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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1796918
by Jacob
Rated: E · Other · Fantasy · #1796918
A story of hope and mystery, of the unknown and the uncanny alike.
It was March 7th, 1968 in Blayton Georgia.  Oh, I see you know of it, yes it was that year.  The year of two grisly murders in a small, rural town, the year that the townsfolk of Blayton started locking their doors and watching each other with careful, suspicious stares.  It was the year of our fear, the year of the Blayton Butcher.  It was the year of the Glimmer man.



The night was dark, the kind of dark that reminds children, in case they’ve forgotten, of the monsters that hide under their beds, in their closets, in the mirrors waiting, always waiting for the moment when little Bobby or little Lucy aren’t watchful, always waiting for them to forget.



The wind roared through the small community sending gusts of rain pattering loudly against suburban homes.  It was a night to be indoors, a night of lightning so close, so bright that it seemed to light up the world.  The storm was so fierce that it shook dishes from cabinets and slammed screen doors so loud it made even the hardiest of men look over his shoulder.  A night of wonder and of fear, of excitement and anxiety, it was the night of the Glimmer man.



The storm had come upon the town unexpectedly and had sent men, women, and children scurrying to their homes.  It was eleven o’clock on a Thursday night and every house along the block was lit up.  It was as if people were scared to be in the dark, as if they believed that should they let the light go, should they let it fade into that wild, tumultuous night then they might never see it again, that they themselves might become a part of that dark, that storm.



And so the people of Blayton cowered in their homes.  Children restlessly peeked out of windows; parents checked and rechecked the locks of their doors as if it was their vigilance alone that kept that night, that storm from having complete dominion.  The air was whipped and flayed with a wind so vicious that tree limbs were snapped off in its wake, so powerful that parents interrupted their lock-checking from time to time to stare into the sky, into the roiling, pitch black heavens fully expecting to see a funnel cloud or worse.



And I, a frightened ten year old, was among those lock-checkers, those window-peekers.  Benjamin Becker is the name, Ben to my friends.  Yes, it was many years ago, but I remember that night perfectly.  I remember every scent and every sound.

  It was as if we all knew it was no normal storm, as if we knew that it carried with it something else, something … new.  But I get ahead of myself.  So come then, come and I will tell you a story.  A story of sadness and joy, a story of little fantasies and larger truths, a story of cruelty and mercy, a story of hope … Yes, that most of all.  Come and listen.  I will tell you the story of the Glimmer man.

“Sweety?” 

I turned away from the window and saw my mother standing in the doorway of my room.  She was tall, slender, and possessed what the old timers called a “classic beauty.”  Mary Becker, my mother, was a unique mix of Cherokee and Irish bloodlines.  She had high cheekbones, tanned skin, blue eyes like small chips of ice, and long, bright red hair the color of fire. 

“Hi mom,” I said, as I turned back to the window.  Compared to the roar of the storm, my voice sounded weak and insignificant.

“You should get some sleep sweetheart,” my mother said, but I could tell by the tone of her voice that it was only a half-hearted attempt.  Blayton had never seen a storm as bad as the one of that year, and I think she said it more in an attempt to talk of something normal than any real desire for me to sleep.  Oh, how we gird ourselves with shields of wishes and the armor of dreams.

She sat down on my bed and put an arm around my shoulder, kissing the top of my head.  I smiled.  It was only me and my mom in that two story house, and so we were closer than I believe most families ever have a chance to get.  We were all each other had.  My dad died when I was three. 

He had owned and operated a furniture store.  He’d hand-crafted all the tables, chairs, and other pieces himself.  He’d loved his work, but he had loved his family more.  We had all been happy.  He was a great man.  At least my mother always told me so, and we never lied to each other.

But one day he’d drove to Atlanta on business, a large corporation was interested in having him make several pieces.  It was an exciting time, a big break for us.  He left on a Thursday, intending to stay the weekend in Atlanta to finalize the deal with the corporation.  We got the call that Saturday.  He’d been found dead in an alley, two gun shots to the chest.  His wallet was gone, but the police were able to identify him by the documents in his brief case. 

