The Green People

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man with only half a body intervenes into the troubled relationship of a struggling young couple.

Submitted: April 30, 2009

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Submitted: April 30, 2009



THE GREEN PEOPLE  by Devon Pitlor
I. Nicholas and Hannah in the parking lot of Fine-FoodCo
The Saab 900S rocked back and forth visibly to all passers-by, but not for good reasons. Nicholas and Hannah were doing what they had been doing best for the last few months of their barely year-long marriage: argue. They were pounding their seats, the dashboard, the doors and came perilously close to pounding one another, but fortunately their middle-American upbringing prevented them from crossing that line. Today they were arguing about Ethan who wasn’t even born yet and whether Nicholas would ever be able to take him hunting with his father. Hannah hated guns and hunting. Nicholas liked hunting with his father. In fact, Nicholas liked his father and his father’s activities all around, and yet another problem was that Hannah did not, but conversely,  Nicholas did not care at all for Hannah’s mother, and that was another problem, along with the issue that upon entering the car to go grocery shopping that morning, Nicholas had failed to even take a step toward Hannah’s door or make even the slightest weak feint towards opening it, and this was, according to Hannah, because Nicholas now took her for granted, and this was especially true since she was visibly pregnant and no man that Hannah knew ever wanted to be seen with a pregnant woman. The argument heated up further when Hannah also started dumping on Nicholas’ friends, for whom she had developed a sudden distaste, and  the quarrel accelerated even farther when Nicholas accused Hannah of becoming a “boring housefly” and not wanting to go out and have fun any more. Hannah thought of an incident where she had been crying about something and Nicholas hadn’t noticed, and Nicholas, not to be outdone, detailed a very recent time when Hannah had for some secretive reason locked the bathroom door when she was taking a shower. The screaming and accusations intensified to a point where Nicholas, who was first to leave the car, needed to slam the door violently. Hannah, being pregnant, knew she could not risk trying to slam her own side door with greater force, which would have normally been called for in this situation, so when she jumped out she kicked the front fender leaving a small dent. Nicholas glared at her. She was ruining “his” car. She glared back. The car was “theirs.” Nicholas said something about a thing his father had once mentioned, giving Hannah yet another chance to call his father an “old meddling fart,” and this, quite predictably led to the snide expression of Nicholas’ long held conviction that Hannah’s mother had never liked him or accepted his family. 
Und so weiter…
So Hannah stamped off toward the right entrance to Fine-FoodCo where you had to fight your way in through the fresh flowers, and Nicholas trudged off with his hands in the air, talking about how he should have never given up the single life, toward the left entrance, which was really an exit but an exit that could be used if one wanted as an entrance but only when it wasn’t already being used as an exit, and because of this Nicholas passed by the six packs and grabbed one up malevolently, a dark Belgian beer that he knew Hannah hated. And Hannah threw some stalks of flowers in her cart because she knew Nicholas, who was still paying for graduate school, thought they were a frivolous waste of money.
In the spice aisle, Hannah called Nicholas and asked if they had cayenne pepper for the enchiladas. Nicholas answered and said he didn’t give a damn what brand she bought or whether she bought any at all for that matter. He was shouting into the phone, so it was only becoming for Hannah to shout louder. Ethan pumping in her stomach and her face flushed with anger, she told Nicholas that he had never cared about anything but his father, and Nicholas, punching a ripe melon, agreed and let Hannah know that from now on she could visit her “wretched” mother alone. Hannah returned with a promise not only to do it but to stay for a while with her mother since Nicholas cared so little to have her in the house. Nicholas countered with an imaginary fishing date he had with his father at the same time Hannah had promised to be with her mother, so now the house would be empty. Hannah clicked off her phone. Nicholas jabbed at his phone unable to make it cut off loudly enough to match Hannah’s abruptness. When they called each other again, it was about Hannah feeling unloved every time she saw another couple who shopped together with the same cart as she was witnessing  now in the meat aisle, and Nicholas muttered something about being past all that sap and cream for some time already, and Hannah said Ethan would have a mark on his body from her tension and loneliness and general unlovedness, and Nicholas said that he had better not because Ethan was his son and his father’s only grandson, and then…
And then a peal of thunder and a bolt of lightning ended this round. Rain began pelting down. It roared off the corrugated roof of the huge grocery mart, drowning out any further cellphone conversation between the angry couple.
