79 posts tagged fiction
There was only one road that led in and out of town, and though it was paved, it was decrepit and not wide enough, in any practical or official sense, to handle more than one vehicle at a time. Someone passing through could read Zátyní on the sign standing at the town’s entrance. The same name with a diagonal line running through it was posted a quarter mile down the road to signify that one was already leaving it. There were houses—twelve, thirteen, or fourteen, depending on how one defines a house—lining the sides of the road, sheltering the forty or fifty inhabitants that still called the place home. The town would be a stellar candidate for a Hollywood film about a post-apocalyptic wasteland, zombies, or a nineteenth-century shtetl.
Recognizing the car immediately, the boy instinctively hid on the far side of the house as it approached and finally pulled over and stopped. He looked at the license plate for confirmation. It bore an S at the beginning of the number and a D inside of a blue square on the left, making it probable that it was the same car that had visited last fall. After they’d left he asked his mother what the letters meant, and she told him that they represented where the people came from. But she didn’t know where exactly and simply told him somewhere across the border.
He observed that there were new people in the car this time. Last fall there were two men, one middle-aged and one elderly. This time, the boy noticed as he crouched in his vantage point, obscured by the shrubs and the side of the house, a teenaged boy wearing shorts and a T-shirt got out of the passenger seat and helped the old man out of the backseat. Then a woman got out from the other side of the backseat, and finally the middle-aged man from the driver seat. They moved slowly to accommodate the old man. He bent over as he walked, hooking his arm inside the teenager’s. Last fall, the boy noted, the two men just stood in front of the house, exchanging only a few, unintelligible words. The old man pointed now and again, and the man who was likely his son nodded his head, perhaps signaling that he was listening, perhaps signaling that he understood even.
That was on a Sunday too, the boy remembered. His mom had wanted to go for a walk—something they seldom did, which she claimed was regrettable. So when she’d finally convinced her husband that his mother, who had a room upstairs, was feeling well enough to come along, they fetched their jackets and changed their shoes. That’s when they first noticed the presence that the Mercedes carrying the two foreign men, parked in the exact spot where it was parked now.