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My commonplace abode was unnoticeably located on 34th Avenue. It was, in fact, in plain sight; but it was one of the many dull apartments lining the busy city street out front, and all the apartments were similar: some sort of faded, reddish brick, four or six stories tall, shaped like a boring right-side-up rectangle and covered with square windows on the front. Out of every window you were treated to a lovely view of the mundane sidewalk out front, along with a sparse scraggly tree here and there attempting to grow in the small space it was planted in a tiny patch of dirt between the buildings and concrete. There were the metal garbage cans that only enhanced the typical residential street of a busy city, and the constant whir and hum of cars coming and going on the street out front day and night.
I can’t say the interior of my apartment was any more exotic and exciting than the exterior. No matter how hard my mother tried, the excess amounts of flourishing floral furniture and accents in the living room did nothing to distract from the old and rather soiled cream walls, and the attempted elegance in the dining room that contained an undeniably hideous cracked and chipped chandelier helped not at all in erasing the depressing mood set by the faded, forest green striped wallpaper that graced the perimeter of the room. The kitchen shall remain unmentioned, and if kitchen’s had souls, I would indeed bless it, and the bathroom… well, the bathroom is unmentionable as well and could not possibly contain a soul.
My bedroom was the plainest room in the house. I didn’t bother trying to alter the pre-destined fate of it to be unashamedly naked of anything interesting or intriguing; instead I accepted its state of being, for at least my homework was easy to accomplish in a timely manner since the room was void of any sort of distraction. The view from my window was the same as every other in the house (excluding the few back ones that looked out on a dingy patch of dead grass that was a sad excuse of a yard), which was a view of the busy street out front and a sidewalk. And I liked that sidewalk. It wasn’t as good as a park, or a lake, or a forest as some people can see out their bedroom window; but for me, it sufficed.
To other members of my family and residents of apartments above and below us, the people that passed by every day on the sidewalk were undoubtedly ordinary, if they were even noticed enough to be titled as such. To the average onlooker, they were just normal, uninteresting people that walked by on the sidewalk every day. But to me, they were fascinating, extraordinary people that walked by on the sidewalk every day.
I wouldn’t say I spent most of my time at my bedroom window watching people pass by on the sidewalk, but I’d taken note of a few regulars that faithfully walked past my apartment. I’d created romantic and tragic lives for these particular people; I knew who was secretly this and that, and I liked to think I knew them better than anyone else, even themselves; but I often forgot my wild and outlandish imaginings were most likely quite inaccurate. Nonetheless, I continued to watch them and weave tales and lives for them in my mind.
There was a man that passed by every morning before school at exactly 6:23 a.m. He always wore a baseball cap, a denim jacket no matter how hot or cold it was, and dirty tennis shoes. But the thing that stood out to me most was his eyes. The first time I saw his eyes, I determined that they were very sorrowful eyes. And I determined they were sorrowful because he had lost his brother.
He had had a twin brother he loved dearly, and this twin brother had lived with a physical ailment that made him unable to care for himself. So, this man had devoted his life to caring for and attending to his sibling, and this made the man quite happy, because it gave his life purpose. The boys’ parents had passed away a few years apart after the boys’ had turned 20, and because the man always took care of his impaired brother, he never had many friends. But after the brothers turned 31, the sick one died. And suddenly, the other brother was alone. He had no purpose any longer. No one to turn to. No one who needed him anymore. No one who relied on him. He was lost. So I called him The Lost Man.
A rather eccentric elderly woman passed by on the sidewalk most evenings between 7 and 8 o’clock. She always wore high heels, a cocktail hat, and a type of suit skirt and blazer. She was always walking a perky little snow white terrier, and her face was always sour and pompous, and I could tell she was secretly longing for something and someone she had lost long ago. And that something and someone had not died, but merely left; and this woman deep down was being consumed alive by regret and self-condemnation.
The something was her youth. She hadn’t aged gracefully; on the contrary, she’d aged in a day once she’d lost the someone. The someone was her lover; her sweet, unselfish, wise young lover. She had lost her lover because she was a selfish, haughty, fickle and foolish girl who was as serious about most of her admirers as they truly were about her. Her and her admirers cared only for social status and outward beauty, but her sweet, unselfish, wise young lover was the opposite.
He wasn’t attractive, but quite commonplace; yet someone his inner goodness shined through and illuminated his simple outward appearance. This is what attracted the woman, even though she didn’t know it until it was too late, and she decided she could and would have much fun with this young man. She flirted, she played, and she enjoyed herself. But when the time came and the woman decided to heartlessly leave the good man for a while to frolic with another, he wouldn’t have it. While he’d been with her, he had tried to show her how to be honestly loving, honestly unselfish, and honestly good. But the woman had only used him because she believed he was gullible underneath his goodness. However, he wasn’t; and after he’d left, the woman realized her folly and was too ashamed to try to win him back, convincing her poor self that he wanted nothing to do with her and she had ruined her life. Perhaps if she had simply found him and apologized, she would be living a happy life now. I called her The Hopelessly Proud Woman.
Then there was the couple that walked past every Friday night under the street lights, holding hands, the man carrying a briefcase, the woman always hiding her free hand in the pocket of her black trench coat. I would occasionally open my window and strain to hear what they were saying, but even though they passed by after the clashing and clamor of cars and people had died down, they always spoke in hushed and barely audible voices. I was always half scared of the couple, because I knew the woman had her hand on a gun in her pocket and that the briefcase was filled with money or some sort of top secret delivery.
They man worked for a spy organization. They had taken the woman, an enemy, as a hostage years ago. The woman had developed a type of Stockholm syndrome, and the man had helplessly fallen in love with her. After a lengthy process that took months, the couple got married, and became partners working for the same organization.
The woman had insight into the organization’s enemy’s operations, since she had previously worked with them, and together her and her husband were frequently sent to make trick transactions with the enemy. The woman was thought by her previous organization to have been freed, and they had no clue whatsoever she’d married her captor, therefore they whole heartedly believed she had simply befriended and fooled the opposing organization. The transactions she made with her previous organization were believed by them to be pieces of a plot to destroy the other, but in reality they were the opposite. It was really a brave and daring commitment on the couple’s part, especially the woman’s, to undertake and agree to such a plan, considering at any given moment the enemy could discover the plot and kill her. These two were called The Deceitful Lovers.
My commonplace abode was unnoticeably located on 34th Avenue. It was, in fact, commonplace, dull, mundane, plain, simple, uninteresting and unexciting. But every now and then, faithfully on time, a splash of rainbow color, quite extraordinary, exciting, exotic, interesting and fascinating would appear outside my bedroom window. These colorful and vibrant momentary Saviors from my dreary world were named The Lost Man, The Hopelessly Proud Woman, and The Deceitful Lovers. And these were my sidewalk people.