Around 4AM, when the climax of the storm rose, a Young Man wandered into town. He’d pulled his trench coat over his face. He wore a large hat. Under the trench coat, unseen, sat a small gun in a holster on his hip.
The Young Man stumbled against the wind and rain. His eyes scanned for shelter. Lightening struck, it’s glare glinting off a mirror in the distance. The light caught the Young Man’s attention. Squinting, he could see an open window creaking in the wind. It belonged to the topmost part of an old apartment building. A high climb but with the tree growing next to it the young man knew he could reach the window. He could hide in the attic until the storm passed.
Climbing the tree proved easy. The Young Man flung himself from branch to branch, higher and higher. The window’s hinges had rusted; it creaked as it swung open. The gap was just wide enough for the Young Man to slip into.
And he did.
Crouching in the attic, he gave himself a moment to feel the lack of rain on his back. With four walls around him the sound of the wind lost it’s deafening roar. He shivered under his drenched trench coat.
Safely tucked in the attic, the Young Man looked around. The dark in the attic made it difficult, but the occasional interruption of the lightening left frightening images to behold: a broken clock with a dog in a too-too as its cuckoo, several porcelain dolls, six boxes stacked in a corner marked with the word ‘sex’, the mirror that had led him there, bags marked with the word ‘clothes’, and an exercise set never used.
The Young Man opened one of the bags marked ‘clothes’. He pulled out a lacy purple nightgown, three pairs of shoes, and a pink leather jacket. He threw off his trench coat and tried on the pink jacket. It was a little tight in the shoulders but according to the mirror it looked good. And more importantly it was dry.
Moving to the second bag of clothes he found a pair of fox-fur moccasins. He pulled off his wet loafers and socks and pulled on the moccasins. His feet warmed instantly.
In the room below, Paris awoke with a start. A nagging feeling in the back of his mind scratched at his memory – he’d clearly forgotten to do something. But what it was seemed unfathomably lost.
He sat up in bed and turned on his bedside lamp. The raging storm reached his ears. He pulled his blanket up to his chest.
“Oh dear,” he said.
The walls creaked around him as the wind pushed and pulled the apartment building. Fear gripped him, he did not want to put his feet on the floor. He imagined himself blowing away out the window.
Footsteps landed above his head. Paris stopped breathing. Someone or something was walking in his attic. His imagination drew scenes of someone breaking in his front door, walking through his dinning room and living room, looking in at each bedroom, looking in and seeing him asleep. He shivered.
The footsteps tracked back and forth above his head. Paris said ‘pacing’ aloud and the footsteps stopped. Paris closed his eyes.
The footsteps remained silent for so long Paris began to believe he’d imagined them. That it had merely been the horrible storm that had awakened him. He opened his eyes, “yes, that’s it.”
The footsteps started again. This time they walked across and stopped just at the place where Paris knew the attic door was.
Paris closed his eyes and counted to ten. The attic door opened. He pulled the duvet up to his chin, shivering in the warmth of his house.
Footsteps descended down the ladder. Heavy breathing followed. Paris pulled the covers up to his closed eyes and whispered old prayers under his breath.
The Young Man stood at the bottom of the ladder taking in the grandeur of the hallway. Pink wallpaper, glass chandeliers, several antique tables all lined the walls in sporadic grace. Doors leading to more splendor added brown patches to the otherwise pink décor.
The Young Man stared down the hallway, eyes wide. He listened for any sign of life. He had to hold his breath to hear, his lungs had tired from his long journey. Not a single sound, except the storm outside, greeted his ears. He imagined an old rich lady to be the monarch of such a house. She would be easy to overpower.
The Young Man smiled. She might even be lovely, perhaps eager for the company of a vital young man. What a priceless find this pink home could be.
He turned to his right and took his time walking down the hallway. He felt as though he were at a museum, pausing to look at the paintings that hung upon the walls, touching the tables carrying sculpted glass. So much was handmade.
After walking past two doors he decided to open the third. He paused outside the door and pressed his ear against the wood. He heard nothing. Placing his hand on the doorknob he opened the door. It opened silently without the creak he’d been expecting. Darkness met his eyes.
It was a bedroom. A large, lavishly furnished bedroom. The king sized bed held a canopy. A small statue of cupid sat on the dresser. More pink. Two lamps hung upon the wall opposite the bed. In between the lamps hung a picture of a middle-aged man with a small perfectly manicured goatee. The Young Man looked at the picture. The man in the picture did not smile, appearing as though he were passing judgment on anyone looking at him. He was analyzing you.
The young man turned away from the picture and left the room. He stood in the doorway, looking down the hallway again. Continuing his route he came to a dinning room. Just off the dinning room there was a beautiful living room and just beyond that a small kitchen.
