The Stranger's journey has now come full circle.
Join me in the bright sunshine at When Words Go Free...

There are still stories to be told.
Read them at The Stranger Looks Back.

Lady In Red

"You, come here," she said. What else could I do? I went. She grabbed me and kissed me. I kissed back. She told me to get in the cab. I did. On the way, her mother asked what I was doing there. I said, "She told me to get in." Her mother asked, "Do you always do what people tell you?" I answered, "When they look like her." I paid for the cab.

We slept on the floor. There may have been other people around - I was too drunk to notice. At some point I woke up to hear her coughing. She went to the bathroom and came back without her nylons on. When she lay back down, she pulled me on top of her. It was not spectacular, but it was nice. And quiet. If there were others around, they either didn't notice or pretended not to.

The next day, she told me about her boyfriend. We were in a bed then, she was naked, I was not. She wanted me to be. I didn't. I was afraid of her boyfriend showing up. This was before I knew she was telling people that I was her boyfriend. Apparently she had a few boyfriends.

Then there was the car chase. She had been at the bar, drunk and stoned, and left in a cab. Some girl that said she was her friend thought that we should follow her, so we did. In those days, I usually did what girls I didn't know told me to do. There should have been an accident. I still don't know how there wasn't. There was a car directly in front of us, then it was directly behind us. If I went around it, I didn't remember. Eventually, we lost the cab, and I drove the other girl back to the bar. Apparently she was a lesbian.

I bought tickets to a concert. We were to go together. Her grandmother was to buy her a dress for it. I couldn't stop thinking about how beautiful my lady in red would be, how we would kiss while he sang that song. I was in seventh heaven on my way to pick her up; it was going to be a magically romantic evening. I should have known better when I got there. The dress was green.
(Continued at Devil in a Green Dress)

The Prisoner

The prisoner was brought to the town square. The judge read the charges, rendered the verdict, announced the sentence, and retired for the night. The prisoner stared at the small crowd that had gathered. The crowd stared back. The assassin approached the pile of stones that had been left there for the occasion, picked one up, and hurled it towards the prisoner. It missed.

One of the townsfolk asked whether there should be some sort of appeal. The prisoner said none was needed. The assassin hurled another stone, and missed again. The prisoner whistled. The crowd got bored and left. The prisoner fell asleep. When he awoke, he was alone in the town square, so he left to join his friends at the bar.

And that was the end of that.

Old Man

You sonofabitch. Do you have any idea how many times I've said "I wish you could have met my father?" I've said it to friends, girlfriends, my wife, my girls - your granddaughters that you didn't bother to stick around for. To the others, who knew you only briefly, I've said, "I wish you could have got to know him better." What was so interesting in that bottle that it was more important than being Grampa Paul?

If you had been a dumb fat fuck, nobody would have missed you. People would have nodded their heads in mock sympathy and said, "He's in a better place now." But you were a bright fat fuck. You had ideas. You inspired people. Remember when you started the company softball team? We were proud to wear those t-shirts, no matter how badly we lost, and we always lost. We had fun, and that was all your fault.

Remember Lily and Fritz from up here? I run into Lily in the village sometimes. Yesterday she told me I walk like you. It's been 30 years since she last saw you, and she remembers how you walked. Who leaves that kind of impression on people? A few years ago, I saw Aunt Belle not long before she died. She had no idea who I was, but when I said "I'm Paul's son," she looked up and whispered "Paul?" with what was left of her feeble voice. I said, "No, I'm not Paul - I'm Paul's son," and she looked away. As far as anybody knows, your name was the last word she ever spoke.

So why'd you do it? What was so terrible about your world that you couldn't face it with all your wonderful wits about you? Why was it that every time you started to get somewhere, every time you began to achieve success in whatever you were doing, you dove back into that bottomless vat of vodka? What the hell were you so afraid of?

Now that I'm almost older than you ever were, it's a bit funny to me that I used to call you "old man;" it brings a smile when my girls call me that. Then a tear, knowing you would have had them call you the same thing. Saddest is that we will never know what you would have called them, only that it wouldn't have been their given names.

Not so funny is that my last words to you were "Call me back when you're sober." And you weren't even drunk that time. Of all the words I've ever said to anybody, those are the ones I wish I could take back. I'm sorry, old man. But much sorrier that you never called me back.