Post Classifieds

Heat Wave part VI

The mysterious man is more than he appears

By Matthew Draughter
On March 13, 2014

By the time the puff of smoke blew up into the sky, the shadow of the man in the tree had vanished as if he evaporated into the atmosphere. Keziah ducked down in the reeds of the bayou, hoping her hair would blend in with the weeds. She could still feel his presence - his body, his eyes.
The moon hung in the sky as Keziah gazed at its reflection. She felt cold for the first time in days; a slight chill sat with her as she huddled behind the shivering reeds. She knew it was time to leave.
She backed out of the water, checking back over her shoulder, trying to find the man. Nothing. She'd reached the threshold between the swamp and the lake and she glanced through the trees, searching for a clear path. But then, when Keziah placed one foot in front of the other to commence her journey, she felt a warm, damp breath on her neck.
Goosebumps erupted from her shoulder blades to her fingers as her eyes widened like the moon. She didn't move.
Keziah felt a sudden sensation of heat wrap around her, gripping onto her legs.She started to rise slowly, losing control of her limbs, engulfed in a sea of warmth as she fought whatever was holding her horizontally in the air. The force tilted her head up and she felt like a hog on a platter waiting to get an apple shoved in its mouth.
She heard faint footsteps moving toward her slowly and smelled the burning of tobacco. She could feel his mouth pulling in smoke as he motioned toward her, the tip of his cigarette aglow in the still air. It sounded like the rustling of leaves.
Keziah panicked as she could see the man getting closer to her. The bright orange dot from his cigarette lit up once more, then vanished as he tossed it aside - she didn't hear the exhale. That's when she felt a jolt from behind her, pushing her closer to the man in the distance, and as she hovered through the air, their eyes locked, inches away from one another.
His irises swam with many different forces - they were green one second, then yellow, then green again. Watching them change was like watching ocean waves sway back and forth. She lost herself in the colors as the heat dissolved. Then she was greeted by a puff of smoke as the binding forces dropped her in a bed of leaves.
He was tall. His top hat looked like it had been eaten by moths and his pants barely fit him. He peered over her as she lay in the bed of leaves, not even extending an arm to help her up.
"How did you do that?" She asked as she looked up at him. He turned away, walking back into the swamp.
"Just how you moved the gumbo. And the car," he called, looking back at her over his shoulder. "Come on. There's a lot you need to know."
Keziah trailed hesitantly behind him. What did she need to know?
They stopped in the middle of the swamp, a place where Keziah walked with her grandmother all the time. They could hear footsteps drawing near to them, and the man held out his hand. The footsteps drew nearer, accompanied by flashlights.
Finally, Keziah grabbed his hand and a funnel of leaves and twigs spun around them. She could feel a warmth surrounding them as their two bodies drifted off the ground, vanishing in the midst of the trees.
He took her back to her grandmother's house, where three police cars sat, illuminating the swamp with their lights. They knelt amidst the trees.
He whispered to her: "Can you meet me back at the lake tomorrow?"
She looked at him, unsure.
"Can you?"
"Yes. What time?"
"Wait until your grandmother's asleep. Then, leave this outside your window." He spun up a wind-chime and placed it in her hands. She nodded.
Keziah skipped from out of the bushes, passed the police cars and knocked on the front door. Her grandmother swung open the door and smothered her in her arms.
But Keziah's attention wasn't on her grandmother. She peered out from the corner of her eye towards the bush - she could still see his green eyes hidden in the trees.When she blinked, he vanished into the shadows, leaving behind a dying funnel of leaves.
Matthew Draughter can be reached at mcdraugh@loyno.edu 


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