Waiting Canals – 5

The two men had started walking shoulder by shoulder along the center of the cobbled street. After a few yards, Walters slowed his pace but Jameson didn’t. Having Walters walking behind him didn’t seem to bother Jameson. Walters, however, felt much more at ease following Jameson, counting his steps.

From the street one couldn’t see the canals that run on the other side of the two lines of houses, even if you tried to do so by looking through the open windows and all the way throughout the inside of the houses. No one else was in sight along the street, as usual. There were several cheap cars parked on the curbs. They belonged to the people living in the adjacent houses, since only residents ever made it to this street. One of those cars had been set on fire months ago. Its burnout skeleton was likely to remain on the same spot for many more months to come. Anytime Walters walked by this burned car he would run his finger against one of the deformed doors and then rub the ash on the palm of his other hand, drawing a circle.

Walters was surprised when Jameson didn’t seem to notice the burned vehicle as he passed by it. He started to move closer to the car with the intention of collecting some soot on his finger, but he stopped three feet away from his target. A blue fox with black eyes was sitting on the remains of the back seat, looking straight at him. Several patches of its back and sides were blackened and grimy, but the intense sky-blue fur shined in many spots. Its black eyes kept holding Walters gaze in a tranquil stare. Walters wasn’t sure, but he thought that he had seen that same fox in several places across town. Maybe the fox recognized him? He couldn’t remember if all foxes were so blue. What would happen if he tried to pet the fox on his head, right behind his ears? Her ears, perhaps? Yes, Walters though, she looked like a mother. He thought about getting closer and having a better look inside the car and maybe spot a cub, but the mother was unlikely to like that.

“What are you doing?” Jameson yelled down the street.

Walters didn’t reply but got in his way again. He repeated “blue fox” in his mind several times, but his attention soon faded and forgot all about it. He liked the intense green of the grass growing between the cobblestones, the sad red of the building bricks, the dangling pennants left from a forgotten party and discolored by many suns, the smooth surface of the cobblestones. He liked to whistle no particular song. He looked up and saw no seagulls. He didn’t think about it, but he loved the shrilling shrieks of seagulls fighting for a piece of fish. And so many cobblestones when one thought about it!

“Are you ok?” Jameson asked when Walters got to him.

Walters looked up, recognized Jameson and nodded. They kept walking, side by side for a while. After turning to the right, they stepped onto the sidewalk, which soon led to a large park.

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