The form sat partially obscured by the mismatched building edges on the store fronts of South Fork’s downtown area. He was caught between the bakery and the theatre. He was a relatively new fixture in this town of just a little more than five thousand. His hands, folded on his bent knees were red from the elements, flaked with weariness. On his feet were dingy sneakers and were the only thing that said he was of this world. The rest of him was covered with a burlap-looking, dark brown body-length robe, including a hood that only let his chest-length, gray but streaked with street crud beard show. Many passersby had visions of a medieval friar when they saw this homeless soul.
He rarely looked up at those who were trying their best to ignore this creature crouched on the street. However, when he did, you could have sworn his eyes were rust. Not brown. Not red, but the same kind of rust on your uncle’s 1976 Caprice Classic left out and abandoned in too many Detroit winters.
When the streets were empty except for leaves being blown by the gusts into a devil’s whirlwind, he would slowly rise. He would walk around the back of the shops and see what sustenance he could find in the dumpsters and trash cans, his hands not ever losing their red tinge. The things he picked from the trash were not always easily identifiable as food. If you watched closely you might see him gnawing on bones and discarding the seemingly more satisfying flesh. At moments he moved so quickly, you’d have thought you’d mysteriously missed whole moments of time. He would lick on broken bar glasses and suck on pieces fractured plates. If an alley cat or rebel raccoon competed for treasures in the rubbish, the cloaked vagabond would hiss with a level of hatred only hell beasts are capable of producing. For that brave living thing which resisted the hissing and secondary swatting from the cloaked figure, would surely incur a fatal swipe from his one long gray thumb nail on the cloaked figure’s main hand. If you were the spider above the doorway where this creature’s shadow crouched out of the inevitable Pacific Northwest rain, you would know that the blood of those rebellious vermin was his wine.
On this particular night, a young buck police officer saw the hooded figure behind the bakery. The rain poured, muting out the sound of the unlucky rat that tried to bite the unfortunate man the cop observed on the street. The officer watched, but his thoughts kept telling him to leave well enough alone. It was more work to incarcerate this man than to leave him be.
Although another thought battled inside his mind, saying that what he saw was not quite right. He could not really see clear to a reason that he should act. As he drove away, however, he could have sworn that those eyes below the hood were not merely rust, but radiating.
A simple whisper, “Abaak Lajjad,” would be the only thing that the spider in the doorway’s corner would hear before it also was captured and swallowed into the wide mouth full of too-long teeth shadowed beneath the brown cloak.
Casondra Brewster is a writer, editor, literary teacher and mentor, as well as the founder of SnoValley Writes! She hopes one day to make the valley more famous than Forks, Wash.