By the time the rain subsided, Nicholas and Hannah had abruptly met somewhere near the frozen, ready to cook and eat dinners. Hannah supposed with exasperation that Nicholas wanted something from here because he was too lazy to cook, and Nicholas was already disgusted with Hannah because the aisle made her cold, and she was always cold, which he hated. He was quick to bring up Amy, with whom he had once spent a cold night in the Montana snows under a depleted parachute, serving as a tent, with no heat. Amy had never complained of the cold, and they had even managed to make love in it. Hannah said that she and Nicholas didn't do that any more and that he could be sure they would not in the future, and Nicholas said that he would not miss it because fishing and hunting, using guns---which Hannah loathed and he knew it---with his father was far more stimulating. Hannah said that any small-sized squash in the fresh vegetable department would easily replace Nicholas, so that got Nicholas to mention melons in an unsavory way, which made Hannah cry and point to his insensitive dark Belgian beer---almost at the same time that Nicholas was about to launch into her frivolous flowers.
They became stolid and silent and refused to look at one another and just mechanically tossed more items in their dual shopping carts, pretending that the other did not exist. Hannah threw a can of beluga caviar back onto the shelf and complained about money they did not have. Nicholas said his father had financed them so far and would continue to do so, unlike Hannah's invisible and silent father who was living like a lopsided  lampshade in the corner. Hannah bashed a bag of veggie chips into her cart. Nicholas slammed the beluga caviar, which he did not really plan to eat, back into his. They proceeded, taking separate paths to separate checkout counters. Nicholas was thinking about calling his dad for a prolonged hunting excursion next week, a week the couple had off and during which had planned a second honeymoon. At the same time, Hannah was talking to her mother on the phone about boxes and where to get them because she was moving out. Nicholas glared at his wife two lanes over and turned away in disgust. He would never make it through another day with Hannah. He needed his father. Hannah needed her mother. Ethan needed parents, but that became rapidly secondary during these coarse exchanges.
The rain resumed with a sheeted violence that made all the shoppers stop and take notice.
II. Simon K.
Hannah and Nicholas continued to glare at one another across the rows of checkout lines. Both finished paying for their purchases at about the same time and proceeded to join the crowd of other shoppers at the exit where everyone was waiting for the end of the rain. They still looked aside and pretended not to notice each other, even though they were ostensibly heading for the same car and ultimately the same house for the same reason.
A nappy haired kid who served as bagboy and front end helper stared at the solid wall of rain and said that "sho nuff" he was not going to go out and get wet. He looked back at the customers and said "Y'all just gonna have to wait on Simon K." Some of the shoppers groaned; others fidgeted with their car keys; still others shook their heads in disgust. It was apparent that no one liked Simon K.
When Simon K. darted back into the store with his huge umbrella, some of the impatient customers averted their eyes and tried keep him from seeing them. They moved silently aside as Simon K. entered. The man was a horror to look upon. A little under half of him was missing, that is, his entire left side starting from his skull downward. It was as if he had been run through a bucksaw. A huge indentation ran down his head like an uneven dent, and with it was removed his left eye, part of his left jaw bone, his left shoulder and arm, part of his left hip, all of his left leg--which was replaced by an exposed metal prosthetic leg, upon which he navigated rather dexterously. Most of the regular shoppers had seen Simon K. before as he routinely waited near the front of the store to assist customers to their cars. Many totally avoided him. Whatever had removed Simon K's left side was something they did not want to hear about, and what was left of Simon K. was always overly friendly and appeared frighteningly garrulous. Some regulars claimed to have heard war stories about him and his missing half, and they shirked from the prospect of hearing these recounted on the way to their cars. Others just didn't want to look at him. Fine-FoodCo was a place for the young and upcoming. Simon K. was indeterminately old and inordinately spooky. Going out umbrella-less in a torrent was better than suffering the sight of Simon K. up close, or worse hearing any account of his odd condition that he might take a notion to narrate.
