As we worked I felt something at the nape of my neck running down my back signaling danger, and the panic of being exposed.  I knew who it was even before I heard him laughing.  Dread filled my belly, saturating me, draining me of what little motivation I had mustered.  I turned and watched him approach.  He skipped, jumped, and danced his way through the dry, dusty debris.  And each time one of those huge red shoes hit the ground it stirred powdery puffs of ash and grime that slowly settled again outside the print. I have always hated him. That crazy orange hair, that stupid round red nose, and that painted on smile that mocks me without mercy.  He plopped himself down in front of me then caught and held my eyes.  “Hurts don’t it?”  It was as much a statement as it was a question.  Looking into his eyes I could see the fierce disdain mirroring my own repugnance back to me.  It was horrifying looking into those eyes and knowing what lay under that painted on smile.  “And what are you doing messing around here in the trash?  You’re so stupid,” he smirked.

He looked around appraising the situation.  And finding nothing of interest said, “Well, guess I’ll go for now.  I just wanted to come say hello in case you had forgotten me,” he laughed, taunting.  “I’m going to find something to do. You are so pathetic it’s boring”.  I had no answer.  And the silence like an open grave, revealed my decaying and utter impotence.  “And where are your boys”?  I looked around for them but they were gone.  “They are impressive but quite useless at times.  You know you are going to have to deal with all of us one day.  This will keep happening until you do.  And you know it will keep getting worse if you don’t. So either you will deal with us here or you will meet us on the Outside. That’s the hard way. But either way I’ll be seeing you.”

“Where are they?  Where is everybody”?  I whimpered. “Hell if I know.  Its not my job to keep up with them.  It’s yours.  You are so, so stupid,” he said shaking his head at me as he turned to leave.  He called back over his shoulder “Have you seen Her”?

“Sometimes in my dreams.  She usually just shows up and reminds me of how insufficient I am and leaves me again”.  Laughing he answered, “I know. I was there”.  “But,”  I said, “This last time though she kissed me sweetly like a lover, like it mattered, and said to trust her.  It was right before everything fell apart.  I don’t know what it means.”  This seemed to surprise him a little.  He stopped and turned to look at me.

“Really?  She did not mention anything about it”.  He paused, “Well, whatever.  Tell you what,  I’ll give her a kiss for you when I see her.  She says she likes how I kiss.  Nobody kisses like me.  I think she just likes love.  I don’t really care one way or another as long as she gives me what I want.  Later stupid”.  And then he turned and walked away.


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