My mom still had the sketches he’d brought with him that day.  She kept them with his things in a chest in her bedroom.  I’d see her going through them from time to time when she thought I was asleep, looking at each piece carefully, whispering words that I could never make out, as if he could hear her, as if she needed him to hear. 

Lighting traced out of the sky in a brilliant white and the accompanying thunder was so loud that I couldn’t keep myself from jumping.  “It’s okay, sweetheart,” my mom said.  The lights in my house and all of the other houses on the street flickered and then cut out.  “I was afraid this might happen,” my mom said, “I’ll go get some candles.”  I could hear her shuffling footsteps as she slowly walked out of my room. 

It was then that I thought I saw a shadow of movement at the far end of the street.  I stared at it hard until the shadow resolved itself into the shape of a man.  The rain was pouring down in waves, but the man ambled along as if it was a clear, sunny day.

  He did not hunch, he did not hug his arms to himself or hurry along.  No, he walked with the slow, measured strides of a man who is completely at home in his surroundings.  He walked amid the storm calmly, as if he was a part of it, as if it held no mystery, no wonder for him. 

This was surprising to me, but what took my breath, what caused me to grip the covers tightly in my fists, were his eyes.  In the near-black his eyes glimmered a sporadic, bright orange, as if they weren’t eyes at all, but furnaces of flame and heat.  He walked down the middle of the road as if he owned it and I could see faces peering out of the windows of the other homes on the block, others besides myself that were confused by the sight of the man. 

The man stopped in the road in front of my house and turned toward it.  I was at the window by then, standing and watching with the innocent scrutiny that comes so easy to the young.  Then those eyes looked up, and stared at the window, stared at me.  I had been wrong.  Those eyes shone not with the color of fire, but with the vibrant, waking oranges and yellows of sunrise.  They were knowing, depthless eyes that reminded me of the sun playing over still water. 

I couldn’t be certain in the dark, but it seemed that the ghost of a smile drifted across the man’s face.  I backed up into my room, tripping over my bed and falling with a yelp.  I didn’t know it then, but that was my first look at the Glimmer man. 

We, as a race, have a tendency to expect change to be heralded by great rising crescendos of joy or sadness, to be illuminated in revelatory light or sound, so that all who come across it, or all who it comes across, will know it.  True, at times, change is mirrored in such ways, but not always, not all times.  No, change, more often than not, comes in a fading whisper, in a passing glance or an unfinished thought, and yet in that moment, who we were, what we were, is forever lost to us, drifting away unnoticed like fog on a summer night.  So it was with the Glimmer man.

As I lay there, gasping for breath I heard, through the sporadic crashes of thunder and the wind and rain that beat against the side of the house the tinny music of our doorbell.  Never before, and never since, has any sound carried such mystery, such foreboding, to my ears as that doorbell.  My breath caught in my chest as I heard the telltale creak of our door opening.  Blayton is a small community, or at least it was in the sixties, not a place where people worried about opening up their doors to strangers, least of all my mother. 

Be that as it may, my heart was filled with dread, my stomach rife with it as I listened to my mom’s voice, speaking to someone.  There was a pause, as if the man spoke in reply, but nothing drifted into my ears except the rushing wind, whistling through the treetops in eerie melody.  I was frozen with indecision for several minutes, listening to the sound of my frantic heartbeat and my rapid, shallow breaths.

It may seem silly to you now, safe in your home, as you read this on a calm normal day like any other, but to me, at that age, on that night, a night to surpass all those that came before or after, I can simply say that I was struck with the presence, the inevitability of the uncanny.  The old folks used to say that dogs can smell change, can smell good or evil when it comes, maybe I could convince you that there was that in me as well.  Not always, not ever again in fact, but only then, only on that night. 

In the end, you will believe whatever it is you want to believe and perhaps that is best.  Such mystery, such events can be good or bad, but always, always they change those who experience them.  But this is Blayton’s story.  This is my story, my change, and so I will proceed. 

