The man on the other side

Salted wounds and things that look like ketchup stains, but are not. A siren cry from down the street, a streaming, screaming sound that turns on all the porch lights and opens dark curtains.

I’ve heard the sound before, sure, but this one is closer, and I know why. There is a man on the other side of my door, limping, wet from the chase. He beats on the glass with the heel of his hand, with curses in his mouth that fall away like curls of wood from a plane. I turn on the porch light, because I know. I’ve been expecting him for twenty years, back when things were fraying, and he took the left road and I took the right. It’s an insult to see him now, for us to see each other, but his scrawny yellow t-shirt is torn from armpit to belly, and the whiskers on his jowls have turned white. He is older now, of course he is, but his eyes still hold onto the fury, and mine have turned soft and careless. There’s no romance in violence, I learned that from Rosa, but Klegman never had the comfort of a shared bed, only a dismantling temper to keep him warm.

Richard,” was the only word he had to say, and I knew it was time.


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