disappeared. One of the ladies remained. She gave me a smile. That smile took me back twenty years.

I was a small kid and I often accompanied my mother on her grocery trips. Whenever she needed to buy meat, we had to enter this long walkway filled with butchers and meat hanging from silver hooks. I dreaded this, for the smell of lamb, of pork entrails, of meat, made me gag profusely. In trying to prevent myself from gagging, I would be incapable of talking. It took effort to just breathe normally. It felt like drowning.

He ran towards me, all flustered.

“What happened? Where were you” I questioned.

“I should not have done it,” he stammered.

“Say now!”

“A bag of coins, I threw it at her head. she bled and laid for hours.”

“Why!”

“They are coming to get me, no time to talk.”

“Hide here.”

I reached out the empty corn cup. He jumped into it and vanished. A single corn kernel appeared.

“Did you aim well?”

“Yes, I took just one shot.”

“Were the coins scattered.”

“No, they were still in the bag.”

“Beautiful.”

“Yes, beautiful.”

“Where would you like to go now”

“Anywhere the cup takes me.”

A voice inside me said: Those wretched people. Why did they place the money with him? The people who looked like they were in top-form in their lives. Top-form.

A trio of policemen hurried across the road. They strode with such purpose, as if their whole lives were leading up to that very moment. It was beautiful.

Somehow, it was as if the night had only just begun. There were men and women littered across the place. They seemed to have come out for no particular reason.

“Quick! Run!” He urged.

“Don’t run when you are not being chased.”

“I am!”

“But I am not.”

I am nearing the pond. A clean half-moon was poised over the lake. Hidden insects clicked in remote unison. It all seemed peculiar. Under the moonlight, everything becomes more beautiful. Under the moonlight, everything becomes more similar. Moonlight makes the good person and bad person look the same, and has the same effect on feelings. Every murderer is a good person. And every good person is a murderer. A murderer of people, a murderer of feelings.

“I am letting you out”

“Be careful.”

As I tipped the cup, I squatted. I could not breathe normally. My lungs were tight.

I felt like gagging, gagging, gagging, gagging.

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