The Man at Midnight

The man lurked by the alley. He was average in almost every way; medium height, build, and features. The only distinguishing characteristic was hidden under long hair and a hat. The sun had set hours ago, and he became more and more excited with each passing minute.

The man stuck his hand into his pocket and fingered the handle of the knife he kept there. Tonight’s the night, he thought. Weeks of planning, of following, of observing; they all culminated with this night.

The man knew her schedule by heart. On Wednesdays, she walked the eight blocks to her friends house. She stayed there for a few hours, and got home between eleven and twelve at night. Always slightly intoxicated.

The man shuddered in an anticipation, and looked at his watch. Ten minutes until midnight, she would walk by soon. The man had watched her leave the house that day, he knew what she was wearing and how she looked. She looked beautiful, like always. She was the most beautiful woman on earth, in his opinion.

The man stepped away from the entrance of the alley and stretched. As he did, the man turned in a slow circle, checking the street in both directions. Just a few passing cars, and a loud group of guys a block up, the area seemed deserted. He sat on the cold ground next to the entrance, and slouched over.

The man was not particularly well dressed. He was not in rags either, but he could imitate homelessness with the right attitude. The man tried to position himself perfectly, to appear harmless and inconsequential at the same time. The woman was a good person. The man knew this more than anyone else. He had watched her give more than most to those she passed on the sidewalks.

The man checked his watch once more. Four minutes until midnight. Doubts began creeping into his head. Why hasn’t she passed yet? What if she changed her plans? What if something happened to her? The man gripped his knife in anger. If someone hurt her, I swear to God they’ll pay.

The man sat still for a few minutes, imagining the vengeance he would wreak on her assailants. She would surely embrace him then. They would live together for the rest of their days, grow old with each other. He snapped out of the mild trance and returned to his vigil. The man monitored the street, hoping and praying she would come soon. To his thrill, she did.

The man’s heart started to pound. He fingered the knife in his pocket with excitement. The woman approached. 20 feet. 10 feet. 5 feet. The man let out a long low moan. She stopped in front of him. The man kept his head bowed, as she unzipped her purse. She held out a folded bill, and he acted.

The man siezed her outstretched wrist and pulled himself up. She started to speak but he cut her off, unfolding his knife. She dropped her purse.

The man spoke calmly and quietly. He told her to not scream. He didn’t want to hurt the woman, but screaming limited his options. The woman started trembling; shaking like a leaf. The man professed his love to the woman, right there on the street. Naturally, the woman was confused and rejected his feelings.

The man fell to the ground as the woman kicked him in the crotch. She ran away, screaming as loud as she could for help. The woman made a beeline for her apartment, just a scant few blocks away.

The man intercepted the woman before she arrived. He grew angry at her, and hit her. She began to cry, and became even more furious. The man cut the woman with his knife, and then-

The woman grabbed the man’s head. They were still and silent for several minutes. They then broke apart with a gasp. The man looked at the woman, and the woman looked at the man.

The man was gone though. Only the woman remained.