Surrender [Repost]

Promtp: Guilty

thomsons-gazelle-2

Leep couldn’t believe it. He used the remote to turn up the volume.

He was sitting in his lounger, the comfortable one, with a pad of art paper in his lap, sketching ideas for his latest book, The Fog Monster. It was challenging, trying to illustrate fog, especially since he was not a trained artist. Did he give the fog a face? Did he give it a form? In his head the Fog Monster was unseeable, but children might need a monster they could recognize, a human-style monster that they could understand and relate to. After all, the Fog Monster wasn’t all bad. Leep didn’t want to scare his potential readers to death. But kids should know that life wasn’t all a bed of roses. That wouldn’t help them in later life.

He had the evening news on the television. He liked the news readers: Hal and Denise, and the pretty weather person, and the sports reporter who made all the jokes. He felt almost like he would be comfortable with them, you know, going out to dinner or something. They seemed like they would be easy to talk to.

He only half-paid attention to the broadcast as he contemplated his drawings, his mechanical pencil in hand. But he heard something that made him stop cold, as he was erasing the Fog Monster’s eyebrows, on the grounds that they were a bit too much.

Something terrible had happened. Denise was announcing that a man had been arrested for the murder of Vincent Demarco.

Leep could not feel his heartbeat, nor that he was breathing, nor his toes. He only felt a cold finger of sweat creep up his his spine, as he watched the police spokesperson speak in front of a gathering of news reporters.

He tried to concentrate, to really listen, but it was hard.

We have a suspect in custody, said the spokesperson. He has confessed to the crime. His name is Anthony Gizmodo, of no fixed address.

They showed a picture of him they’d taken after he was arrested. He was unshaven and unkempt, his eyes open a little too wide. Leep leaned in a little closer to the screen. Oh no. It was Tony, the homeless guy he passed every morning on the way to work.

Leep used to drop change, a few coins, in Tony’s hand or his hat as he passed, but he had to admit, Tony wasn’t the friendliest homeless man on the block. But, Leep guessed, he had no reason to be friendly. He was homeless, and neither Leep nor any other person with a home understood what his life was like. He regarded the passers-by, with their homes and lives, with a palpable resentment.

Tony was angry and sad, but he was no killer.

Why had he confessed? Was he coerced? Did he need attention? Was he hungry? Was he crazy? Leep knew only one thing: Tony was innocent of the crime.

He spent the rest of that Friday night, and all of Saturday, trying to figure it out. He was frustrated and confused. But he really knew what he had to do all along, the second he heard about Tony’s arrest.

On Sunday night, after dark, Leep put on his black ski jacket. He got the gun out from its hiding place. He felt numb. Once he’d seen a film of a gazelle, on the National Geographic channel, stare down a leopard. They’d locked eyes, and, Leep thought, reached a cosmic truth. The gazelle had no escape. It surrendered, and was chased down easily by the leopard.

Leep knew he was not the leopard. He was the gazelle.

He pulled up the collar of his jacket, opened the front door, and headed out into the night. There was a light mist, a fog, that lay as light as a baby’s breath on the streets and homes and businesses and pedestrians. By the end of the night, they would know that Tony was innocent.


  • Original Prompt: Fog, April 20, 2016.
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Leep and Lizzie

Prompt: Companion

gazelle 1

Deborah Demarco’s mother was named Elizabeth, though her ex-husband and most of her friends called her Beth. Leep called her Lizzie.

In his head, only; to her face he called her Mrs. Hernandez. She was taller than Deborah, but they had the same ash blonde hair, Deborah’s long and Lizzie’s very short. The short, ragged length suited her, emphasized her slender neck and made the otherwise soft features of her face stand out: the brown eyes, straight nose, the wide lips. She was slim compared to her daughter’s curviness. If they were Disney creatures, Leep thought, Deborah would be a robust, thoroughbred horse with a gleaming coat, and Lizzie would be a sleek and elusive African gazelle. She didn’t dress all fancy, but just plain everyday things, like jeans and a shirt, or a plain sun dress with a cardigan sweater. She wore less makeup than her daughter, too. As far as Leep could tell, she wore no makeup, except maybe some eyeliner and lip gloss. Her lips were always shiny, anyway.

She didn’t know that Leep was a creep. Leep guessed that no one told her, not even Deborah, so Lizzie treated him like a normal person, like any friend of her late son-in-law. So Leep started to make excuses to go visit them. He had already started a file of clips about the Vincent Demarco murder, out of personal interest, but he put it all together in a binder and took it over to Lizzie’s house, to show Deborah. He knew she was obsessive about news clippings and articles and information about her husband’s murder, so he said it was for her. She didn’t have to worry about gathering together all the information; Leep would do it for her.

