This is what I thought; I should just turn around. Turn around and walk away from this. There’s some wierd shit going on here and I don’t need to be a part of it. This is what I thought as I walked toward the old man. When I reached him he said, “The wind has changed son. It’s from the East now, troubled times ahead.”
“That’s what I’m afriad of. You’re going to pay for this old man. If this turns out bad, you’re going to pay.”
“Son,” he said to me, “I’ve been paying for a long time. A long time.”
I think it was the most lucid thing he’d said since I met him, but I still didn’t know what he meant. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Things are not what they seem.” Great. Back to that again.
We walked in silence for awhile. The old man seemed to have a destination in mind as I noticed him looking at street signs whenever we came to a corner. As you might expect, I broke the silence first. “So, what more is there for me to see?”
“You’ll see,” he said.
To say that his communication skills were worthy of merit would have been a gross exaggeration. “I don’t think I properly introduced myself earlier,” I said. “My name’s Spence. Short for Spencer. What’s yours?”
He stopped abruptly, first looking at the ground and then letting his gaze drift again. “I,..used to have one.” he said. “Don’t remember it now. Not much use for one now I guess.”
“Not much use for a name?” I asked. “You seem to know your way around here,” I said, exasperated, “You must know people, what do they call you?”
“What did you call me?”
“I called you ‘Old Man’ but tha…”
“Good enough,” he said.
We continued to walk through neighborhoods of single houses probably built in the 50’s. Tree lined streets, kids and dogs. Pretty normal stuff. We began to hear sirens in the distance. I imagined fire trucks and police gathering at the bombed out store. “Do you have a cigarette?” the old man finally said.
“Thought you didn’t breath?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, guess I forgot. I think I used to smoke.”
“You don’t remember?”
“I seem to have forgotten things about my, my, past.”
He said the word ‘past’ slowly, as if tasting it like it was a new word. He was a strange man and I was having trouble figuring him out. I got the feeling that the more questions I asked the more questions would be revealed. So I decided to stop worrying about it. We came to the end of the block we were on and stopped. The old man looked down a side street and nodded his head. “Look down this street and tell me what you see.”
“Well, I see houses, trees, a couple kids in a yard and a few cars. Oh, a silver Impala.”
“Lets get closer,” he said.
“Do you think that’s wise,” I asked, realizing I was asking another question.
“Imperative,” he said. Of course it is.
We walked slowly down the block until we were across the street and almost to the house with the silver car in front of it. “Go on over there. On the right side of the house is a window that should give you a good view of what’s going on inside. Go on, it’ll be alright.” For reasons I still can’t understand, I trusted him. I crossed the street and made my way up to the right side of the house. There was the window, just like he said. I walked over to it and stood with my back against the house. Turning my head I looked inside. In the room was the man who had been in the store. Mister Yellow Polo. He was speaking to a women who was holding the satchel he had carried with him. They were standing close together. He raised his hands to her shoulders and pulled her to him. They kissed. A long and somewhat passionate kiss. They finally separated, said a few more words and he turned to leave. I looked around the corner of the house and saw that the old man was still standing out in the open across the street. I tried to signal him by waving but he didn’t see me. The man from the house came out the front door and headed for his car. I flattened myself against the house as he started the car and pulled away. He didn’t seem to notice the old man. I was just about to leave when I noticed a police car pull onto the block and slowly make its way up the street. It stopped in front of the house, an officer got out and walked up the sidewalk to knock on the door. I took a quick look through the window to see the woman stick the satchel under one of the couch cushions and then turn to answer the door. Words were exchanged and suddenly the woman was sobbing. I couldn’t see the two of them but it was clear that the officer had delivered some sad news. And then it all came together. Suddenly I knew what was happening.