As he turned the corner, the subtle feeling of dampness against his face surprised him. Almost like waking from an elusively active slumber. It wasn't raining, but the fog held thick to the street side in a way that made the night swirl like dry ice, but the air around him slightly moist.
Touching his cheek pensively, he carried forward. The street lamps had come on in anticipation of night fall. It wasn't quite night yet. Pockets of light held fast to corners of the sky, trading places with the darkness for that brief moment of intimate role play.
"You can often feel the darkness before you see it," he'd once said to a friend, smoke drifting gently from his middle and index fingers like special effects in an ill-conceived magic show. The friend had nodded, murmuring something breathlessly in not quite silent agreement. They'd been fierce then, harbingers of a quixotic Gandhian truth-force.
The memory made him chuckle as he shuffled forward, his stride marking the distance between cracks in the sidewalk.
Scanning the lots framing the street, he noted the rigid, militaristic nature of each yard. Worker bees had studiously delivered a perfect buzz cut to each lawn, content in the notion that order and sanity would prevail for yet another day. A closer inspection revealed the deep irony of the exercise with the seeds of imperfection woven into the very DNA of each blade of grass.
Futility was part and parcel of our perceptions about beauty.
Exploring, he let his eyes wander up the side of one of the houses. He was able to catch a sliver of the backyard that lay behind as the hedges and gate conspired to cut off his view. It reminded him of the backyard in which he'd played as a boy. The grass had stretched out behind the house for a good 30 feet and was uneven in its leveling creating peaks and valleys perfect for the pounding feet of an obstinate 4-year-old.
The yard backed on to some sort of alleyway that was separated by a giant wooden fence running the length of the property. Cracked and discoloured, the fence wasn't dilapidated, but it looked as though it had spent some time withstanding a considerable force and was none the better for its efforts. He'd often spent hours staring at that fence, wondering just what lay behind it.
Was he barred from entry or protected? It was never made entirely clear.
Nearing the end of the street, he turned to face the fourth house on the left. Swaying lightly, he let his mind's eye trace the familiar stubble of the hewn bricks. Their presence was resolute, unwavering, they winced for no gaze. And the gravelly quality of their aura indicated that they had been fulfilling this role for a very long time. Words were unnecessary.
Mounting the front stoop, his hand reached out and the hesitated as if uncertain about how to proceed. Sighing, he let his finger find the doorbell. His skin brushed the metal of its cover, following the arcs of its Victorian design like a lover's prayer.
The chimes of the bell seemed to reverberate for decades, echoing off the walls of the entrance way and his memory. He could hear his breath whistling through his nostrils and feel it hammering into his lungs as he looked down jamming his hands back into his pockets.
As a light flickered on, he could make out the muffled sound of footsteps descending the stairs to the doorway to meet him.