Winter Story
After I finished my supper I put on my coat and hat and gloves and went outside. The sleet that was falling was too small to see but I could feel it on my face and hear it hissing everywhere. I walked to a neighborhood where the power was out. Everything was dark except for a gas station that must have had its own generator. Inside I could see people crowding around buying coffee and telling each other how bad the storm was. I started walking back towards my house but I slipped in someone's driveway, biting my lip as I fell. My hat came off and my lip was bleeding but it felt good to be on the ground. I watched a Steak-Out car slide by, then a careful minivan, and then a snowplow. My lip was still bleeding and I sucked on it and noticed that it had dripped blood on the ice in the shape of the letter R. I got up, brushed some snow off my jeans, and started walking again. The houses around me had lights and TVs on, I was back in my own neighborhood. I was colder than when I had started walking, and I wished I had not laid on the ice for so long. A few blocks from my house I was startled to see a centaur lying in the street, his head against a curb. He was wearing a green plaid coat and a gray stocking cap and as I got closer I could tell he was dead, but I got down and put my hand on his shoulder and gave him a shake. There wasn't much snow on his face or beard, he must not have been out there long. I wondered what had happened to him. If he had been hit by a car there would have been blood. A heart attack maybe, but he didn't look old enough. I put my hand into one of his coat pockets and pulled out his keys. When I found his phone I took off my gloves so I could dial 911. I told them someone was hurt and they asked where I was and I told them, and then hung up and threw his phone towards a bush. Before I took his wallet out of the other pocket I looked at his hand laying on his chest and squeezed it reassuringly, apologetically. There was no driver's license but I found an insurance card that said his name was Joseph Pelion, and a picture of two young boys aiming bows and arrows. Their faces looked like his face but the picture only showed them from the waist up, and I wondered if they were humans or if they were like him. Snow was beginning to pile on his face and I brushed it off and put my gloves back on. I heard sirens across town and I went and stood in the shadows of some trees. When the ambulance came I watched the paramedics jump out with a stretcher, look at his body, and then put the stretcher away. They knelt beside him with little lights and instruments and they took off his coat and hat. They tried to lift him into the ambulance but he was too heavy and they started to drag him. I couldn't watch, I looked at the address on his insurance card and started walking. His house was one I had noticed before, near the railroad tracks and with an empty lot beside it. I went and knocked on the door and after a minute I unlocked it with his keys. The house was warm inside. I turned on a light and shut the door behind me. There was no furniture in the room except for some crowded bookshelves and a high table with a TV on it. On one wall hung pictures of the boys from the wallet, here they were posing in baseball uniforms and crouching on diving boards and I could see that they had human legs. In the kitchen several unopened bottles of wine stood on the counter next to a box of oatmeal and a sticky bowl and spoon. There was a room with a large telescope in the corner and a desk covered in newspapers and notebooks and in the closet were heavy jackets, expensive looking shirts, and two rifles leaning against the wall. I found another room with two tidy twin beds and I crawled into one of them and slept. In the morning I remade the bed and locked the house as I left. When I got home I took the picture of the boys with their bows and arrows out of my pocket and taped it to the wall right next to wear I hang my coat.