The small yellow kitchen was completely out of place. It sat limp and undecorated. Clearly, nothing about it had changed since it was first built. Yellow tile with gold trim cluttered the floor. The same pattern reached waist high upon the walls. Yellow wall paper littered the rest of the walls. Even the plastic counter tops held a twinge of yellow.
It hurt to look at.
Squinting, the young man entered the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. A gallon of milk sat alone in the middle. He took the milk, opened the cap and smelled it. It reeked, making his head spin. He replaced the cap quickly and put it back in the fridge.
He went through the cupboards next. Several boxes of stale crackers and a year old can of chili was all he could find. He slammed the cupboard doors closed, not caring if anyone was in the home or not. But then, when he looked up from his search, he found himself looking at the man from the portrait.
Paris stood in his living room watching an unknown Young Man go through his kitchen. His heart raced in his chest and even though he wore a navy blue night gown and his favorite pink robe he felt naked. Whatever bravery had visited him in his bedroom had since left. He stood shivering with fear in his living room. The unknown Young Man looked at him. Paris passed out.
The smelling salts sat on the desk by the bookcase. The Young Man was too curious to leave such an odd companion lost on the floor.
After a minute, Paris came to. He saw unknown green eyes and fainted again.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the Young Man croaked. His voice stuck to the back of his throat as though it did not want to leave.
He tried the smelling salts again. When Paris woke up the second time the Young Man started talking, “hey now! It’s okay, it’s okay. Everything’s fine. I’m not gonna hurt you.”
But even as he spoke, Paris cowered into the couch cushions, tears gracing his eyes.
The Young Man threw his hands up, “Okay. Look, don’t cry. Please don’t cry. Would ya look at me?”
Paris looked at the young man.
“Thank you. Now, what’s your name?” He asked.
Paris stared, stuttered, before saying, “Paris.”
The young man laughed, “oh, of course it is.”
Paris looked away. The green eyes of the young man penetrated Paris deeply, digging up a vulnerability he was unaware he had.
“Come on, sit up,” the Young Man said, “sit up. Come on.”
Paris sat up. He caught sight of the revolver sitting on the Young Man’s hip and fell back into the depths of the cushions.
“Yes, yes, I’ve got a gun. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna use it on you,” the young man waved away the notion.
Paris spoke, “how..how do I know you won’t?”
“There you go. Paris has a voice. You just gotta remember to use it, that’s all,” the Young Man patted Paris on his shoulder father-like.
Paris swallowed. He was beginning to sweat. He did not like sweating.
“So, Paris, how do you eat?” The young man asked. He sat down in the lazy boy, Paris’ favorite chair.
Puzzled, Paris studied the chair before answering, “I order out.”
“You, what?” The Young Man leaned forward, a hand cupped around his ear.
Paris cleared his throat, “I order out.”
“Oh! You order out. I see. I see,” the Young Man looked around the room, “what’s your favorite place to order out?”
It took Paris a moment to realize the Young Man had broached his favorite subject. Paris’ eyes lit up and then he sighed, “Machu’s. It’s a glorious place. They deliver cocktails in the afternoon. And only let the best in at night. No one’s allowed to wear jeans or be unfashionable. No one’s allowed to be everyday.”
“Well! Let’s go!” the young man indicated the outdated pink leather jacket he’d stolen.
Paris sighed again, “we can’t. It’s closed. Not that you’d get in anyway. That hasn’t been in style since last October. And don’t even get me started on your shoes.”
The young man looked at the moccasins he was wearing. “They’re your shoes,” he corrected, “just my dirty feet in them.”
Paris pursed his lips.
“So, if we can’t get food there, where can we order from?”
“I suppose – what was that?” Paris pushed himself up from the couch and looked around.
“What was what?” The Young Man looked around but heard nothing.
Then, a jiggling came from behind them. Someone was fidgeting with the doorknob.
The Young Man furrowed his brow and looked to Paris, “you expecting someone?”
Paris shook his head and shrank into his robe. The Young Man got up and hid behind the couch.
“What? Where are you going?” Paris half shouted, half whispered.
“Shh. Pretend I’m not here.”
The door burst open. Paris sat back in shock. An older bearded man walked through, pistol in hand.
He barked, “Don’t move. I’ll take what I want and be out of your way.”
Paris stood up, “no!”
The man raised his gun.
Paris’ bravery took flight again.
A gun shot fired. Paris fell to the floor. The old man saw the bullet hole smoking before keeling over dead. The Young Man lifted Paris’ passed out body back onto the couch.
He said, “well, here we go again,” and grabbed the smelling salts.