Finally, I steeled my nerves and rose to my feet, creeping down the stairs ever so slowly, ever so carefully.  Silently, I sat down so that I could see through the steps into the kitchen where my mother was.  In the light of a lantern, I could see a man sitting at the table, but from my position on the stairs I could only make out dusty blue jeans, black boots, and a blue denim shirt.  His back was turned to me. 

I rose, deciding that I would go a little farther so that I could see his face, so that I could see if he was the man that had been in the road.  I crept farther down the stairs, but when I looked the stranger stood not three feet away, staring up at me, a smile on his face.  His face was average, normal.  His skin was tanned, leathery as if he’d spent long hours in the sun.  He was an older man; I’d guess late forties, early fifties.  He was tall and thin and he had short dark brown hair shot through with gray.  Salt and pepper stubble covered his face as if he hadn’t shaved in a few days. 

His eyes were a normal hazel and even as I gasped in surprise, I began to think that maybe he wasn’t the man I’d seen in the street after all.  “Oh that’s my son, Benjamin.”  My mom’s voice came from the kitchen.  “Ben come on down, I want to introduce you to somebody.” 

“Well, hello there.” The man said, his voice light and friendly.  As I watched, his eyes shifted from their normal hazel color to a fierce, bright orange that reflected the ambient light with an eerie quality reminiscent of the eyes of a cat at night. 

I gasped again in fear, and my mom walked out of the kitchen.  “What’s the matter, sweetheart?” she asked curiously.  But before she got close enough to see the man, his eyes shifted back to their original color. 

“H-his eyes!” I exclaimed.

My mother looked first at the man and then at me.  “Benjamin!  Don’t be rude! There’s nothing wrong with his eyes at all.” 

The man smiled at my mother, “It’s alright Mrs. Becker.  I’d distrust a stranger who showed up at my house in this kind of weather too.  At night no less.” 

My mom ruffled my hair, “This is Mr. Ellison, Benjy.  His car broke down outside of town, and what a night for it!” 

I nodded numbly.  “Come on, Mr. Ellison, you must be freezing.  I’d offer you some coffee, but the power is out.  How does a nice piece of pie sound? ” My mom said as she turned and headed back to the kitchen.  The stranger winked at me in a friendly, knowing way before he turned and followed after her.  He sat back down at the kitchen table, his back to me. 

I noticed that a jacket I didn’t recognize was hung by the door.  It was black, a man’s jacket.  My curiosity was piqued so I slowly, quietly began making my way across the room, hoping my mother and the stranger were too distracted in the kitchen to notice. 

“I really appreciate you letting me into your home, Mrs. Blayton.” The stranger said, his voice calm and steady.

“Oh don’t think anything of it.  Besides, you’ll catch your death out in this kind of weather.  So what brings you to Blayton?” I heard my mother ask.

“I was called.” The man said, and I remember how curious the answer seemed at the time.  My mother noticed it too.

“You were called?” She asked, “Called for what?  If you don’t mind me asking.”

I crept farther into the room, doing my best to stay out of the light of the lantern; I could hear my mother rooting through the fridge.

“Business, I guess you’d say.” The man responded after a moment, as he finished off his a piece of my mother’s chocolate pie.

I made it to the jacket and slowly, carefully, began rooting through the pockets in search of … well to be quite honest I had no idea what I was searching for, but I was searching just the same. 

“Oh?  What kind of business are you in?” my mother asked.  I continued to search the side pockets of the jacket, but couldn’t find anything. 

“I fix things that need fixing ma’am.  Odd jobs, you know, that sort of work.” 

My mom laughed then, “I wish you could fix the power.  I’m afraid if it doesn’t cut on before too much longer everything in that fridge is gonna spoil.”

“It’s never good to be in the dark.”  The stranger said, his voice sounding far away.  “If you’ll point me to your fuse box ma’am I’ll see what I can do.”

