The Man with No Name

A simple man discovers what it means to find true beauty and loses himself in obsession.

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1. A Mere Interruption

It was hard to say what drew him to her in the first place. He fancied himself a simple man and enjoyed the monotony of daily life as he walked to and from work that traced a left and two rights along the great city blocks that marked the map of his day. The man was employed at the bottom level of a great building that towered into the sky and eclipsed the sun that he sought that fateful day. Along his walk, past the vendor selling sub-par coffees and the line of homeless men that sat near the grated and steam-billowing vents holding out their needy cups; there was a small park with 3 trees, two benches, and one faded red jungle gym. Often the man would walk slower past the park and try to breathe in a little more deeply as if to bring some of that cleaner air with him around the corner. His lean and rough hands would flex and he would scan the area for those enjoying life the way it ought to be enjoyed.

That day was much like any other. He washed himself, brushed his teeth, dressed for his simple job, and smiled into the mirror before he left the small and clean apartment on the 4th floor at approximately 8:15 am. His life was the simple addition of numbers collected throughout his day. Instead of taking the elevator he walked down the 40 steps in the echoing stairwell and smiled politely at Ms. Evers as she and her tight jogging suit passed by him-- her with that playful smile and inviting eyes. He nodded to the man with the two dogs that although he could hear occasionally from his apartment he never bothered to learn the name of. He tightened his attractive and simple coat which he had purchased last year shortly after Christmas as he joined the river of humanity on the sidewalk that all moved with singular purpose this early on a Tuesday morning. Many people might not enjoy the jostling, noise, and at times bitter smells of the city but this man loved it. He thought briefly, as he avoided the long line to the modest coffee cart, of the home he left over a decade before in that nowhere location that experienced nothing and smiled at where his fortune had brought him. Sure, his college education had yet to pay off for his big dreams but he was content as a manager of the "little people" and had saved a modest amount in order to live a decent life.

The moment where all of that contentment and happiness seemed to fade came in an instant. He took the well timed deep breath as he passed the first tree at the small park and his eyes admired the curling paint that peeled away from the weather-worn playground and then settled on a form. At first, though there was nothing particularly spectacular about the woman who was crouched down and assisting a small child with a zipper, he appreciated the form of her backside. Although he hadn't married yet or had many girlfriends to speak of, he had an appreciation for humanity and the female form. Almost imperceptibly his walk slowed as he took in her movements. She stood and followed the small boy from one spot to another before sitting and he found himself transfixed. He certainly was happy with his life but something about the graceful way she carried herself across years old gravel and patchy grass commanded his attention in a most unusual way. To this point, well into his 30s, he hadn't considered a lack of a romantic life to be that much of a hinderance. Occasionally he would dally in a fling or two but purposefully chose women to which there was no future. He wasn't interested in the lack of sleep, filth, and smells that often accompanied family life despite whatever happiness that was likely to balance it out. Surprisingly, it were as if none of these thoughts had ever occurred to him as he took in the way the sunlight reflected off of her pinned-up and golden hair. Her graceful hands folded delicately around a book that she glanced up every so often from to view her son. For the first time in his life, admiring from a distance no longer felt like an option.

Closing his eyes briefly, he collected himself and sharply brought his mind back into focus. The tall and handsome man glanced at his expensive watch, which had taken several months to save for, and saw that he was curiously behind schedule to get to work. Without another glance toward the woman within the park, he walked at a quicker pace towards the final right turn that propelled him into the rest of the day.

The remaining days of the work week unfolded much the same. Unlike the days that seemed to lead him up to this moment, the carefully calculating man found his mind unwillingly being drawn to the slender curve of her neck or the delicate arch of her eyebrows that he hadn't to this point been able to examine. He found himself moving a little faster toward the park on the last block of 27th street a little faster on Wednesday, and lingered just a little longer. He refused to admit it to himself, but felt a sharp pang of disappointment when she did not show up, and then an unusual and slightly disconcerting amount of relief fall over his chest like a cool rain as on Thursday he saw that same golden haired woman from a distance. For even as he found himself dreaming of her that night and briefly allowed himself to hope she would be there again on Friday, he found great comfort in the predictability of a pattern. Most of his life had been operated upon a specific and primarily unchanging pattern of the same routine every morning and night. He had experienced a brief share of infatuation before, but found this attraction to feel like a powerful magnet to which he was frequently being drawn.

