SmokeLong Quarterly

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The Suspect

Story by Joseph Young (Read author interview) October 15, 2004

You see? He’s alone.


So it makes him suspect.

As if on cue, the crowd along the sidewalk pulled away on both sides, leaving the man within an empty backdrop of brick wall.

Why should they be suspicious?

Well, what kind of a man is alone? One that’s flawed. Unhealthy.

The man turned his back to the street and faced the wall. He placed his hands on the bricks and spread his fingers. As he pushed, he rolled his head slowly around his shoulders.

He’s out for a walk. For exercise.

He’s still alone in a crowd.

The man left the busy sidewalk, crossed at the corner, and cut across the park lawn. As he walked, the crashing of the rock band grew quieter. When he reached the trees on the far, far side, he lit a cigarette and cupped one hand around the smooth brown bark.

While he smoked, he thought of the little girl he’d bought a popsicle for at the 7-11. “Tell the nice man thank you, Brittany! Don’t be so rude.” The little girl curled her nose, glaring at her mother.

“She’s shy,” he said now, to a wasp cutting the air, an empty soda bottle. “It’s okay.”

He finished his cigarette and left the park, strolling slowly. When he got to his house, he stood a moment on the marble landing. He could hear the band playing when the wind blew in his direction. Perhaps I’ll go back and listen some more, he thought, but he didn’t move, just felt the hot evening sun on his arms.

You see? Now he’ll go inside.

Maybe he has a family in there, children.

Yes, maybe he does.

Then he’s okay. He’s all right.

The man drew a heavy breath and climbed the dark stairs, the radio still playing in the kitchen.

No, I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s all right at all.

About the Author

Joseph Young writes microfiction in Baltimore. His work has appeared in Lamination Colony, Wigleaf, FRiGG, Cake Train Grey Sparrow Journal, and others. A volume of his microfiction, Easter Rabbit, was published by Publishing Genius Press in December 2009.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This story appeared in Issue Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Six

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