I found an inside pocket on the jacket and reached in, feeling something wooden against my fingers.  It was small and in the dark I couldn’t tell what it was so I slipped it into the pocket of my pajamas.

“That’s awful kind of you, but I don’t know if you could do anything.  I think the whole block’s in the dark.”

“Almost ma’am.  Almost.  Just the same, I’d be pleased to take a look at it.”

“Well, alright,” my mom laughed, “If you insist.”  I walked into the kitchen and saw that they were both rising from the table.

My mom walked over and showed the stranger the fuse box beside the refrigerator.  He looked at it for a minute before glancing back at my mother.  “Ma’am I don’t suppose I could trouble you with another piece of pie?  It sure is fine.”

My mom beamed, surprised.  I loved my mother, but the fact is she was just about the worst cook I’ve ever met.  I mean that lady could open up a bag of pretzels and they’d taste like cardboard.  She hurried back to the fridge to get another piece. 

As soon as her back was turned, the man brought both of his hands up to the box.  I couldn’t see them behind the fridge, but I saw a shimmer of orange and yellow light and then, without warning, all of the lights in the house cut on.  I had thought they hadn’t noticed me standing in the kitchen doorway, but the man looked over to me then, smiled, and put his finger to his lips in a gesture of silence. 

I opened my mouth to speak, but found that for some reason, maybe fear or something else, I couldn’t find the words.  The stranger and I shared a look and I struggled to speak, to tell my mom that something wasn’t right, but for some reason I couldn’t and then the moment passed.

“Well I’ll be!” My mom exclaimed with a disbelieving laugh as she turned back around.  “You weren’t lying!  You are good at fixing things.”  He smiled and reached out to take the small plate of pie, before suddenly his smile vanished, apprehension and something akin to fear creasing his brow. 

The transformation was so quick, so immediate that I remember thinking it wasn’t like the smile had disappeared, but more like it’d been murdered.  That doesn’t come close to expressing the change in the man’s countenance, but it’ll give you some idea of what I’m talking about.

The man looked up at my mother, his right hand clenching and unclenching at his side.  “I’m sorry ma’am, but I’ll have to take a rain check on that pie.  I just realized I have an appointment I can’t miss.”

“An appointment?” My mom asked in surprise, “On a night like this?  Surely nobody would venture out on this kind of night.”

The man stared off into space for several moments, his eyes searching for something only he could see.  “Some would.” He said, his voice low and sad.  He visibly gathered himself, pulling his thoughts back to reality and bowed his head slightly to my mom, “I thank you much, ma’am.” He said and hurried to the door, grabbing his jacket.  The second that he grabbed it from the hook in the wall he looked at me.  His eyes narrowed in suspicion, and then he smiled slowly.  “See ya soon, Ben.” He said as he put on his jacket.

“Well don’t you at least want an umbrella?” My mom asked as she walked in from the kitchen, “You’ll get soaked.” 

“I appreciate it ma’am, but I really have to be going.  Thanks again.” He said, before hurrying out the door into the downpour.  We watched as his dark form faded into the curtains of wind and rain and soon disappeared altogether. 

“Well, now that was a little strange.” My mom said.  I looked down the street and noticed that all of the houses on the block were dark except for ours.  I nodded slowly as I peered into the darkness that had seemed to engulf the man. 

“Well, sweety.  It’s high time you got in bed.”

‘But—“

“No buts.  You have sweet dreams and say your prayers.  I’ll wake you for school in the morning.”  My mom hugged me and I slunk up to my room.  It wasn’t until I was in bed about to turn off the light that I remembered the wooden piece I’d taken from the stranger’s jacket.  I took it out and saw that it was a cross.  The wood was worn and faded and I held it even as I fell asleep, lulled by the sound of the wind and rain.  When I dreamed, I dreamed of orange eyes shining in the darkness like a new sun, bright and clear, searching always searching, but as to the object of that search—I had no idea.

