Adam meets a strange man on the streets.
|On my way back from work, I met a man.
He was standing across the road, just looking at me with a curious interest. When we made eye contact, he waved me closer. I accepted his invitation, and crossed the lit evening streets.
“Hello to you!” He said in a friendly way.
“Hello to you as well, sir.” I replied and tried to shake his hand, but he politely refused.
“I have a rash.”
"Oh, I’m sorry. Nothing too serious I hope?”
“No, no. But I wouldn’t want to infect you, regardless of my condition.” He answered and continued, “let’s go for a walk together?”
I wanted to talk with this man, I wasn’t sure why, but he too, caught my own curiosity.
The man was fairly odd, though he looked normal, but there was something strange about him.
“Maybe he’s a foreigner?” I thought to myself, yet his accent seemed very familiar.
“Where would you like to go?” He asked while studying me intensively.
“What about going to a pub and grab a beer?”
“Ah, but you see, I don’t drink alcohol. Perhaps we should wander through the park.”
I wasn’t afraid of him: He had this calm way about him. And so we left the lit streets and entered the darkened path in the park.
“So... what is your name, stranger?” He asked after a while in silence.
“I am Adam Middlesworth, and yourself?”
“You may call me Tom.” He said.
“What kind of work do you do, Tom?”
I asked because he seemed younger than I, perhaps he was in his early twenties, and I thirty-six years of age.
“I listen.” He replied while scratching the back of his head.
“Oh? Well, I’m a salesman. I sell jewellery to the fine lads and ladies of this town.”
“Sounds pretty good. Do you live in a fancy house too?”
I smiled awkwardly, I did own a “fancy house” but I didn’t feel like bragging to a young man, whom I had just met.
“I make a decent living.” I said instead.
“Do you have a wife? Children even?”
“My wife is pregnant with my second child.” I replied proudly.
“I always wanted to be a father.” He said with a dreaming voice.
“It’s not too late for you, my friend.” My reply came swiftly, he was still young and so there was nothing left for him to worry about. At least, not yet.
“What is she like?”
“Yes.” He seemed oddly distant.
“She’s a stubborn and strong woman, but gentle and caring too. To me, she’s the perfect woman and I’d give her the world if I could.”
“You’re a good man, Adam.”
“You too, seem like a good man, but tell me, what’s been bothering you? I can tell from the look on your face, something is wrong.”
“I was just lonely,” he said, “until you came along.”
His reply came quickly, as though he had expected me to ask. For a long time, we didn’t talk, we enjoyed each others company, and words seemed to be redundant.
The quiet noises of nearby animals, scurrying through the bushes, the caress of the moon and the kiss of the gentle breeze, said all that needed to be said.
Tom looked at me a few times, but never really put words to his thoughts. I guessed he was just “listening.”
“Where do you live, Tom? Maybe I could walk you home before I go back to my wife.”
We followed a stream of water through the park.
“Do you live here? In the park?” I asked confused.
“No, I just rest here.” He smiled at me and I began to consider bringing him with me home. At least, he could spend the night on a warm couch instead.
“I see...” I mumbled and worried that he might be homeless.
He stopped moving and leaned in over a big rock, “I rest behind this, usually it’s quiet here.”
I walked over and looked past his shoulder, and was met by a human grinning skull.
“Is this a joke?”
“No.” Tom replied, “I was murdered here, it’s been a while now, I don’t even remember his face anymore, but thank you for bringing me home.”
And then my new friend Tom, disappeared right in front of me, with that strange smile of his painted on his face.
“Take care, Tom.”
That was the first and only time, we’ve ever talked.