The Intruder

The Intruder by Peter Blauner

Book: The Intruder by Peter Blauner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Blauner
Tags: Fiction, General
me. Help me. Help me.
    But then the camera-ad light turns green and he hears that lady’s nice voice again. “I’m very worried about you, John.” She cares about him. She wants him to come back. He heaves himself up to his feet and starts staggering toward the bright lights uptown.

Jake and Dana’s son, Alex, is walking home with his best friend, Paul Goldman, just before twelve-thirty that night. They are both dressed slightly grunge, in black Nikes, oversized flannel shirts, and jeans as baggy as potato sacks.
    “So what’d your father say about the nose ring?” Paul asks.
    “He was cool about it.”
    “Ah, that’s cool. Your father’s cool.”
    “Yeah, he’s all right.” Alex puts his hands in his pockets and sighs as if he’s feeling every one of his sixteen years. “But I think I’m going to stop wearing it soon. What if I get a cold and have to blow my nose? It’ll come out three ways.”
    Paul can’t think of an answer, so he keeps walking. “I think I’m gonna shave my head,” he says after a while.
    They are on the west side of Broadway, going past a drugstore full of white light and a newsstand where a frail Pakistani man arranges stacks of gay pornographic magazines.
    “If I shaved my head, would you shave yours?”
    “No way,” says Alex, flicking hair out of his face.
    They keep walking. Paul bows his head and rocks from side to side, mumbling the words to a hip-hop song. “Insane in the membrane, insane in the brain.” Alex has his mother’s straight back but his father’s slightly pugnacious bearing, so that he always seems to be leaning forward on the balls of his feet.
    Paul flips a Turkish cigarette into his mouth as they round the corner and head toward West End. “Can I copy your paper from English?”
    “What? The whole paper? Dude! Didn’t you read the book?”
    “Dude!” says Paul. “I didn’t even know what book it was.”
    “We’re up to the Odyssey.”
    “Huh.” Paul lights his cigarette and immediately starts coughing. “What’s it about?”
    “Dude! That’s so bogus! We spent the last two classes talking about it. What’s the point of going to summer school if you don’t pay attention?”
    “I was spacing, dude.”
    Alex flaps his arms. “It’s about a guy trying to get back to his family after he’s been away twenty years.”
    “Cool,” says Paul.
    They cross West End Avenue, heading toward Alex’s house. The street is dark and lined with parked cars. Right before they get to the front steps, they hear a grunt and look over to see a skinny bearded white man in a Yankees cap and an MTA shirt, taking a leak in the gutter and singing in a cranky wayward voice.
    “I been in the wrong place but it musta been the right time . . .”
    “Yo, the Night Tripper, what’s up?” Paul calls out from twelve feet away. “That’s a golden oldie, bro. My father listens to that shit.”
    The man looks up, dazed and slightly offended. “Ha?”
    “You gotta pardon my friend,” Alex intercedes. “He acts kinda retarded sometimes.”
    Paul punches Alex on the arm.
    But the man doesn’t seem to notice. He trips coming out of the gutter and glares at the boys as if it’s their fault.
    “Where you guys going?” he asks.
    “I live here,” says Alex. “This is my house.”
    In the light of the street lamp, the man’s eyes go up and then suddenly move over to the right. It’s as if he’s picking up some frequency no one else can hear.
    “Is one of you here to see my daughter?” he asks.
    “No,” says Alex.
    “Like, we don’t even know your daughter,” Paul adds, bopping in place.
    Somehow their words don’t make it across the eight feet of sidewalk that separate them from the homeless man. He’s hearing something else entirely.
    “Well, I don’t think that’s right, a girl her age going out with anybody,” he says, completing the non sequitur. “She’s too young. I’m gonna have to talk to my wife in

Similar Books

The Unlucky Lottery

Håkan Nesser

Six Dead Men

Rae Stoltenkamp


River Savage

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder

Livia J. Washburn


Elizabeth Forrest

Skink--No Surrender

Carl Hiaasen