NIGHT IS NOTHING, nothing substantial, the eradication of clarity. What remains is shadow, form, movement, change.
Nighttime, violence, the street. Robert Strange stands in a doorway, a shape in a coat. For him the street is synonymous with life, and it is always night. The daytime, light, these were things to be avoided, and not merely for reasons of personal taste. Light is clarity, the vulgar, the obvious, the trivial. At night, people and their movements partake something of the darkness that surrounds them. Nothing is clear, nothing is trivial, nothing is not potentially dangerous.
The woman with red hair was a very different story. She was young, and the emblem of her beauty still maintained its power. Very white skin, poignant, but what of her personal life? Strange stopped himself—he was drawn to her, he wanted to know who she was, what she did for a living, who she slept with, what was in her mind, what preoccupations, what fragments of thought. Never mind that he was supposed to remain intellectually, not emotionally, engaged. There was something else. Vulnerable, yes, but it was as if she could only be seen through a white sheet of light, detached, shielded from her surroundings.
Strange follows this woman at a distance, compelled by his need to discover who or what she is, follows her along increasingly deserted streets, fewer streetlights. He has to move fast to stay with her, even though she appears to float along, unconcerned. A street of warehouses, deserted, except for an old man passing in the opposite direction. She's sure to notice him now, there's nowhere to hide. The woman with red hair turns a corner, and Strange, trying not to run, follows. She's not there.
The night was taking a more sinister turn. The crowd had dispersed. Now, except for a stray phalanx of violent youths, there were isolated individuals. A small, ancient man with yellow eyes staggered past, muttering to himself, hands shaking. To enter his mind temporarily might be interesting, to examine its confused and degenerate flow. This was not the case, for, as Strange discovered, this mind contained only a single concept that stood out from the surrounding confusion, a single desire. Strange followed him into a filthy, anachronistic barroom and had to smile, for in that dark, dismal place, video screen droning in the corner, decrepit crows muttering to each other, voices now and then raised in a torrent of argument, only to subside, Strange felt at home. This was the past, and he was far more comfortable in a vision of the past than he was in the present.
Silence pierced the morning, a silence not real but purely emotional. Exhausted by the thoughts of the crowd, by the necessity of constantly making moral judgments, which by their very nature were subjective even when they presumed to be objective, Strange felt as if he were a phantom floating through the morning light, which was no longer a faint blue but had turned to harsh white at the end of the alley.
He was almost around the corner when he understood that down there, to his left, was a dead man, shining ever so slightly in the shadows.
© 2013 Steven Fraccaro