There was a leopard coiled and ready to spring. I was afraid. The man said not to worry, he lives here, he only sees what he wants to see and you don’t matter. I asked the man what he meant.
“Hey you,” I said.
He laughed and took his hat off revealing a shock of ginger spikes that furled and rippled in the breeze. He walked away shaking his head, the leopard trotted at his side.
“Come back,” I said. “I don’t know who I am. Where is this place?”
He turned back one more time, the leopard kept walking becoming a fine mist, then simply disappeared, a small ring fell to the dusty ground where it had last walked. The man with the orange hair was wearing a jester’s costume. He jingle-jangled his hat and danced, kicking up his heels. He bent and picked the ring up, held it to the dying light of the great big orange sun.
“This is who you are, everything, and now, my dear friend, now, it’s mine. Goodbye.”
He drifted away in the wind. A red balloon floated past bobbing on the sea breeze.
I looked around. My arms were stuck fast to the stake in the ground and all beneath me was waves, crashing waves and rocks, over and over again.
“Ok, back down guys, quietly.” I had to whisper, the others were getting close, too close.
“I need to pee” said Mark Lewis. He always needed to go, even though he’d only just been. The other three boys rolled their eyes and kicked Mark Lewis. I told him to go over by the fence but be quiet.
He got up and started for the fence. We could hear the orbiters whirring into action. I took a peek over the edge of the banking. There they were, big globes with all sorts of weapons and lights, zipping all over the wheat field. One of them suddenly burst into action and came straight for us. We ran as fast as we could. We lost each other.
Once I’d reached the top of the hill, I looked back. There were three of them surrounding Mark Lewis. They all fired at the same time and he was gone, a curling wisp of smoke where he’d stood. From this height I could see the town. It was in flames. I began to cry. I beat the tree stump next to me and pulled out all of my guns. I charged back down the hill, screaming.
The three turned and tracked me. I ran around the hill back toward the small town. I ran through the little forest that bordered the hill and the lake. They followed. Then, I heard it, a small popping sound. I stopped and looked around. I couldn’t see it, still nothing, my heart was hammering. I couldn’t run, my legs like wet clay, heavy and dead.
Then, there it was, dead ahead, the needle, a high pitched screech, it vibrated, pulsed. It waited. I forced myself to run and it came after me. No matter which direction I ran, it kept coming, through the trees, down toward the lake. Still, it kept coming. I was exhausted. I gave up running and it bore down on me. It paused once and then, like a bullet, it hit me. My leg, getting steadily numb, floating up to the rest of me and…
The third involved a case of wine, a stolen Cezanne and a mysterious lady who had shuttered herself away in a villa just outside Bilbao. Her name was Maria, I remember little else but she had a small dog, like a Chihuahua. The dog had the face of a crying baby. The baby never stopped crying. Maria never spoke to the child. On the bed I could see a colorful hat with bells on the end.
I was in a field with the boys, a great leopard strode past. We remarked at how much the leopard looked like Mark Lewis.