Chasing Painted Horses

At first, out of the corner of his eye, Ralph noticed something peeking out at him from beneath the torn and weary posters. About five feet up and six feet from the building’s corner, peering at him from around tape, was what appeared to Ralph to be a large, wild eye. An eye painted of dark blue and purple with a little white. About five inches across. Staring at him. Glaring. The eye looked out of place. But there it was, a dozen or so feet away.

Once again, something in the back of Ralph’s mind quivered uncomfortably. He had no idea why an errant eye from a wall of brick hidden behind old posters would do that to him, but there was definitely something in that simple, if disturbing, image that caused a shiver of memory. But, like the eye, maybe it was just a hint of what was hidden. The memory reluctant to come, almost like it was afraid to. Either way, that did not bode well.

And the eye, was it hiding? That was a bizarre thought to have, Ralph suddenly realized. Had somebody tried to conceal it?

 Moving a few feet closer, Ralph peered deep into the eye. It was layered with circular swirls of blue and purple, softening where they overlapped and became a shade of grey or white, like a photo of a hurricane. It had the eerie effect of watching him, standing there in the urban winter morning, staring back.

This is silly, Ralph thought. But he knew the eye, some- how; or, more accurately, he knew he should know the eye, or what it represented. The knowledge was swirling in places his mind stored things that might cause discomfort, trying to get free. This was more than a few layers of paint. He approached the wall like a police officer and, hesitating for two seconds, grabbed two handfuls of weathered paper, tearing them violently off their anchors. They came away from the brick quite easily, the adhesive long ago having lost its effectiveness. Handful after handful of frail paper drifted to the ground, collecting at his feet. Officer Thomas was sure a case for littering could have been made against him, but he didn’t care. The more he tore away from the wall, the more he revealed the owner of the eye.

In less than a minute, the wall was bare and the cold northern wind channelling down that alleyway was blowing the shredded paper all across the street and onto the streetcar tracks. Not from the wind, Ralph shivered. He spoke his second set of words of the morning, very quietly and soberly and not nearly with the same enthusiasm as his first.

“Christ, it’s you.”