To be hunted is to feel your very life being sucked out of you with every exhaling moment. He knew how close the enemy was to him now and it would not be long until he would be forced to retreat and take flight again. His opponent was much stronger than him, but he savored the temporary victory of being able to flee at a moment’s notice. No roots and a few casual acquaintances was the purposeful design that he lived by. He knew the sweet, familiar scent of his captor and he also knew that the last moment was drawing near.
Last night he had only wanted to enjoy the company of a lady friend, a few drinks, casual conversation, late night television and maybe some foolish comfort, but the night took on a different air as he felt his captor drawing closer for the kill. It was like an instinct whose purpose is to save you from yourself. He could feel it before he could see it, identify it and, ultimately, be consumed by it.
BAM. BAM. BAM. BAM. His skin quivered and his stomach threatened to lurch up to his parched throat as he quickly contemplated what was waiting for him on the other side of the thin door. Every thought in his mind protested the movements that his body was making to walk towards the answer. The invader was coming back to claim him he thought and at this moment, his body was betraying him in disobedience by answering the door. His hand gripped the old rusted doorknob and angled it on the loose screws that were holding it in place. Wide eyed and heart in a rapid, pulsating panic, he quickly swung the door open ready to face the attacker.
“Mister, I’m selling chocolate for myÃ¢Â?Â¦” his mind was unable to focus on the small child’s voice and the words sounded almost foreign to him as he lunged into his pant pocket searching for any loose silver that was residing deep within. The footsteps were trotting down the hallway and dancing in front of his neighbor’s door before he could actually feel himself breath again. Careful not to laugh at himself and trivialize this whole sordid game, he gathered up his uniform and set off towards the old brick building with the hidden windows that would be his fortress for the next several hours.
On the slow, crowded, reeking ride he thought, for a quick moment, that he could detect the redolence of the one that he was desperately seeking to avoid. He tried his best to make himself invisible in his shared space. Using only peripheral vision, he unassumingly tried to catch a glimpse of his hunter, but was unable. Perhaps his perception was being overly paranoid, but he knew that, in this case, paranoia was his best friend and his last true salvation. He was quick to make his exit from the metal hotbox that carried him to his temporary safety, careful not to be so obvious as to be noticed when he was so close to a reprieve.
On the brisk walk to his comfortable, monotonous assignment, he decided that this was the last day. With no forewarning, no explanation, he would disappear like he had the other times into mystery and even despair for the foolish ones that tried to find him. His mind was now deeply concentrated on the task before him as he forged ahead through the daylight hours counting down to the approaching moment when it would all be over.
Inside the tiny basement cage where he would mindlessly toil away the next several hours he was comforted by the haphazard dÃ?Â©cor of brooms, dust mops, putrid smelling solutions and a makeshift desk with an old, black, dusty rotary telephone resting quietly on its surface. As he rushed to pull the thick, dark gray uniform over his faded denims and clinging white t-shirt, the grimy black phone laughed loudly, almost mockingly, a long, shrieking laugh that paused every few seconds waiting for his reaction. As long as he was on duty he knew that he could not avoid picking it up. He withdrew a quick breath and let it out slowly, so as to steady himself and with all of the courage he could muster he said hello.
“We have to talk, this evening. I will wait for you at your apartment.” That was it. There was nothing else. A simple command. It couldn’t possibly be a request, because just the way that he knew what his nemesis wanted, he always assumed that this powerful force knew how much it was hated, how much he did not want any part of its plan. The rest of the day was a total blur to him as he toiled away without much else on his mind, but how to escape the cunning clutches of what was waiting for him. He wished over a hundred thousand times that he had gathered the bundled stash of currency that was buried deep within the confines of his lumpy second-hand mattress. If only he had, he could leave right now without a word to anyone, board a familiar bus for nowhere and inconspicuously start again. But he had foolishly underestimated this superpower, actually thought that he could make it one more day. He should have known better and now there was nowhere for him to run. Without the capital that he had managed to siphon away in quiet anticipation for this time, he could not get far enough so as to not be found.
