VI – A Very Nervous Roman

Dear Journal:

I wish beds weren’t built so close to the floor, because I would be writing this under mine. Safer there. I keep thinking of late that each Journal entry may be my last one. The scare in the park and, what has been happening since then, are turning me into a paranoid wreck.

Maybe I should elaborate.

Yesterday started out gloomy and dismal. Low, grey, nasty looking clouds hid the heavens and there was a dark overcast on everything beneath them.

I had just opened my door to set out my garbage, when I happened to spy out of the corner of my right eye, something that dropped my blood temperature by several degrees. At first glance there was nothing unusual or frightening in what I saw. However, taken in context with the park incident, the implications were chilling. Three houses down, there was what looked like a beggar sound asleep against a wall.

I still had one foot in the air as I swiveled around in mid stride and slammed the door shut behind me. What all deliberate haste I went to my front window and, cautiously, looked again. Sure enough, there was the beggar I’d seen in the park the day before.

Coincidence? Maybe. Bear in mind, though, that Rome is a very big city with a lot of people in and around it. Why was he here, now? Did it have something to do with my summons from the Senate? What had I, unknowingly, become a part of? Well, I still had to go out and do my errands regardless of my paranoid suspicions. So, putting a brave face on the matter, out my front door I went.

The beggar was gone.

I frantically looked about me, but could not spy him anywhere on the street. Taking stock of myself and, with a deep breath, I continued on my way to market. I should have stayed in bed.

As I walked my familiar route to market, I began to relax. I had to stop with the paranoia. Nothing was wrong. Nobody was out to get me. I was imagining it all. I kept up this mantra as I walked and began to feel much better. However, there was something queer in the air that I was having trouble pinning down. As I looked about me, that feeling of wrongness became much stronger.

At first, try as I might, I could not isolate the source of my uneasiness. As I continued to walk and look about me, realization struck. Where was all the morning traffic? The citizenry were usually out and about in great throngs at this hour. Now, there were only a few furtive souls out, who disappeared around corners as I approached.

Well, it was still early, and I had started out sooner than I usually did. With this thought in mind I finally reached the marketplace. I was greatly relieved to find the usual crowd of people buying and selling as they did every day. However, as I wandered past the stalls, stopping here and there to peruse or purchase, a feeling of isolation began to creep over me. None of the other buyers would stand next to me.

The merchants, usually chatty and full of fellowship, silently took my money and went about their business. There was that paranoia again! I tried to believe my own words, but observation said otherwise. All around me, life was as usual. But not near me. I seemed to be a one man oasis of solitude as I went about my business. Looking around, I began to notice other islands of the shunned, around which people flowed. Close, but never touching.

Terribly shaken by all of this, I finished buying my goods and headed for home. As I walked the streets homeward, I felt the creeping grip of unreality about all I had seen today.

Nearing my street, I turned the corner and got another shock. There was the Vagrant, sitting against a wall. My park transient. My morning beggar. Loosing control, I ran past the man, down the street, and slammed my door behind me as I literally dove into my home.

It’s been a couple of hours since my return home, but, whenever I look outside, there is the beggar sound asleep against his wall. At least I think he’s asleep. I wish I was.


Published in: on August 9, 2009 at 1:49 PM  Comments (2)