This time I am going to tell you about The Walker, who does not scare me.
He does not scare me. I tell my sister as much, and often. Practically all the time. I say, “The Walker does not scare me.”
We live in a very nice neighborhood, you see, which just happens to be bordered on one side by a red light district. I suppose it’s a red light district. Gay night clubs, leather bars, sex shops. That sort of thing.
I approach my neighborhood from the red light side sometimes. That’s when I find myself dodging seven-foot drag queens and young hustlers and herds of gawkers. Oh, the gawkers are more plentiful than you would believe! They come from far and wide to gawk.
Perhaps this is not an environment one can picture me in or even driving through.
I’ll grant you that but if I stick out then The Walker sticks out nearly as badly. Too old to be a hustler, too dressed to be a hobo, he stomps Fairview up and down, ceaselessly. Endlessly. Hands balled into fists. So, angrily.
“Maybe he’s a pimp,” my sister said. We were sitting in my car last week, watching The Walker from a parking lot down the street.
I said no, definitely not. “Why would a pimp stomp up and down a hot, empty street at two in the afternoon?”
My sister would not surrender. “Maybe he’s just walking…”
“He’s walking with purpose,” I said, and I knew whereof I spoke for I was watching him through binoculars. “He is walking to be seen.”
At last we devised a solution. Between ourselves. The only solution to be had, really.
We would pull up next to him in the car. We would unroll our tinted windows and there we’d be: Tiny, identical Punjabi girls, smiling.
Offering him fifty dollars.
Probably, he’d be skeptical at first. Unsure. Of course he would. But then he’d pause, he’d smile and he’d reach up behind him, producing… a… kitten. Yes, a kitten, seemingly out of thin air.
“Enjoy the kitten, girls,” he would say, giving us change on our fifty before stomping off again.
And we would enjoy the kitten. Very much.
Alas, the mystery remains. The fifty sits in my console, gathering dust.
Who knows quite why The Walker walks?