by Sherod Santos
A mist had settled over everything.
It was after ten, almost eleven.
A smudgy lamplight overran the curbs
where leaves had started
to gather as well.
Some young people
prowling the neighborhood
were afraid that nothing would happen tonight,
just as nothing
had happened the night before.
Although it was cold,
the boys wore cutoff sweatshirts,
and the girls,
more comfortably dressed for the weather,
kept laughing at things the boys said.
A car turned onto Millbrook Road,
dimmed and then extinguished its lights
before rolling to a stop in the leaves.
When the young people passed,
they banged on the hood with their fists—
the boys, not the girls,
though the girls were amused by this as well—
and frightened the man inside.
Or did they?
The car door opened.
The man stepped out and,
as killers do in Hollywood films,
slipped a hand inside his coat.
And then, in a quiet, almost whisper
of a voice, he said something
none of them could hear,
though how he said it
seemed the thing he said.
Without looking back,
the young people kept on walking,
though faster now,
kicking up leaves as they went.
And when they were finally
far enough away they were sure
the man couldn't hear,
one boy turned and shouted back
"Oh yeah motherfucker,
we're really scared."
And that was that.
One of the girls drew closer to the boy
who'd said those words,
another drew farther away.