Theresa Catharina de Góes Campos

If he is left alone - dangerous or not?

A short story

(Fiction or reality ?)

In a poorly-lit room, a man of perhaps thirty eats while watching the news on television. People are fighting violently on the screen, but he shows little interest. A few minutes later, after finishing his meal, he decides to get rid of the garbage. He opens the door and there, in the hallway, he sees the bloodied face of a young man being beaten by three others.

Having no desire to become involved, he slams the door. The battered teenager pounds at several doors, trying to find a way out. Although everyone is aware that something is amiss, all doors remain closed. Confident now that no one is going to interfere, the trio laugh at their victim's vain attempts to escape. Inside his apartment, the man returns to watching television, as if unaware of what is happening.

Early the next morning he slowly opens his door and, after looking in all directions, leaves his apartment. He safely disposes of the garbage and drives off, heading for one of his favorite parks. En route he comes across the accident. A girl, whose arms appear to be injured, is attempting to free her companion who got pinned within the car. She sees the approaching vehicle and screams for help. He slows down hesitantly, stopping just to tell her to call the police, then speeds away.

A summer day warms the campsite, like a dream for the ones who would like to forget winter will come again. Hundreds of people are eagerly enjoying the nice weather. Some even give the impression of rushing, for fear of missing short-lived fun. Parents who never seemed to relax, close their eyes to receive the blessing of the sunshine, without giving any thought to bills or rising costs. Children feared to be hyperactive in the heat of the city, now sit for hours, building with sand and little rocks.

The man chooses a spot well away from the others, in order to enjoy his solitude, his indifference and desire to remain free from other people's problems. No troubles, no laughs shared either. A firm, personal policy of no questions asked.

A striking sunset, a rainbow good evening from nature. Two girls approach the area where the uncommitted man has put up his tent. They frolic and laugh, attempting to draw him out of his loneliness. They try several ways of establishing a conversation. He again chooses to ignore their efforts and takes refuge in his tent, clearly preferring the company of his radio.

The wind had been telling the trees, for the last three days, that winter is definitely coming on time. The campsites are not as crowded, though many groups still enjoy common activities all day long.

Back within the safe confines of his temporary quarters, the man lies awake inside his sleeping bag. His mind wanders back to a sign at the entrance of the Provincial Park which reads, "No animal here is dangerous if it is left alone."

He is still thinking, suddenly realizing it is not the same with human beings. He just remembered reading something about the unexpected, odd behaviour of lonely people...a potential danger to society, like a hurricane not preceded by a warming forecast.

He did sleep after all...but not before he cried for hours.

Theresa Catharina de Góes Campos