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NO ONE IS SAFE
by Susan Tepper

The woman, who looked so much like me, had been stabbed in the chest. Sometime before eleven at night, it said. Close to her body, in the grass, was her gold link bracelet: snapped in two. A man walking his collie nearly tripped over her in the dark.

Ronald stood there shaking his head. "Who could do such a terrible thing?"

Dressed nicely in a summer suit, clutching his briefcase, he had stood before me, framed by sunlight coming through the bay window. From his shower, water seemed caught on the ends of his short, light hair making it glisten. Ronald was still boyish-looking. Though his face had become a sad face.

Sunk in the chair, clutching the paper, from out of nowhere that face rose before me - that man in the park. He had not been boyish-looking. Or damp-haired. Or even remotely sad. That man had struck me as darkly evil - in the way of psychos and stalkers and perverts. That man had felt so wrong for the park.

~~~

My first big mistake was in saying hello - in answer to his hello. It was like I told the police and that reporter: I looked over my shoulder and there he was, standing behind the bench, a little bit off to the side.

How did you get here? I was thinking staring at him. Because I hadn't heard a thing. Not a rustle in the grass, not a snapped twig. Nothing. But like I told the police: I wasn't in the least bit worried. I just said hello. After all, it was the park. My own home town, Sunday, the middle of the afternoon. In the shadow of Clear Mountain.

I said my hello then turned back to look at the bright specks of people crowding the pool in the distance, the striped umbrellas, white-clad bodies bounding on the tennis courts, the couple stretched out on the blanket with their dog, off in the distance. Everything in the distance.

Instead of politely moving on, the man came around and stood in front of the bench. Looking down on me! Not entirely blocking my view, but almost.

 

Copyright 2007 by Susan Tepper


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