My mom woke me in the morning and I got dressed and rode the bus to school.  My classes went by in a blur, so distracted was I by thoughts of the stranger from the night before.  He who had come with the storm.  I kept the cross in my pocket and idly felt it throughout the day.  It had felt like such a dream, the storm, the stranger’s appearance, and the cross was assurance that last night had been real, that I hadn’t imagined it.

Finally, the end of the school day came and I rode the bus home.  My mother wasn’t there yet.  She was a nurse at Blayton Medical Center and she often worked the late shift.  I let myself in and sat on the couch, turning on the television.  My mother had left it on a news station and I started to change it to cartoons before I saw something on the programming that caused my breath to freeze in my chest.

The reporter was standing in front of Blayton Hospital.  A banner ran across the bottom of the screen, “Murder in Blayton” it read.  I watched the news program in rapt attention until it was over.  A nurse who had worked at the hospital had been found murdered in her home that morning.  Apparently, she had died from several stab wounds and had been found tied to a chair.  The police claimed to have found traces of drugs in her system and they suspected the killer had used them to render her unconscious.

According to the reporter, the police claimed that the woman had been dead since late the night before or early that morning, somewhere between the hours of eleven and two in the morning.

My thoughts immediately went to the stranger from the night before, the man with the glimmering orange and yellow eyes.  I got up and made sure all of the doors were locked.  I tried calling my mom at the hospital, but she wasn’t able to come to the phone.  Confused, and scared, I walked out of the house and started down the sidewalk.  I didn’t know where I was going, only that the walls of the house felt as if they were closing in on me.  I had to get out. 

I made my way to Bucky’s general, one of the local grocery stores.  As I walked in, Bucky Tanner, an overweight man in his sixties saw me and waved, “Hey there, Ben.  How ya doing son?”

“I-I’m okay, Mr. Tanner.”  I said over my shoulder as I hurried down a random aisle.  I was scared that if I kept talking to Bucky he would ask me if I’d seen the news and I didn’t want to talk about it.  I passed displays of Lucky Charms and Raisin Brand as I made my way to the back of the store.  As I came around the corner of the aisle, I slammed into someone and almost fell down before I was caught in a grip like iron. 

When I looked up, I saw the stranger from the night before, his face serious as he helped me get steady on my feet, hoisting me up with leathery, calloused hands.  “You okay there, Ben?” 

“Uh y-yes sir,” I stammered, my fear making my voice shake.  “Mr … uh …”

“Mr. Ellison,” the man smiled, “But if you like you can call me the Glimmer Man.”  He winked at me conspiratorially,”I’ve been called it before.”

He let me go and suddenly stumbled sideways, barely managing to catch himself on one of the shelves.  He glanced up at me.  His eyes flashed orange for a second, but he blinked and they went back to the normal color. “It’s coming.” 

“It?”  I asked, my curiosity overcoming my apprehension.

He nodded distractedly and cocked his head to the side as if listening to something, but all I could hear were the sounds shared by every store, elevator music and the squeak of shopping carts.  Down one of the aisles a baby cried.  “No … not it.  Something else.”  He said.

He looked up at me, his expression tense.  He had deep circles under his eyes and his face appeared haggard, as if he hadn’t slept.  “You need to go.”

“What?  Why?”

“Darkness follows darkness,” he said.  He glanced around at the few other shoppers that were in the small store, a woman pushing a cart with her baby inside of it, an old man looking at the cereal, a young couple arguing about something in hushed, angry whispers, and me.  “Too many,” he said, his voice low with worry. 

He looked back down at me, “Come on, now.” He said, and grabbed my arm.  He started dragging me across the store, toward a small storage closet.  I fought against him, memories of the news story flashing in my mind, but it didn’t matter.  His grip was as unmovable as a mountain and despite my frantic kicking and clawing we were soon at the closet.  “Stay in here.”  He said as he shoved me in and closed the door.  I heard him shout something, but I couldn’t make it out.

It was then that I heard the gunshots.  Three of them rang out in rapid succession, shattering the safe atmosphere of the grocery store like a hammer through glass.  I stood there, shaking and quivering in the dark for several moments before I slowly, carefully eased the door open.

