Why? – Part Two

Dan’s smile grew. The young man looked at the lines on his face, crinkled up.

“Listen man, it’s okay” he started as Dan turned and started running into the house. He opened the door a crack, slid through and slammed it shut behind him. The young man looked around. He wondered if anyone was watching. He looked back up at the house. Dan was smiling at him from the window. He held up a big red San Francisco 49s jersey. It looked way too big for either of them. Dan whipped the curtains shut.

“That’s not gonna fit” said the young man, to himself.

“Almost honey,” Dan shouted back into the house as he slammed the door. He ran down towards the gate. “There you go. And here’s your two hundred. Sorry we didn’t have change.”

“It’s fine.”

They both looked at each other for a second. The young man looked into Dan’s eyes. They didn’t look as crazy as he thought they would. He took the money from Dan. Dan passed him the big red football shirt.

“This thing is way too big for me.”

“I could go grab you something else” said Dan, thumbing back to the house.

He looked back at Dan’s eyes. He shook his head a little.

“It’s fine. Two hundred bucks will get me something that fits.”

Dan let out a little laugh.

“Of course! Let us know what you get. I might give you three hundred bucks for it!”

The young man stopped smiling. He looked at the house. All the curtains were drawn.

“Can I change in your house?”

“No.”

“Okay.” He paused. He looked back at Dan. He had stopped smiling. He looked back at the house.  “Why do you want my shirt?”

Dan spun his head back around.

“I like it. It’s just a nice shirt.” He shrugged.

“Okay” said the young man. He turned away from Dan. He checked quickly for people looking. He thumbed open the buttons. He took the shirt off and threw it back to Dan. Dan caught it. The young man quickly pulled on the large football jersey. Dan tried his hardest not to smell the shirt.

*

Dan watched the young man walk back in the direction he came in. He shuffled along the street with his hands in his pockets, the big red football shirt drowning his thin frame. He looked back before crossing the street. Dan smiled and waved. The young man pulled his hand out and weakly held it up, looking down the street.

When he got out of sight, Dan lifted the shirt to his face and slowly rubbed it around. He smelled the washing powder. He could smell the house it came from. He smelled the young man that sold it to him. He put the shirt over his back and started buttoning it up frantically. He straightened the collar out and tugged at the bottom. He walked back to his house and opened the door. He looked back down the street. The young man was standing on the corner looking at him.

He slammed the door.

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2 thoughts on “Why? – Part Two

  1. katja says:

    Now I’m scared!

  2. Shawn says:

    Definitely creepy — especially with the smelling of the shirt (actually, Dan’s resisting smelling the shirt was brilliant — it added to his character and made me wonder what was going to happen. I wondered, does he think it might stink or does he have a fetish?). I think you could either end the story at part II or continue. If you end it there, you need to expand the “honey” or delete her/him.

    It’s interesting that the young man’s opinions start to come out in part II (“He wondered if anyone was watching.” and “They didn’t look as crazy as he thought they would.”). You need to consider if this is your intention or if you want to stick to your original style. I find it OK, but it has to be a choice that you as an author make and not just an inconsistency.

    I’m surprised the kid would be willing to go into the house to change — especially right after you’ve just written, “The young man stopped smiling. He looked at the house. All the curtains were drawn.” You might want to have him say he wants to change inside after he thinks that Dan doesn’t look so crazy after all. If you don’t want that, you could just add a small transition (e.g., “but”) showing the character reasoning with himself or making a decision to go into the house. Why does he want/is he willing to?

    Having the partner/spouse/housemate (“Almost honey”) come into the story seemed strange. I’m not sure how she fits, and I don’t think she adds anything to the narrative, so I’m waiting for part III.

    In a piece like this tension is everything, and I think that you have done it very well.

    Virtual hugs, kisses and Santa Ana winds* to you,

    Shawn

    * “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.” (Raymond Chandler, “Red Wind”)

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