His remaining eye, however, was warm, piercing and friendly, and, it focused immediately on Nicholas who was deliberately avoiding Hannah's gaze and humming nonchalantly a Three Doors Down tune that he didn't even like. Simon K. fixed on Nicholas' eyes and pointed to him with his intact hand. "C'mon," he said with a genuine air of helpfulness, "you're next." Nicholas was trapped. To refuse Simon K. would be to insult the handicapped half-man in front of everyone, so he lowered his head and pushed his cart forward. "I'm with my wife," he muttered. "Let's put our stuff together." Hannah moved forward and started throwing her purchases into Nicholas' cart. Simon K., using his one arm, helped with a gentleness that Hannah did not demonstrate with the bags of groceries.  When their bags were joined, Simon K. said "Let's go" spread his huge umbrella over the couple who were cringing far closer together than they wanted to be and got ready to dart forward into the massive rain. But just after passing through the exit door, a huge bolt of lightning zapped down and knocked a branch off a tree which was to the side of the parking lot. A shudder of terror ran through the crowd huddled at the door.
Like a good shepherd or a competent crossing guard, Simon K. held the couple back with his hand and directed them into the garden patio under the plastic canopy which covered it, bidding them to sit down on benches around a picnic table which Fine-FoodCo employees---always minus Simon K.---usually reserved as private for their lunches. "Lightning is dangerous," said Simon K. dispassionately. "We need to wait out the storm."
Hannah scooted as far from Nicholas as she could and managed to ignore Simon K. at the same time. This meant she had only the curtains of rain to look at. Nicholas in turn moved as far from Hannah as he could to the point that one cheek of his butt was hanging off the side of the bench. He snarled "Harrington" under his breath, just audibly enough for Hannah to hear it. Hannah responded with her own snarl. "Yes, Harrington. I'll call him first. He was MY mother's friend, and YOU will have to find another lawyer."
"Fuck your Harrington. I'll do just that."
"Good. Do it right away when we get home. Call your precious father and ask him about lawyers."
Simon K., despite being ignored, watched the couple curiously. His one eye was soft, intelligent, caring and ...yes, compelling. It needed to meet other eyes. These turned out to be Nicholas’ eyes. Once again, Nicholas was trapped.
"You have a father?" said Simon K.
"Doesn't everyone?" grumbled Nicholas.
"I did once," replied Simon K., "and a mother too."
The rain gave no sign of letting up, and the thunder announced the threat of even more lightning. The power winked out inside of Fine-FoodCo, and the trio could hear the exclamations of the huddled customers left in the near darkness of the auxiliary power beacons. Simon K. shrugged his one and only side and sat down. His metal leg clanged against the braces of the picnic table. It was the first time he had sat down with other human beings ever at that table. His apparent friendliness caused Nicholas to study him a little more, but surreptitiously and with a sense of guarded caution that comes with youth.
"Oh, yeah, my other half," smiled Simon K. "It is not here. It is somewhere else."
Inadvertently and with immediate regret, Nicholas said "Where?" The word just fell out of his mouth. Just before another deafening clap of lightning struck nearby, Hannah forced a big, audible sigh. It was a sigh that seemed to showcase her entire feelings for both Nicholas and Simon K. To Simon K. it said "Please go away" and to Nicholas it signified "I hate you."
III. Simon K. tells his story.
"There was a town," he began, "up past Danesville in the Lake District that was founded by Menonites, a religious sect that liked their privacy. To keep the tourists away they bought up all the property they could in the woods, put up fences and made sure the county did not pave the one road that led into their village. It was called Greenmont, and it was very quaint and remote, but every time someone in Danesville would put up a directional sign pointing toward it, the sign would vanish into the horsecart of some Menonite within a few days. My father and I had fished the whole area since I was a child, and he knew about Greenmont. It wasn't really that big of a secret anyway. 
By the time I was twelve, the Menonite founders had left and some enterprising souls had attempted to make it just another resort venue. They had build a series of new rental cottages around the pond---which my father was convinced was chock full of hitherto untapped fish---and had managed to keep a sign advertising the cabins there for a whole summer, because even after the Menonites left, the signs still disappeared. But that was all changing. Someone built a general store there too and a gas station. Tourists were trickling in, and my father wanted to spend our summer vacation near Greenmont during my twelfth year. The fishing would be good, and my father and I loved to fish. My mother always wore an apron and unlike a lot of ladies today, she loved to cook for us. We were a happy little family. Times were different back then. My father wore a tie and brimmed hat and smoked a pipe and worked as a simple clerk in an insurance agency. Yet we had plenty to live on, and my father managed a two week vacation each year and drove a Studebaker President. As I said, times were different."
