Thursday, September 25, 2014

THE STRANGER

She does this thing with her eyebrows — several quick up-and-down wiggles, sometimes finishing with a little curl of a smile that betrays nothing of what she's thinking.

"You're an odd one," I note.

"You're an odd one," she shoots back, no hesitation, but instead of sounding like an echo it's a fresh lick, like the jabs I remember from boxing. It reminds me that I know nothing about this person other than the bio, and even that offers little insight.

A lifetime of reporting has made it easy for me to peg people. Most everyone fits a type. It's not much different than high school, really. Geeks and jocks, brainiacs and grunts, cheerleaders and poseurs — people usually fit into one of the ancient tribes, like soda bottles rattling along an assembly line, filled with Coke and Sprite and Crush. The colors and flavors may vary but it's all just sugar water.

She sips her soda through a straw as her hands Vanna White the cup. "I'm serious about my Dr. Pepper."

This one I can't peg.

"Sometimes I wake up and if I don't make myself go back to sleep I'll stay awake and listen to my heart pound," she says, her face a placid sky, her eyes unclouded.

"Thinking about that man you killed?"

"Shh," she cautions. "You're not supposed to talk about that."

Finally I ask: "Who are you?"

"Me? Me," she declares. The eyebrows wiggle. "Who are you?"

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