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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Smiling Man

This email got sent to me by accident. I don't know what the hell it is.
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From: S.T. <saphirewaves@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Mar 6, 2013 at 1:19 AM
Subject: I hate it here
To: C. Thompson <cthompson@gmail.com>

Dear Cindy,

You told me four years ago moving downtown was a bad idea. I've always been a night person, and the city is nothing but nightlife, so I figured it was perfect. But you knew how shy I've always been. I should have listened.

I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I'd go for long walks and think about nothing.
I spent the past four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed a month ago.

It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a week night, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. As usual, the park was completely empty.

I turned down a side street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. I could just make out the silhouette of a man dancing at the far end of the street. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each "box" with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking. And he was headed straight for me.

Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky, and wearing a suit stained gray by age. He danced closer still, until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking aimlessly into the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon smile. Between the eyes and the smile, I decided it was best to cross the street before he danced any closer.

I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had ceased dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.

I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again, but kept my eyes on the man. He didn't move. Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty. Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. I let out a relieved sigh that was cut short when I noticed he had followed me across the street. I was surprised at how quickly he managed to dance along my trail. I couldn't tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I knew he was facing me.

I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tip toed steps, as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly. His wide smile remained listlessly aimed at the sky.

I'd like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn't. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.

And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.

When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, "What the fuck do you want?!" in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper, "What the fuu…?"

Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn't react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.

And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight. I started to calm down, but then I realized he wasn't moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as his face dropped its aim towards me. The distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.

I ran too.

I ran until I was off of the side road and back onto a road parallel to the park. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.

It's been a month since that night, and I haven’t been out for a walk since. My roommate thinks it's funny how much a drunk person fucked with my head. But there was something about his face that still haunts me. He didn't look drunk, he didn't look high. He looked completely and utterly insane.

My roommate is out tonight. I don’t even want to go out with her anymore. I do enjoy hearing stories of her revelry though, and I think I hear the doo:):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)
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Adapted from The Smiling Man. All credit should be given to reddit user blue_tidal.

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