By this time Nicholas was starting to digest Simon K.'s words little by little. Simon's father liked to fish just like Nicholas and his own father did. There was something suddenly human about the deformity beside him on the picnic bench. Simon K. took on a shred of personhood, and Nicholas began listening more intently. Hannah, whose head had been down for several minutes in order to avoid looking at anyone, felt some of the flush drain from her angered face. She raised her eyes for the first time and stole a quick look at Simon K. The rain continued to fall in huge sheets blocking the view of their Saab in the parking lot.
"My father and mother were kind, gentle people," Simon K. continued. "I never heard them raise their voices in anger at one another or at another human being ever. I was a nice boy too. I had a cocker spaniel named Tauser with a black patch over one eye. We boarded him when we took our yearly vacation. That year it would be Greenmont, in the new cabins. My father had called ahead and rented one for us. The pond was, they confirmed, full of fish and there were very few tourists that June. The rental, I remember, was $25 per week. So we stocked up with groceries, shopping together as we always did, laughing, planning, thinking about the board games we would play by night. I kissed Tauser goodbye at the kennel, and we were off. It was a beautiful June day. I sat in the back seat of the Studebaker and shared little jokes with my parents. We played a game spotting license plates and then twenty questions, at which my father always won by stumping us. In Danesville, we stopped for lunch at a diner where we ate each year on our way to the Lake District. We were served by a new waitress, a young girl that I thought was pretty. At twelve, I was getting these little feelings about girls, most of which I tried to ignore. But I remember the girl's name was Anne. Anne was bubbly and nice, and she casually asked my parents where we were headed for. When my father told her we were going to Greenmont, she froze for a tiny instant and then went about her duties as if nothing had been said. We ate huge hamburgers and finished with homemade doughnuts fresh from the deep fryer. Just as we were leaving, Anne came by the table and sat down beside me. Again, I felt that early stirring that boys get. She looked across at my mother and father, who were holding hands, and said in a very concerned and helpful way "Better not go to Greenmont. It is Green People season this year. Not a good idea."
That was all Anne said before she got up and went off to other tables. My father and mother, still holding hands, had no idea of what she meant by Green People. But it was not something to linger on, and my father had already made a reservation in the new cabins. He was anxious to get down to the pond and fish, and so was I. 
The road to Greenmont was still unpaved, but it was slightly oiled which made driving easier. The village on first sight looked like most of the towns in the Lake District, only smaller. There was the general store, anice cream stand, a hardware outlet, and a gas station. As our cabins were about two miles outside of the center of the village, my father decided to buy gas then instead of later. In those days, an attendant in a uniform pumped your gas, and ours was another friendly sort. He was obviously happy to see tourists. "Going to the cabins, I see," he said. "Some great fishing I hear in the pond there." He finished with the gas, and my father got out of the car to pay him. They stood apart from us and the attendant whispered something quick to my father and put a finger over his lips. 
When my father got back into the car, he was laughing. "They all have some sort of joke going," he said. "He said to watch out for the Green People because this is their season. That's twice we have heard about the Green People. I bet it is a way to increase the flow of visitors here. They do that kind of stuff in small towns. Next year, they will have the road paved I bet." We drove on.
Simon K. paused for a moment and rolled his eye over Nicholas and Hannah who were now both paying more attention. A noisy bustle came from inside Fine-FoodCo. People were getting finicky and restless with the rain and lightning, and some were darting out into the columns of rain. Hannah looked at Nicholas for the first time in over an hour. Her look was to ask if they should risk it too. Nicholas glanced back at Simon K. and shook his head. They would wait out the rain. Suddenly Hannah brightened up. She would get all interested in Simon K. just to spite Nicholas. Even a deformed freakish-looking guy could be tolerated if it meant spiting Nicholas. She looked at Simon K. and asked in a sprightly voice "So what happened? Who were the Green People? Like gnomes living in the forest or what?"
Simon K. was now far away in his own reverie. He was reliving what happened next. He was twelve years old again and wearing a striped shirt in the back seat of a Studebaker with two loving parents in the front, parents who actually held hands and often kissed. Parents from another era, a time forgotten.
"The cabins were beautiful and smelled like fresh varnish. Everything was new. The owner, a rosy-cheeked man named Bub, took my father and me directly down to the pond and pointed out the holes where the bass hung out. My mother busied herself spreading linen on the beds and putting the groceries on shelves and into the refrigerator. I remember she was still wearing her apron. Some women did that back then. I mean wore aprons all the time. My mother did. She was a happy, content woman and it showed. Bub pointed here and there and told my father about how slow business was. He looked me up and down and made some comment about how soon it would be before I was a grown man. Then he decided to speak to both of us. "It's the damn Green People thing," he said with obvious disgust. "A stupid story. I have no idea who started it, but it is all around. When I built these cabins, they all warned me that every few years it would be Green People season and that no one would come. I didn't pay any attention to their silliness until now."
