096: The Stalker

He saw them on the balcony, laughing, tickling each others’ ribs, looking at each other in the way she used to look at him. It was self-explanatory. The look of them up on the balcony: he knew exactly what it meant.

But then he wondered why everything else was so ambiguous. He watched them on this alien balcony and thought to himself: why was this so obvious when the poem, the photograph, the film, the novel, the story, and the law and the government were so beyond his understanding?

And the war. Nobody understood the war. Everyone had forgotten how it had started and nobody knew when it would end. And the street signs: nobody understood them either. But this, this was clarity. This he could understand. Up on the balcony, that laughter, that ecstatic touching, and those fresh smiles and beaming looks, that liminal happiness, those sounds and images of abject betrayal.

She’d said, “Tokyo.”

He’d said, “Tokyo?”

“Yes, Tokyo. A month in Tokyo for work,” she’d said.

“A month in Tokyo for work?” he’d said. “But you just got back from Chicago.”

“Yes,” she’d said, “and I’m off again.”

He watched them. He watched her on the balcony. She touched him with her little hands and laughed. He touched her and laughed, too. Yes, he knew exactly what it all meant: this knowing, this unique understanding, this peculiar and rare vividness pushed all his doubts away and he felt suddenly happy for it, perhaps even thankful. For in this ambiguous world, this strange, frightening place that had never made sense to him, he had always felt a little lost, disoriented, apart from its arguments and expectations, its crude arrangements of space.

Now it all made sense. Her lies, her disagreements, her evasiveness after mysterious phone calls, the way she avoided his hands and his eyes. Yes, it all made sense now.

He heard something, some rustling in nearby bushes, a subtle sound of a camera shutter. Above, he heard them laughing, playing and joking, like children. But there in the bushes he saw the shape of a women. She was peering up at the balcony. She had a camera. But she also had tears or what must have been tears; she watched them on the balcony, and he knew exactly who she was, this women, this woman with a camera hiding in the bushes. She in the bushes, he carefully peering from behind a corner. Both of them looking up and watching those motions, sounds, and images of betrayal. He watched the woman. She had yet to notice him. Regardless, he new exactly who she was. He knew exactly why she’d come here.

His gladness soared. This happiness, this clarity, cut all the old weights from him, the old burdens and sadnesses. He wanted to go to her but he didn’t know how. Yes, he would find a way. He would go to her. He would find a way. He would tell her all about it.

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