As the day closed its eyes on him, he decided that he would go ahead and face this enemy. Perhaps there were magic words he could recite. Maybe his cruel speech would cause a retreat or maybe the look of contemptuous disdain would send this would-be captor running instead. Either way he felt the hunt closing in on him and he was more afraid now than he had ever imagined being. The two hadn’t been this close in a great many years and surely his enemy had grown stronger while he had grown weaker from the pursuit.
As he boarded the hotbox once again to return to his origination, his mind, like a true warrior, reminisced on what he knew of his obsessed captor. It was amazing to think that they had once actually been on the same side. They had been the best of partners in those days; Days which had been filled with the optimism that they were conquerors too strong and mighty to ever be defeated. They had foolishly believed that the world was within their reach. Riches, glory and bliss everlasting. But then the betrayal set in, bringing with it the immense distrust and, before long, all respect had faded and what was left was a bitter resentment and a vow that the two would never walk the same paths again. In the years since, he had resisted the enemy’s capture with everything in his power as he watched other men be consumed by its selfish appetite. There had even been a few that he had tried to personally warn and rescue, but they laughed at his vengeance and a few even pitied him. To most this enemy was a welcome. It had a chameleon like power able to transform itself into something, which appeared good and even virtuous, but he knew better. He had survived one painful attack and had been a refugee ever since. It was because of this force that he would never again feel safe, feel welcome, and feel at ease, because he knew its deception and its beauty was but a faÃ?Â§ade created to trap him forever.
At his apartment, he took the back stairs two at a time deciding that, if he could, he would gather a few belongings and escape before the ominous meeting even had a chance to take place. His breath was so fast by the time that he entered into his plain abode that it threatened to lay him down in a dizzying stupor giving the enemy the opportunity to advance on his helpless form. Perspiration began to peek through his t-shirt and suddenly he felt like there was not enough air left on the planet to sustain him long enough to make his escape.
Just then there was a light tapping at the door, the worst, unthreatening kind that he had learned to fear the most. His voice was the first to leave, his remaining breath second. Tap. Tap. Insistently it demanded an answer.
“Yeah.” He crept slowly towards the only barricade left to protect him.
“It’s me.” Was the only response. He was defenseless for the moment. He could almost hear the breath on the other side of the door and he was overcome with the fear of allowing its presence past the thin partition.
“Wait, I’m not ready.” He stalled.
“Open the door.” Came the second urging.
“What do you want?” He was becoming very aggravated with having to protect himself from a will that was so persistent that he had learned to always expect it.
“You know what I want. I want you.” He was taken aback by the bluntness of the statement.
“Go away!” He shouted now, hoping that the force behind his words would be enough to send the enemy into retreat, but like a true hunter, to the enemy this only meant it was time to advance.
“You can not run me away. I came for you and will not leave until you are truly mine.” Sounding confident like one who was in command and aware of its affect.
“Why me? Why now?” He had never understood the answers to these questions, but continued to ask them almost daily. Now he wanted answers, real answers that he could bet his life on. This was, in fact, everything that his life was centered around and now, if he was to be defeated, he wanted to know why.
“Because you are the only one. The only one special enough to see through me and I through you. We know, and understand each other too well.”
“That’s no reason-“
“That’s every reason. I want you so badly. Need you to existÃ¢Â?Â¦this is destiny. We both know that, wherever you go, you will always be taking me with you. I will be right there and you cannot escape me.” There was a long silence and then, “Please.” It was barely audible, but it represented a request this time, not a demand. It was less threatening than ever before. This must be how it had captured the others he thought. Appearing weak and helpless, but all the while being in such control. He knew that it was just another ploy, but he summed up his options and decided that there was too much truth in the statement that he could never hide from this powerful grasp. He couldn’t keep running. Well, he could, but he would always be discovered. There was a weakness to his nature that gave him away every time. He withdrew his last breath as a free man and then slowly, but deliberately reached again for the decrepit doorknob. This time he knew what he was inviting in and he would have to adjust his whole life one final time. Still, he opened the door, looked into those deep, dark brown eyes, stepped to one side and finally, for the very last time, let love in.