Winter Shuffle

He shuffled along the slushy sidewalk. His feet were wet and cold. His shoes had tears at the heels. The snow fell lazily about him. It was late in the evening and the sidewalk hadn’t been shovelled in hours. It was dirty brown covered in light white. The street hadn’t been cleared either. A previously shovelled snowbank lined the curb. He was cold.

He stopped in front of the cinema and stood under the overhang. He put his suitcase down and wiped the snow off it. He took his battered toque off and slapped it against his thigh. A few flakes fell to the ground. He stamped his feet, and a few more flakes disappeared. He looked at the movie poster in the window beside the unused ticket seller’s booth. It was from the 1945 film noir, Edgar Ulmer’s “Detour”, a good, creepy film as he remembered, starring Tom Neal and the deliciously-named Ann Savage. Inside the cinema were other posters, from other old classic films, some of which he vaguely remembered. He hadn’t been in a cinema for many years.

He sensed something behind him and turned. A cop car was cruising slowly, nowhere to go. He sighed and shook his head slightly. The cop car stopped, and the solitary officer looked at him.

He put his toque back on, stretched his tired back, picked up his suitcase, a grip it was once called, and moved on. He was cold. He passed closed stores: a hair salon, a shoe shop, a convenience store, an alley, a falafel take-out joint, and an empty space. He was at the corner. The cop car was at the corner.

He waited and the cop car strolled on. He watched it go, then turned up the street.

The sidewalk hadn’t been cleared here all day, it looked to him. He kicked the snow as he dragged his feet. Snow fell through the sprayed light of the working street lights. The first streetlight hurt his eyes, the second didn’t. There was one more functioning streetlight after that, and then nothing.

He hummed an old blues tune. He was cold.

The first three houses on his right were dark; it was, after all, a time of year when people went away to visit family and friends.

The fourth house was lit up and he could hear an off-key version of “Silent Night” coming from it. Red, blue, and white lights winked at him.

The next house had no outside lights but light came from within. He saw three people standing in the living room, holding drinks. A man suddenly doubled over, apparently laughing, but he couldn’t hear it. He moved on.

No other houses on the street, on either side, had lights on.

He shuffled on up the street, into the gaping darkness.


Photography Credit: Jason Rice

Bill Kitcher’s stories, plays, and comedy sketches have been published and/or produced in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, and the U.S. Recent stories were published in Spank The Carp, Little Old Lady Comedy, Defenestration, Spinozablue, Fugitives & Futurists, Inklette, Black Petals, and Slippage Lit, and he has stories forthcoming in New Contrast, Close To The Bone, The Bookends Review, Eunoia Review, Evening Street Review, The Sirens Call, and 2 stories (one co-written) in the Horrified Press anthology, “Twisted Time”.