That Saturday-- a day that he usually took to stay at home after his alarm and complete any minor cleaning that was necessary to maintain order, he prepared as if he were going to work anyway. This time, however, was different. After days of her image driving him to distraction, he had chosen this day to finally observe her up close. He was not afraid of meeting someone or striking up conversation which he often had to do at work with members of his organization but this time was different. As the calculating man he was, he knew that this beautiful creature was likely to be nervous if he were to approach her without cause. He spent the entire morning of preparation considering how best to get close to her without spoiling the moment. He carefully selected an attractive navy sweater to accent his fashionable jeans and aforementioned coat and parted his hair in an acceptable way. He shaved his face as he had done countless times before but this time taking care not to mar his smile which had earned him many compliments from many before. As the standard time arrived he went to his bookshelf and gazed over its contents. After much deliberation he knew that the best way to approach her was to have a book as she had each time he had seen her. He found a short anthology of poetry that was a gift from his mother in years before-- nevermind that he detested the pages of romantic drivel. Then, as he did before leaving the apartment every day, he stopped in front of the small mirror that hung on the wall just beside the thick and multiple-locked door. He smiled at himself and approved of the deep dimples that rested on his trim face and the carefully crafted facial hair. He knew himself to be an attractive man with his warm brown eyes and dark hair, but paused to acknowledge the tightness that was now upon his smile-- a sense of urgency.

His lean legs were crossed patiently as he sat on one of the hard and cold wooden park benches. He opened the book to a random page in the middle and passed his eyes over one sentence, then two before glancing up for her. Once again he found his insides growing tight with anticipation and almost excitement for this moment. The man had imagined this meeting countless times, all ending with her agreement to meet him somewhere later that night. The distraction, which started out with a pleasant warmth in his belly, began to tighten at the edges. This moment that he so carefully crafted, meant to introduce this woman into his life formally and return some of the color that had since faded from his existence, was beginning to be more than a simple meeting of souls. That repeating encounter in his mind was beginning to wear on his nerves, causing a small seed of anxiety in his mind. An anxiety that he was familiar with in High School years but hated within himself-- a sure sign of weakness. It hardly seemed like only days had passed since the first time he had seen her, and already the space that she seemed to take up in his mind had caused him to make small and tedious mistakes at work. He needed to meet this woman whose name he had begun to dream about not only to win her but also to dispel the commotion that had been created in his brain.

"Pardon me, may I sit here?" A light and distinctly female voice asked. He was disrupted from his thoughts and his eyes flew up from his book into the grey eyes that were deeper now than he could have imagined. Her hair, thrown up into a messy ponytail likely due to prioritizing her child over herself, caught the sun in that familiar way and his mind froze for a moment before smiling his warm smile.

"Of course, forgive me." He responded. She smiled a tight and close-mouthed smile before sitting and opening her book, pointing her legs toward the playground where the child jumped from step to step on the way to a slide. At once his senses were heightened and aware of minuscule details, such as the slight perfume of fruit that echoed off of her like sound waves. He sat, careful not to shift too much, watching her up close as he had so longed. He admired her slightly plump and curved legs and the dips and valleys of her chest. He took in the tan coat, jeans, and faded T-shirt and noted that she would look much better in a dress. He listened to her gentle and healthy breathing and the sound of her tucking stray hairs back behind her perfect ears.

The man knew himself to be a creature of habit, and was happy this way. The patterns of life that unfolded before him ensured a long life of various and entertaining pursuits but he knew this was different. He knew that he had, by God's hand, divine intervention, fate, or whatever other ridiculous notion of predestination suited people, that he would live out this new pattern of life as long as he could simply to be near her. No matter what impediments could potentially stand in his way-- he knew he must have her.

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