Filling my warm, dry lungs with cool, damp air, I nearly vomited my dinner into the lawn. I paused at the rail down the two steps to compose myself. A scuffle on the neighbor’s roof, drawing my eyes up. On a backdrop of stars on a blue-black canvas there it sat. Peering down on me, I could only see it’s outline. I know those eyes. Flashlight in hand, it shied away. Old friends shouldn’t be treated that way, but old enemies still need to be kept at a distance, I switched to the red light. Kinder on the eyes, but still luminous. A mere sack of meat behind that dark mask. Red glinted off of it’s eyes.

“What are you doing on the roof?” I asked, less to inquire, more to fill the silence. The sound of nails idly scraping against loose tar paper showed how unimpressed it was.

“Tonight? Hrm?” I asked, less to inquire, more to express observation. It turned to climb higher on the roof, but paused to look back, those eyes glowing with Underworld fire. “I’m not just watching tonight. I’ll do something, you’ll see.” I called up to it. I meant what I said. He turned, obviously bored, and slipped down the far side of the roof. Gone. Gone from sight.

I unlocked my bike from the railing and started back into the night. Back home. Wary of what I’d find. The alley felt safe, but alleys always do have to end.

She sat on the steps, looking sadder than any male ever could. I pedaled past. The taste of her soul came to me, a taste that I enjoy. “Enjoy” is a horrible word, it’s not the right word. That kind of flavor is one that I know this world would be a better place if I couldn’t ever taste, but I look forward to it ever time. Tonight, I wouldn’t make a liar out of myself. I had to go back. At the corner, I dropped the kick stand and walked back to her. I paused with the wood railing between us. She hadn’t shown any sign of noticing me, even though her face was clear between the slats. Her thoughts were clearly obscured by alcohol. She wanted attention, and as the class clown or the bully learns, so had she. Attention can be easily gained through effort, but that which endears has a special kind of effort that isn’t so easily learned.

“Are you alright?” I asked, not practicing what I preached. Obviously she wasn’t, on so many levels.

“yes,” she answered, surprisingly clearly.

“Are you sure about that?” I hoped.

“yeah. yeah,” still clear, and still not true. She hadn’t lashed out at me, which gave me hope she’d talk.

“Is there anything I can do? Listen?”

“no,” three times was enough for me. Three times is more than I had waited for in the past. I stepped away from the steps and paused near her head at the slats.

“Good night, good night,” I whispered to her. She wouldn’t remember any of this, but her subconscious had listened to my last four words, that’s the best I could do. Regaining my mount, the night welcomed me back.

Up the hill, at the light, I remembered those red mocking eyes. Back, I’d go. The night air whispered around my headphones, the light turned green for me as I came back to the intersection. Perceived assistance must be unperceived, the powers that be, arn’t always the powers that help. Two cars sat in the street. She was laying on the sidewalk, a girl stood over her. A guy wandered up to the pair from behind the second car. She cried out something as they lifted her to her feet.

“No, your getting in the car, get in the car, in the car, in the car,” the girl said to her. The guy, assisting, looked adept at his task, but a look of ineptitude shown on his face. She fought their efforts, half-heartedly. The flavor of their hearts came to me. I looked up at the half moon, shining down on me. On us.

“No, your getting in the car, in the car,” the girl repeated. Once in the car, the guy started towards the second car. He looked up at me.

“Need any help?” I offered.

“Hey!” he said, a hint of malice. My heart went cold, my face went warm. The lie was for his protection, not mine.

“Everything ok?” I asked.

“Hey man, what’s up?” Great. The blind leading the blind. Matthew 8:22, gave me peace to leave. An hour with my back against an altar gave me leave.

It’ll come back to me. It won’t forget this.