6 Nights of Midnight: 1 – On Fox Street

On Fox Street, there’s a series of apartments that are single rooms with an attached toilet.  Under Fox Street, the toilets are shared.

Typically, four or five or even seven people live in one of these rooms.  They’re actually fairly large, considering, and a few strategically placed bits of plywood or sheets hanging from the ceiling can give you the impression of a sprawling mansion.  At least, when compared with the rooms under Fox Street.

There’s a man, lives alone in one of these rooms.  His neighbors cook for him, bring him choice meals, do his laundry, wash his windows, change the light bulb when it goes out.  They bring him paper, and plenty of pens, so he fills notebooks with foreign words arranged nonsensically and obscure schematic drawings and rhyming couplets and doodling of the girls he hasn’t yet met.

Somehow, the doodled girls show up at his door the following Friday night, or sometimes on a Tuesday afternoon, and sometimes they stay for days.

This man on Fox Street, he doesn’t say much.  He’s polite.  He will say hello, and thank you, and on occasion comments about a particular shade of red he’s seen in the sky.

No one’s sure how old he is.  He shaves twice a day, removing every hair everywhere.  No one’s ever seen him outside his one room apartment.

On Fox Street, this man will show you pages in his notebooks and tell you of his dreams and sometimes share a slice of pie brought to him by Mrs. Fleet.  Mrs. Fleet bakes the pies.  No one knows where she gets the fresh fruits.  She makes her own whipped cream.

It’s dangerous to walk on Fox Street, day or night, if you don’t belong.  It’s dangerous to walk under Fox Street no matter who you are.  They take care of their own on Fox Street.  The shadows have permanent eyes.  Still, burglary is not uncommon, and pickpocketry, and purse snatchery.

No one has ever tried to take anything out of this one apartment on Fox Street, in which the old, hairless man lives.  Rumors persist that thieves break in to leave gifts instead.

Tonight, this old man on Fox Street sings quietly to himself, though the girl on his bed listens to his song and is moved in ways both spiritual and cosmic.

Tonight, this man on Fox Street relates a story to a baker’s daughter about a witch and how to count to a dozen.

Tonight, this old man on Fox Street shares Mrs. Fleet’s pecan pie with a stranger from Barcelona.

And tonight, this old man on Fox Street sketches a face on a page of his notebook, a face with eyes very much like your eyes, and a strikingly familiar bone structure, and a nose that is unmistakably your nose.  He draws the smile you wear now, rather than the expression you’ll show him later.  On Fox Street.

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