You may, at this point, think me foolish.  You may not understand what would possess me to open that door, what force drove me to have to see, to have to know.  I could tell you that I was ten years old and that I was curious, as all young boys are.  But that wouldn’t be the truth.  If you have ever been in such a situation you will understand.  Guns are terrifying.  Those blasts were so foreign, so alien to that comfortable environment that they, and the screams that followed after, made my hands shake and my teeth chatter uncontrollably.

Yes, guns are terrifying.  But they aren’t the worst of things.  No, the worst fear, what drives children to pull the covers over their heads at night, what sends us all groping for explanations for the unexplainable, is simply the unknown.  I was scared to look.  But I was terrified not to.

The door slid open slowly, soundlessly, and I peeked out from the bottom of it. The closet that I was in was on the same side of the store as the register and so I was able to look straight down the aisle and see the man with the gun.  He looked young, probably in his early twenties.  His black hair was slicked back and he had an earring in his left ear.  His eyes were open wide and his whole body shook making him appear to be more a beast than a man.

  The stranger walked toward the gunman, his hands slightly raised. 

“Don’t you come another step closer man or I’ll blow you away!  I’ll kill every one of you!  Don’t even look at me!” The man’s voice cracked as he screamed.  The other people in the store didn’t look up, they kept their heads to the ground, their hands clasped over them.

The stranger didn’t stop moving.  He continued toward the man, his head shaking slowly.  He spoke, but his voice was soft and low and I couldn’t make out what he said.  The pistol in the young man’s hand shook even more.  “I mean it man!” he screeched, “Don’t come any closer!”  The stranger kept coming and the gun barked in a flash of light.  It must have missed because the stranger didn’t so much as slow.  Several bags of Doritos exploded and chips flew everywhere, but the stranger didn’t slow.

The shooter grabbed the gun with both hands, but it still shook uncontrollably.  The stranger was only a few feet from him now, and the gun went off twice more in deafening blasts.  I could hear loud popping noises as the bullets tore through shelving and dry goods.  I knew that the stranger had to have been hit, knew that he had to be dead, there was no way that a man could miss from that close.  It wasn’t possible.  But he didn’t cry out or fall over; instead he drew closer to the man and laid his hand on the gunman’s head. 

The gunman flinched away from the contact, but then froze.  The stranger’s hand began to glow, emitting a soft, orange light.  He spoke, but the words were lost in the whimpers and cries of the other shoppers.  The shooter’s face contorted in anger, then his eyes widened and his breath started coming fast, and then tears came.  Slowly at first, increasing in strength until the shooter sobbed uncontrollably.  He seemed to forget about the gun altogether.  He hugged his arms to his chest and fell to the ground in a pitiful, weeping heap. 

The stranger held out his hand, speaking in quiet, level tones, and the shooter put the gun in it, before he covered his face with his hands and continued to weep uncontrollably as if he were a child.  The stranger took the gun and patted the shooter on the head tenderly, before turning and walking out the door.  He didn’t look back.

I lay there, frozen in shock.  It didn’t make sense that the shooter had missed.  He couldn’t have.  Slowly, the others in the store began to rise.  The gunman continued to sob and weep, covering his face with his hands.  “I’m so sorry,” he kept whispering, over and over again in a steady litany of regret.  “I’m so sorry.”

Bucky reached under the counter and grabbed a pistol.  He pointed it at the young man as he reached over with the other hand and grabbed the phone, dialing 911.  The gunman still didn’t move.  The other people in the store slowly began to drift to the front, their eyes never leaving the shooter.  The young couple were no longer arguing, but hugging and kissing each other as best as they could while keeping their eyes locked on the weeping man in the floor.

Bucky gave 911 the information they needed and hung up.  “What … What happened?” The old shopper asked, his voice low and unsettled.

Bucky shook his head, “Where is his gun?” 

The woman rocked her baby, trying to quiet its cries, “I don’t understand … one minute I thought he was going to kill us all and then … I didn’t look.  Did anyone see what happened?”

