The night of the election I had been at a coffee shop. Watching with jolts of horror as the numbers jumped and rose and fell.
It wasn’t over.
But the coffee shop had closed. And the numbers looked, except for a very unlikely chance, certain.
I rolled into the dark parking lot slowly. The other cars and the brick of the buildings rolled past. Despite my caution, no one was out. I pulled into my parking spot.
My neighbor’s car sat next to mine. I did a double take.
One of the windows was smashed out.
Maybe I’m old at the beginning of thirty, but he seemed young to me. Early twenties. He worked at a large company nearby and always looked the part. Clean cut, button up shirts. Business like but friendly. He sounded like white people, something I found out as we passed each other, coming and going to our cars, and I squeed over his nerd bumper stickers. Howl’s Moving Castle. Death Note. Star Wars.
His car wasn’t even usually parked over here. It was usually parked over at the edge.
I got out, stunned and thought of something. I walked back to where his car was normally parked.
The spot was empty.
There was shattered glass covering the ground, right below where his window would have been.
The next day, in the cool sun and cold wind blowing through every thing, I visited one of the galleries in town. I had been there so often the owneress had declared me a regular. She had paintings of puppets and people with their guts out and did shows by black artists and ne’er-do-wells. It was refreshingly different from some of the more pompous galleries in town- blandly interesting paintings of farm landscapes, sculptures of corn. Playing local interest and the wealthy tourist sorts.
Ah yes. I was in the Midwest once. On business.
I wanted to ask her advise about something. I was facing a life direction sort of decision, made suddenly urgent.
We chatted for a while before I brought it up. We were both horrified by the results of the election. Shaken, if the tears in the back of my throat and the added wet brightness of her eyes was anything to go by.
I’d stepped into a Starbucks earlier. Hefty white people, laughing and talking loudly about their daily lives. Enthused.
“Oh, he texted me!” She was sitting on the couch doing a charcoal drawing and watching her phone at the same time. She was waiting for a buyer to show up. A round comfortable shape in a room plastered with colored squares. Someone from Africa was asking her if what they were hearing was true. The hate crimes blossoming in news feeds already. Only the morning after.
“I tried to describe it to him.” She waved her pencil. “It’s hard to explain about election cycle reporting, how the media plays the most shocking things for ratings.”
The night of the election. I went and sat back down in my car and tried to think what I should do. The parking lot was full of cars. And distinctly empty of people. And quiet. So quiet.
I had been living here like a hermit. No one over, talking to no one. My subliminal assumption is that I’m some kind of freakish abomination, so I general cut out the unpleasantness for us all and avoid people.
Finally I decided that I would rather try and fail then wonder and got out and went over and knocked.
His light was on, but there was no answer. I waited a little. Fair enough. This is a bad night, all around.
The next day, when I got home from work, the window had been replaced.
After the weekend, a different car is sitting in his parking spot.