As Real as Neon

Original draft of story, with illustration; click to view

This is a tiny story that I wrote on a single page of my sketchbook. It is based on a few scribbled illustrations that dropped out of my brain onto the page via my new fountain pen (A Sailor 1911 with medium-fine point, for aficionados).




The torn flag perplexed me. No one leaves a torn flag hanging on a pole. It was a cheap fourth-of-July-only rag, the pole stuck into an angled holder under an eave of the house.

I kept walking. There was a hedge two houses down. I slid behind it.

The sun set about an hour later. House lights came on here and there. It was nearly dark when I finally heard voices. A man and a woman walking out of the flag house.

I followed, at a good distance. I couldn’t let anyone see me—mud on my shoes made me stand out. And he might remember me.

They walked all the way to King St. I turned the corner, watched them go into El Marlin. I stood under a marquee and pondered my options.

I could walk away.

I could confront him. In the restaurant. Daggers sheathed.

I could strike from behind, kill him on their walk home. I could image the look in her eyes. Would she know I’d let her live?

A quick jab would do enough.

She was lost to me either way.

There was a MacDonald’s catty-corner. I unwrapped my cheeseburger with shaking hands. Halfway through, I pulled out my knife and tapped the point into one french fry at a time.

If I couldn’t kill all of the them, what was the point?


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