She spotted him kicking the St. Jude statue installed outside the Melkite Church on the corner. It was the same dirty and desultory man who approached her the day before.
The sky was a swirl of hazy cross-oceanic Saharan dust again. The humidity clung to her exposed skin like a hot anole’s tongue.
She wanted nothing more than to avoid him and his rants above all else. She cut down a little used access road between the two luxury bayside buildings. When she stopped and turned to insure he hadn’t seen and followed her, she fell into an underworld through the loose manhole cover she stepped on—the world ascended out of her sight into an absolute darkness which welcomed her with a jolting fetid thud. All was black and remained in oblivion for a full minute.
The smell hit her first and then the warmth of the liquid she sat in—she dry heaved and gripped her stomach until she recovered, and only then she saw the faint bioluminescence seemingly arrayed in perfect geometric shapes along the curved walls. She realized she was in the sewer.
Then she heard his voice echoing from above and beyond her line of sight—the high key dust light streaming in from the gaping maw she fell through.
In an instant his face and torso filled that vacant space, and his cackle echoed down to her and filled the dark in the sewer.
“Ah, missy,” he said. “Welcome to my town. Welcome to my home.”
He jumped into the darkness with her.
“I climb knowing the only way down
is by falling. Police paved
a concrete square to catch me,
men wait with high-powered hoses
to spray what’s left of my body down.”
— Natalie Scenters-Zapico / “The Trick Is to Pretend”