Monday, January 4, 2010
The Boy in the Red Sweater. Part 2.
Yesterday I met a boy wearing a red sweater while walking down a mysterious lane outside of Cloverdale. The boy intrigued me. I was curious about his identity, who his parents were, and why his small community was so secretive.
I was hungry for more information and decided to attempt another encounter by trailing Cloverdale's mailman as he made his daily deliveries. According to my friends at the Pub, a young boy wearing a red sweater picks up the mail every day from the community's dozen or so mailboxes posted side by side on Highway 3.
I finished my morning's responsibilities and parked my car near the "Welcome to Cloverdale" sign on Highway 3. I waited for the mailman. He's punctual so I knew the wait wouldn't be long. At exactly 2:35 P.M. the blue and white mail truck drove by. I followed as the mailman made several stops to fill the roadside mailboxes. After a mile or two I began feeling foolish. Here I was, a grown man, following a mail truck so I could get another glimpse of a resident of The Twilight Zone. I pulled to the side of the road to turn around for home when I saw the boy's red sweater in the distance. He was walking alone down the lane with his hands in his pockets.
The boy stopped near the mailboxes and waited for the mailman. I didn't want to be noticed so I parked on the road's shoulder about 100 yards away. The mailman got out of his truck, dropped the mail into each mailbox, waved at the boy and jumped into this truck to drive away. The boy watched him closely, staying motionless until the mailman was out of sight. Only then did he step cautiously forward. He hesitated for a moment before stepping off the gravel road and onto the asphalt. He walked toward the mailboxes, then saw my car. Our eyes met for a moment. He paused in mid step, turned slightly and walked towards me.
My heart beat an African tribal rhythm, beating faster and faster the closer he came. I instinctively locked the car's doors. Common sense urged me to drive on. Curiosity begged me to stay. My curiosity won and I nervously waited.
He stopped next to the front passenger door and bent down to peer in. Our eyes met. There was no smile, no joy, not even the slightest spark of curiosity. He just stared. I accepted the challenge and stared back. Our eyes locked in mortal combat. A minute later I noticed the first signs of a headache. The pain grew worse as the seconds passed. I felt something dripping from my nose. I broke his gaze to look into my rear view mirror. I had a bloody nose. I found a small dust rag in my glove compartment and held it to my nose. My eyes were off the boy for a few seconds. When I looked up again he was gone. I found him down the road gathering the mail. It was amazing how he covered that distance in just the moment my eyes were off his.
I started the car, made a U turn onto Highway 3 and started back for Cloverdale. My headache disappeared along with the nose bleed a few moments later. I was left again with unanswered questions and a curiosity that wouldn't let me leave this matter alone. This boy in the red sweater and I would meet again - that I was sure of.