There is this man that walks. And walks. And walks. I have watched him for the last few years as he strolls up and down the long highway that borders my house. He is tall and lean with a long, confident stride and golden hair that undulates down his back and swirls obediently around his face. He wears black boots with sturdy heels that gleam on even the cloudiest of days and his eyes are tiny slits of cubic zirconium sharpness that pierce the dense Portland fog. His wardrobe is colorful but he most often wears a purple suit - not quite long enough to cover his ankles - and a dark coat that flaps behind him like a cape. Sometimes he walks with others who scurry to keep up with him, but mostly he walks alone.
As he wanders down that stretch of road day after day I wonder where he goes and who he meets. With a visage like his he must be a god, a superhero, an alien, or the roadie for a local band. My curiosity would not let it go and several times I tried to follow but always...always he evades me, swallowed up by the Oregon mist somewhere between Game Stop and Wendy's.
I tried to share my conviction with my husband and my mom, hoping to enlist them as allies in uncovering the true identity of this demi-god. I spoke in great detail about his flaxen locks and his shiny boots and the fact that he is always walking. "A man like that could surely take public transportation," I tell my husband who gives me a courtesy shoulder shrug and a kiss on the cheek before returning to his corn nuts and Sportscenterns. My mother is no help either. She returns my enthusiasm by asking me if I had seen the lady doctor lately. Feeling deflated by my support system I gave up hope of ever meeting Mister Goldenhair in person.
Until last week.
While doing my last round of holiday shopping I spotted him, weaving through the parking lot of Big Lots. His hands were pushed deep into purple pockets and his head hung reflectively low. He propelled towards his destination, as shoppers and sea gulls cleared a path. Quickly, I tossed my packages into the car, only breaking a couple of gifts. Presents could be replaced, but a chance to see where a supernatural being hung out could never be recouped.
I pursued, trying very hard to camouflage in with the shopping carts, minivans, and decorative hedges along our route. He didn't seem to notice my presence as he strode forward - I think prophets are used to being followed. Only once he stopped to gaze up at the sky, perhaps to ponder the beauty of the world or to ask that his cup be taken from him. I looked up at the sky too, to see what he was seeing, only to be defiled by an errant sea gull. By the time I recovered he had moved on. I frantically glanced around the parking lot in time to catch a glimpse of cascading yellow curls and a black cape entering a small store at the back corner of the strip-mall.
Curious. I had never seen this little store nestled into a tight corner off the main street. Excited, I rushed forward, ignoring the rain and the break lights of SUVS. Who else would I find inside? This could very well be our town's own League of Justice. As I got closer I noticed a sign above the establishment: Enrique's Carniceria.
I furrowed my brow. Carniceria? I had heard this word before. A carniceria was a place where meat was sold. I looked up again to confirm that I had read this right, and looked back down to ensure that this was the door the man had gone through. There was no denying it. He had come through this door. My brain did a scan of all the possible reasons he could be there. Though I ate meat I couldn't believe that he did. That was too ordinary. Too human. The nearest image I could conjure up of him eating anything was a picture of him munching on a dandelion, sitting cross-legged, meditating in a field. Something just didnt jibe.
Entering the store I looked around. Sure enough there was meat. And lots of it. Meat displayed in cases, hung from hooks, stored in see-through freezers. An excited butcher waved to me as several shoppers picked out cuts to take home. A person in a sausage mascot outfit strode past me and out the door. But the golden haired man was gone. Defeated, I slumped out of the building, back through the parking lot, and into my car. I stared at the packages on the seat next to me and tried to regain my holiday spirit, but it wouldn't come. The man I had been seeking for so long had vanished and I was alone.
I started up the car and bounded out of the lot and onto the road. The light at the intersection jumped from green to red, skipping yellow altogether. I sat there, thinking of life, staring into that same grey sky I had shared with the stranger and a rogue gull just minutes before. The light turned green and my foot reached towards the gas when I noticed what looked like a piece of black ice in my right peripheral. I did a double take, pushing on the break, as drivers called out obscenities behind me. His shoe! I would recognize those beautiful onyx boots anywhere! I had found him.
My gaze moved upwards. He wasn't wearing his majestic purple suit or his celebrated coat-cloak. Instead he donned the simple garbs of a smiling sausage. He held an Ipod in one gloved hand and in his other he held a sign that read Carniceria
I watched him, realizing that I should be disappointed. All of the months I had built up my story about him had led me to this. There was no bat cave, no mother ship, no sermons in sporting complexes. He was just a simple man with a simple job. But I wasn't sad. I had seen him walk. I had watched those long, confident legs pace the highway each day with purpose. I had witnessed how heads bowed and pigeons parted before him. No, I wasn't sad. In my head he was still a sage, a prophet, a philosopher, or something greater. Even superheroes need a day job. I pushed on the gas and drove home.