Night scene from the third draft of my novel-in-progress "Uprooted" -- In the scene is Mike Hancock, a mental patient now on the streets as officials downsize a large psychiatric institution. Across the street is the storefront office of The Courier, a weekly newspaper:
Mike Hancock stood across the street from the Courier storefront, staring in the dark through its window at the small lamp illuminating a part of Todd Redding’s desk. His head felt clear. It was a hallucination, he thought to himself. The whole episode about 2C. I must have looked like a fool if anyone saw me. I wonder if I didn’t hallucinate that too. Where’s the line of separation? Am I here, too, on the street?
A police car neared him, the orange streetlights reflecting off its black and white body. A window rolled down.
“What’s up, friend?” the policeman asked.
“I’m having a smoke. It’s prohibited inside. The landlady.”
The policeman nodded. “Okay. Goodnight.”
Hancock stepped into the shadow of the old building’s hallway, cupped his cigarette in his palm so its glow wasn’t visible, and watched a bus stop on the corner. Joanne Chapworth and Leonard Lions stepped out.
“Hurry,” he heard Lions say. “It’s almost past curfew,” as they passed, hastening to the group home. Hancock smiled. I know them, he thought. We’re on the streets. That’s certain.
A short time later, a black pickup truck stopped in front of the luncheonette next door to the Courier, a man who appeared to Hancock to be taller than him stepped out, removed a ladder, placed it against the wall on the right side of the Courier window, attached something to the corner out of view of the security camera inside, replaced the ladder on the truck, backed up, made a U-turn, and drove off. The truck had a wood frame in the bed used to hold quarried bluestone shale.
Shit, that looks like a spy cam. Wireless, Hancock thought. I wonder where the connection is. I’ve got to write this down so I’ll remember to check tomorrow. He flicked his cigarette into the gutter.
As he crossed the roof to his tiny apartment, he looked at the window into 2C’s kitchen. The woman, what was her name, Mandy? Melinda? appeared to be looking out in silhouette, wearing a slip. I’m not falling for this, Hancock thought. He watched her turn to the table and pick up a smartphone. The cell phone in his pocket rang. It startled him. He put it to his ear and clicked answer, said nothing.
“Come on over, Mike. I’m alone.”
He hung up and entered his apartment, turned on the floor lamp and wrote his observations on a pad. The phone rang again. He looked out the window. She was still there. He put the phone on silent, disabled the apartment button that connects to the building’s front door lock, turned off the light and went to bed.
Limbo, Purgatory, he thought. A world of illusions that feels so real, full of pain. Plato’s cave. Shadows. Maya. Imagination gone haywire. The trace of the lost trace. Delusory. Where does the real begin and the illusion end? He lay back on the mattress dressed in his street clothes. Good night, he thought. Sleep itself has to be real. I’m exhausted.
(c) Wes Rehberg 2013