“Sleepwalking”–flash fiction, Difficult People




          Just too late I tell you. Just too late. Waited too long to get started. Got left behind. The town’s left with rank amateurs. All that shifting around, all that number and tango, all that high stepping lust and pride, where the hell was I? Buried in some corner, in some wall, white out. The surf a distant murmur, my eyes dazzled by a sleepy security. I didn’t know I even had a choice to join the party. Why? Was I deaf? Was I stupid? Eh gads, all of the above…and more. I just accepted my minor role off the highway, down a narrow street, in the winding rickety garage apartment stairs, right past the big oleander bush…the drip of the air conditioner, the grinding of invisible gears, the shift to a high plane never coming…why? Because I never thought I could, you see. Maybe you know me now and you think, hey, he’s a survivor, he got through but don’t know that I died back there in my youth, marking time, sleepwalking, day and night, my face a bland mirror of satisfaction I couldn’t enjoy. Injected mysteriously with a strange opiate of the psyche, a curse, or witchdoctor’s threat spell. I’m not sure, zombie, during parking, walking shopping, working at a desk, papers magically filtering through my ink-stained fingers and the horror of it was the others, the ones invited to the big party of the future, the ones who read the invitation and RSVP’ed. They’re gone…gone on to lives with content, with heady triumphs and raw failures…but me, it’s just too late. I shake, I quiver, I cough…and listen to the drip of the rusty air conditioner.




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