Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Nowhere Man

 Illustration by Darryl Fabia.

A lady, or man, or even a child who walks the road alone,
May hear a voice upon the wind, and in it this tale is told.

“I was walking the road, coming home from market on a fine spring day when I spotted another traveler in the distance, and he was coming my way.  We stepped closer and closer, as two men traveling are like to do, and when I was near, he smiled at me, and stuck out a friendly hand.  A promise I’ll make you now—I was as friendly as ever that day.  Gave no evil eye, no unkind word.  I just smiled and shook that hand.
“So we passed each other, giving no more than a shake and maybe a greeting or two.  Then I went on my way and he went his, and I only thought of home.  Yet the more I walked, the less I thought, until finally I stopped and it came to me.  To save my life, I couldn’t remember my home, not my walls, my bed, not a thing.
“I couldn’t just stand there, so I went on walking and came to another town.  Little enough money sat in my pockets, but the barkeep didn’t charge me none.  He said now and then a man will lose his way and with a kind hand he’ll find it again.  Never you mind, I might have drank a little much and stumbled back onto the road that night.
“And then, would you believe it?  Even in the moonlight and far away, I could see him clear as day.  There was the man who shook my hand, walking the road like he did before.  Might’ve been my drink thinking, might’ve been me, but I had myself an idea.  If one shake caused my troubles, then two shakes should set them straight.  So I puffed out my chest and straightened my hat, and started to march that way.
“It was so like before that if you were watching, you’d swear it was the same.  We gave greetings and friendly smiles, I promise, and we shook hands a second time.  When he passed me again, I laughed to myself, and thought I was on my way.
“But the night wore on, as nights will do, and my home never came near.  And a little worse, if you do ask me, for I couldn’t find the town with the pub neither.  I wandered far up the road and then I wandered far down.  Never saw no homes, no town squares, just some travelers, maybe lost like me.
“It was on the wandering down on the path that should’ve taken me home that I saw that damn nowhere man who’d taken all the places I did and didn’t know.
“Now, friendly I was when we first met and friendly I’d been at the second, but my father taught me this—friendly will only get you so far, so carry a smile, sure, and a knife as well.  I had that knife stuck in my boot and pulled it out right then.  A smile in the front, a knife hidden behind, and I was ready to meet that man.
“He smiled at me a third time and stuck out a friendly hand.  Might be I was sobering, might be I wasn’t, but just then I had another idea.  Three shakes might undo all or a gutting might do the same.  With no one to ask and no one to know, I stuck out one hand for him to shake and stuck him sure with the other.
“That smile wouldn’t die, even if he did, but of even that I can’t be sure.  Couldn’t find his body like I couldn’t find my home, and I couldn’t find the road either no more.
“Nowadays I walk on nothing, don’t need food or drink or sleep.  I just keep walking this nowhere where the nowhere man wanted me.”

A lady, or man, or even a child who walks the road alone,
Had best beware of the wandering nowhere or else never go home.


SteewpidZombie said...

That was pretty interesting, and a change from the usual tales I've come to expect.

Darryl Fabia said...

Thanks! I wanted to try doing one with a different voice than the stodgy fairy tale narrator (or horror one, alternatively). Might try it again sometime.