Everyone shook their heads, they had all been so afraid, so concentrated on blocking out reality, so focused on being smaller, quieter, stiller that they had not seen anything.  I felt my hands shaking, but I couldn’t make them stop.  “It was the Glimmer man.”  I said, and was embarrassed by how weak, how frail my voice sounded. 

“The what?” Bucky asked, “Benjamin I had forgotten you were here are you okay?”

I nodded, struggling to talk past the lump in my throat.  Before I managed to, the wailing of approaching sirens intruded on the stillness of aftermath.  Somehow, their warbling noise seemed almost perverse, almost sac religious to me, for I had seen him.  When all the others had cowered in fear, the Glimmer man had walked toward the man as if he was invincible, and somehow he hadn’t been mown down by bullets shot at point blank range. 

When the police arrived, they questioned everybody about what had happened.  Everyone was sure that there was a man who spoke to the shooter, they had heard a voice, but even Bucky, who had been so close, wasn’t able to make out what was said.  The words had not been for him.  When the police questioned me, I did not tell them about the Glimmer man.  It felt wrong, somehow, to even think of it.  As if I would be betraying him somehow, but not just him, betraying the good in what he’d done.  Besides, the police would just think I was crazy anyway.

They examined the surveillance videos, but the police on the scene complained that the camera must have been on the fritz because they couldn’t see anything but static.  They could hear the voice of the shooter screaming, but that was all.  No picture, no other sound.  No trace of the Glimmer man.

My mother left work early when she heard about the incident.  She pulled up to the store and practically leapt out of our tan Jeep Cherokee.  She rushed to me and pulled me up, hugging me fiercely.  I’ll never forget her face.  Tears streamed freely from her eyes and her expression was at once tight with fear, but relieved that her worst nightmare had not come to pass.  “Benjamin what happened!?  Are you okay?”

I started to answer, but the cop who had been watching over me until she got there spoke first.  “He’s okay, ma’am.  The paramedics have already seen to him.”

“What happened?” My mom asked, refusing to let me go.

“There was a shooting, ma’am.  But no one was hurt.”  In fact, I knew that they hadn’t even been able to find the gun.  Adults in general and cops in particular, have a way of overlooking children.  They had talked freely around me, as if I wasn’t there, and so I knew that they were puzzled by the absence of the hand gun. 

They’d tried questioning the shooter before they’d taken him to the police station, but he was too distraught to provide them with any answers.  The other shoppers told what they could, but it wasn’t much.  After all, none of them had seen the Glimmer man.  They’d hidden behind their ignorance as if it was a shield that protected them from seeing the shooter’s face, protecting them from truth, from reality, or perhaps it was more than that.  Maybe even if they had looked they wouldn’t have seen him, impossible I know … but if the impossible ever had a shot it was then.

Soon, we were in the jeep driving home, my mother glancing at me constantly.  “What happened, sweetie?” she asked.

“It … it was,” I started to say it was the Glimmer Man, but changed my mind.  “I don’t know.”

She shook her head, “What is going on with this town?” She mumbled, “First poor Francine and now this.”

“Francine?” I asked.

She covered her hand with her mouth, “Oh, it’s nothing to worry about honey.  Francine’s just a nurse at work.  I don’t know her really well, she works the early shift, but she always seemed like such a sweet lady.  She went to our church for a while, remember?  An older lady, always really dressed up, used to give you candy?”

I nodded, I did remember Francine.  Mrs. Dailey, a heavy set older lady.  She’d always had candy on Sunday mornings, tootsie rolls or jolly ranchers.  I remembered her name from somewhere else too.  She’d been on the news.  She was the one they’d found dead. 

We rode in silence then, neither of us speaking.  I have heard people say that silence is a sanctuary, and perhaps that is what we both sought.  Recent events had left me, at least, wary and unbalanced, as if the ground, that had been so constant, so sturdy for so long, shook and pitched beneath my feet.



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