Deborah, Leep could tell, thought it was a creepy gesture, but that could have been something Leep heard about called confirmation bias, as in, just about anything Leep chose to do was going to be creepy. Anyway she liked that he kept the binder up to date. And that he brought it over every so often. Deborah liked to leaf through the pages, from the beginning. Leep laminated the first newspaper articles so the pages wouldn’t yellow. Lizzie said that was thoughtful. So she thought he was thoughtful, and normal.

He was shy around Lizzie, but to boost his confidence he always had a shower before he went over there to her house, and put gel in his unruly hair, brushed his teeth, and put on after-shave and clean clothes. That way he could concentrate on what to say.

One afternoon Leep was looking over Deborah’s shoulder as she sat at the dining room table leafing through the clippings. She said, “You could rethink the cologne thing, Leep, I’m suffocating here.” Leep recoiled, but was not shocked or even offended. It was the kind of thing people felt free to say to him. He actually learned things when people were blunt, like in this case, how not to wear too much after-shave.

But Lizzie, who was in the kitchen, said, “Deb, wow, that is rude.”

Leep couldn’t see Deborah’s face, but he knew she rolled her eyes, because her mother didn’t know Leep like she did, that he was strange and that you could say things to him you wouldn’t say to normal people.

Lizzie thought he was ok, and worth defending. Leep felt something in his chest doing flip flops.

Is this what love felt like?

Surrender

Prompt: Fog

thomsons-gazelle-2

Leep couldn’t believe it.

He was sitting in his lounger, the comfortable one, with a pad of art paper in his lap, sketching ideas for his latest book, The Fog Monster. It was challenging, trying to illustrate fog, especially since he was not a trained artist. Did he give the fog a face? Did he give it a form? In his head the Fog Monster was unseeable, but children might need a monster they could recognize, a human-style monster that they could understand and relate to. After all, the Fog Monster wasn’t all bad. Leep didn’t want to scare his potential readers to death. But kids should know that life wasn’t all a bed of roses. That wouldn’t help them in later life.

He had the evening news on the television. He liked the news readers: Hal and Denise, and the pretty weather person, and the sports reporter who made all the jokes. He felt almost like he would be comfortable with them, you know, going out to dinner or something. They seemed like they would be easy to talk to.

He only half-paid attention to the broadcast as he contemplated his drawings, his mechanical pencil in hand. But he heard something that made him stop cold, as he was erasing the Fog Monster’s eyebrows, on the grounds that they were a bit too much.

Something terrible had happened. Denise was announcing that a man had been arrested for the murder of Vincent Demarco.

Leep could not feel his heartbeat, nor that he was breathing, nor his toes. He only felt a cold finger of sweat creep up his his spine, as he watched the police spokesperson speak in front of a gathering of news reporters.

He tried to concentrate, to really listen, but it was hard.

We have a suspect in custody, said the spokesperson. He has confessed to the crime. His name is Anthony Gizmodo, of no fixed address.

They showed a picture of him they’d taken after he was arrested. He was unshaven and unkempt, his eyes open a little too wide. Leep leaned in a little closer to the screen. Oh no. It was Tony, the homeless guy he passed every morning on the way to work.

Leep used to drop change, a few coins, in Tony’s hand or his hat as he passed, but he had to admit, Tony wasn’t the friendliest homeless man on the block. But, Leep guessed, he had no reason to be friendly. He was homeless, and neither Leep nor any other person with a home understood what his life was like. He regarded the passers-by, with their homes and lives, with a palpable resentment.

Tony was angry and sad, but he was no killer.

Why had he confessed? Was he coerced? Did he need attention? Was he hungry? Was he crazy? Leep knew only one thing: Tony was innocent of the crime.

He spent the rest of that Friday night, and all of Saturday, trying to figure it out. He was frustrated and confused. But he really knew what he had to do all along, the second he heard about Tony’s arrest.

On Sunday night, after dark, Leep put on his black ski jacket. He got the gun out from its hiding place. He felt numb. Once he’d seen a film of a gazelle, on the National Geographic channel, stare down a leopard. They’d locked eyes, and, Leep thought, reached a cosmic truth. The gazelle had no escape. It surrendered, and was chased down easily by the leopard.

Leep knew he was not the leopard. He was the gazelle.

He pulled up the collar of his jacket, opened the front door, and headed out into the night. There was a light mist, a fog, that lay as light as a baby’s blanket on the streets and homes and businesses and pedestrians. By the end of the night, they would know that Tony was innocent.