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Itch
"You have to see this. It's the weirdest thing."
"How often does he go by?"
"I don't know, once a week, maybe. I've been watching for him since I noticed this. He doesn't have any predictable routine. Not that I've noticed anyway. Maybe he walks on some regular schedule, but doesn't always go the same way. It's always at about this time of night though, in about ten minutes."
"If he shows."
"Yeah."
"I can't quite imgine that this is happening the way you describe it. Weird might not be the right word for it. Are you sure you weren't high?"
"It works, and I _wasn't_ high. It has been a few times now and it works _every_ time, so far anyway. It's freaky."
"Well, we'll see."
"I was going to wait and see if I could do some more kinds of tests or something, but I can't take this anymore and had to get you to see this."
"So, how many times _has_ it been?"
"Three so far."
"It has worked absolutely, every time, no 'maybe a little bit's or stuff like that?"
"Every time."
"How the heck did you discover this?"
"I like to hang out here late at night, listening to the sounds and stuff. There is no traffic here at the end of the street, dead end, you know, so it's nice and quiet. Wind in the trees and screens, white-noise of main street, tree frogs, the occasional jet--"
"Yeah, yeah, but you are usually high."
"Well, yeah, but not this time. I was just hanging in the dark and I saw him pass under that streetlight over there, where you can see between those two houses. He was walking down the street, headed towards the overlook at the end of the avenue, I guess. It's a popular place for the teenagers to hang. But, they are usually gone by this late at night."
"Does he come back by this way."
"No, he must go back along one of the other side streets that go all the way through."
"How long do you figure until he shows, if he does?"
"I told you, about ten more minutes. So, when he came into the light at the intersection I just watched him. When he gets about ten steps--"
"Ten steps."
"Yeah, ten, weird. Anyway, I felt this itch on my neck, right here, so I scratched it. It was just an itch. Then I noticed that when I scratched my neck he scratched behind his ear."
"His ear. On this side. The side we can see?"
"Yeah. So, it wasn't so weird at the time. He just continued and I watched him go."
"And the next time?"
"Like I said, the first time it was just an itch, and when I thought about it more it didn't seem like anything weird. I was out again a few days later, _not_ high, thank you, and I saw him coming, when he passed through the light there. I wasn't really expecting anything, just watching him, this kind of silent human movement in and out of the streetlight pools late at night. And then it happened again! I scratched, he scratched, and then I became aware of it and it kind of freaked me, kind of a bizarre mix of spinal fear and disbelief."
"Was it ten steps again?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, about ten. So, I was kind of freaked and just before he was through the intersection and back into the darkness between lights I reached up and scratched my neck again."
"And?"
"He scratched his ear!"
"No way. Then?"
"He was gone, into the dark, behind that privet stuff along the street on the corner lot."
"The third time?"
"I was a little weirded out for a few days, watching for him every night. It seemed like forever, but he finally came by a few days ago, after about eight days of no-shows."
"And..."
"I had been obsessing about this for days, trying to decide if this was real or what, wondering what to do when he showed up next time. When he passed by, between the houses there, my insides went all adrenaline, and I froze waiting for him to get into the intersection. I thought I would wait to see if I felt the itch first before I scratched, but then decided that I would scratch before the itch, to see if he would scratch. I did it and he did nothing. There was a kind of frozen moment as I pondered this, and then I felt the itch and scratched it. It was kind of like seeing that your keys are still in the car and you have just pushed the door and you are watching it close, with no way to stop the inevitable. Just as I scratched he did too! And, before he was gone I scratched again, and he did too. I quickly did it again, and he did again, just before disappearing!"
"Freaky."
"My insides went a little berzerk. It was too freaky. I am going to try some other stuff, like not scratching the itch at all, or something, I'm not sure what. But, I need you to see this too. To see if it is real."
"Look, there he is!"
--
Copyright 2003, David Scott Coburn


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