A Suburban Damascus

Through a limitless fog, on uncomfortably formulaic streets, I saw a man.

I had gone out to find some chicken nuggets, and stood now confused outside the 7-11 in the dark, wishing I had not walked all this way to find that they didn’t have any. In my arms, I held the Doritos whose charms had seemed irresistible at the time.

It was too late for this. In the middle of considering a dreadful compromise with a frozen taquito, I saw him.

A crumpled man in a pink windbreaker two sizes too large. He clutched a cardboard sign under one arm, windbreaker tucked into himself, and wore a beard that had long ago overwhelmed his face. That, or the beard wore him.

He shuffled along, at a steady pace, hands crumpled around a greasy wrapper of something, something warm and fresh-grilled, that only his own wisdom could divine the nature or value thereof. I wondered.

As he crossed the street into a dark and empty park, he brushed the swing-set with something like fondness. Just before he turned behind the old elementary school, to pass out of sight and mind forever, he turned, and fixed me with a stern eye.

He stared at me. I stared at him. He raised his crumpled paper, dripping with molten cheese and day-old lettuce, and I knew. Whatever he held, I needed.

I picked up my Doritos, and followed him.

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