Strangers Reside – The Man on the Outside Looking In
It was Roy's Drive-Thru Liquor. It said so from the tall '80s vintage sign twenty feet in the air. He casually leaned on the sill of the window as he waited for the clerk to return with his spirits.
"Such a peculiar place for a drive-thru window." he thought to himself. "You just walk right up to this one – there's no driveway of any kind, just a broken sidewalk and some dead grass. He looked around. "Come to think of it, is this even legal. I must be breaking some sort of rule and I just hadn't noticed. Do you see any signs? Is it bad to walk up to a drive-thru window without being in a car?" he pondered. "I suppose not, I see homeless people do it all the time. Nothing happens to them. Besides, I'm sure they're just happy to make a sale." he concluded.
His gaze traveled upward and across the street where he noticed a second story window with a light on. "I wonder who could be on the other side of that curtain?" he asked himself as he slid his hand into his coat pocket. "Two lovers in the night? Shi', probably but God only knows for sure." he murmured.
There was suddenly no trace of even the slightest breeze. Things seemed to stand perfectly still, as if time had come to a halt. The night hawks (who aren't really hawks at all) fluttered like bats gobbling-up insects around the street light. This sudden pause had him reminiscing about his old life and how he used to be a man on the inside of a window much like this one. It was a sort of fond memory but at the same time brought about a sort of dry sadness. Maybe he just missed the feeling of having someone to lay next to. He remembered the warmth, the security and the comfort it would bring, and what it felt like to be loved – to be needed. They would lay in bed and when she was done reading she would lean over to pull the chain on the bedside lamp, pause to kiss him on the cheek and say, "Good night, honey."
He snapped to, "Now come to think of it," he realized "When I was on the inside, there was probably someone gazing in on me just like this – as I am tonight – outside my window. Only this time I'm on the outside. I am the man on the outside looking in. This must be some sort of societal flaw, a loop that just keeps going on and on – stuck on replay or something – and now it's my turn." he claimed.
"Our lives are like broken records. Mankind is like a broken record. I just don't get it." he shook his head.
He looked up to find the cashier returning to the window. She handed him a bottle concealed within a brown paper bag. He handed her the money, took the small bag and walked away from Roy's liquor and away from the light in the window.
-Written and illustrated by Titus Castanza