Walking the Old Neighborhood

A Short Story, by Joseluis Nunez

I took a walk today. A really long walk, from the innards of the city to the bowels of the suburbs. I constantly checked my shoulders, kept aware of my environment. I hugged the main roads, wary of the wild path. But no one followed me. No one held me up. I found the library, and lounged down by the door. The sun broke through the clouds, and I saw a sky as blue as any Facebook logo. Bluer than the Mac Screen. More blue than the blue screen of death.

Sweat clung to my shirt and skin. I often wiped large drops of moistened salt away from forehead. A tall woman with grey streaks in her brown hair, a purple dress and knapsack, walked up the tile steps and tried the door. It was locked. Her eyes darted away from mine, like cockroaches when the light’s turned. I waved. She smiled, but in a forced manner. The smile that shows in the mouth, but not in the eyes. Then she rounded the corner of the pavilion.

Several people drove and parked inside the lot. They stayed inside their cars, where there was air conditioning. Three minutes before the library opened, a fat woman with a light blue shirt and dirty fliplops walked up to the door. Another group, three or four children, each a year apart, and led by a single mother, shuffled in behind me. At the time I was humming softly to myself. It was an 18th century concerto I had heard on a Vivaldi cassette tape.

“Haven’t heard that song before.” One of the ladies said. I stopped, and we waited in silence. It was an uncomfortable silence, the kind that happens when your hubby uses the cell-phone after sex, and you’re left to wipe the semen off your face by yourself. No one met each other’s eyes. When the door unlocked, a blast of cool, refrigerated air melted away the unease. The cold logic gates of the 20 computers at the front burned off our discomfot. Everybody sat in front of a screen, like ducks in a row.

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