"You mean there are Green People," asked my father with a grin.
"No," said Bub. "But this is supposed to be their season, and just like they said, nearly no one---excepting you folks---is coming this year. I may have to apply for welfare."
My father asked for more details about the Green People, and Bub told him that the Green People were supposed to be totally green from head to toe, they wore green clothes that looked just like ours except more formal than was necessary for the woods, and finally that they were supposed to just come out of the walls and lure innocent people into their realm which was invisible. My father paused on the words "out of the walls." Then he mentioned with a laugh that since Bub's cottages were only a couple of years old, the Green People probably had not thought to haunt them yet. Bub enjoyed the joke and added this his house, just up the road, was over a hundred years old and that no Green People had ever been seen coming out of the walls yet there either. Both men laughed. But I became slightly concerned. I had this feeling that I was going to lose my parents, and at age twelve that was the worst possible thought any kid like me could have. A kind of quiet panic rose from my chest.
But we fished all day, and I forgot it. When the sun set, we walked back up to the cabin and were struck at once by the pleasant smell of a pot roast my mother had been preparing. Potatoes, green beans, pot roast, cider. She was a wonderful cook, and she liked to cook too. My father put the rock bass we had caught in water on the porch. We would clean and eat them tomorrow. After dinner, we played Candyland and Risk. Then it was bedtime. We slept like rocks at the bottom of the sea. If there were Green People ready to come out of the walls, they would have found all three of us sound asleep. I was in my bedroom alone, and I had no fear. It had been one of the most beautiful days of my life.
But the next day was different. 
My mother was up before us and already wearing her floral apron---which had a huge rose print on the front. She was frying eggs and sausage in an iron skillet provided by the cabin. My father winked at me and said to come out with him to get the tackle ready while we were waiting for breakfast. The warm sun was already making the pond come alive, and ripples on the surface gave the promise of good fishing that day. For some reason, my father was wearing his brimmed hat. Men did that in those days. My mother had slipped a 45 rpm onto her little turntable, which she never failed to bring on trips. The Platters, Only You. I could hear its melodious strains coming out of the cabin. It was a tune I loved, probably because my mother and father loved it and because I truly loved my mother and father.
Suddenly the needle scratched across the record and the music stopped. My father took no alarm, saying that mother had perhaps bumped the player. But minutes later we could hear her talking to someone. ‘Probably Bub,’ my father said, "come down for a morning visit to make sure everything is okay.’  But it wasn't Bub."
Hannah shifted nervously on the bench and inched a few centimeters closer to Nicholas, who inched farther away from Hannah on instinct. They had been at war for a long time. Her eyes widened and she stared at the half-man. Nicholas stole a quick look at his wife. He knew what she was thinking. Like her, he suddenly wanted to hear the end of the story. Impatient customers continued darting out into the thick rain. Their shouting and door banging was drowned out by the rumble of thunder and the continued flashes of lightning. The sound of cars splashing away was muffled in the distance. To both Hannah and Nicholas---separately of course---these sounds seemed miles from them now. Nicholas said it this time, but if he had not, Hannah would have: "Who was it?"
"We continued to hear my mother's muffled voice talking to someone as we walked back up the path into the cabin. It was an extremely bright morning, and there was a brutal glare of sunlight obscuring the interior of the cabin from immediate view, but when our eyes adjusted we saw my mother standing with her arms outstretched talking to a man dressed in a business suit and wearing a brimmed hat with a brushy feather in the band. The man was green. I mean totally green, a sickly, fishlike green. His skin was dull and seemed to deflect the sun, but he was solid enough. It was not an illusion or a phantasm. There in the tiny dining room of our cabin stood a man with green skin,  green eyes, green hair, green clothes, and he was beckoning my mother to join him. Almost at once, other green people emerged from the half-log paneled walls of the cabin. Some were women who despite their green-ness looked somewhat like my mother in age and style. One, I remember, was wearing an apron. Hers had ruffles and did not have a big rose on it, as did my mother's. There were a couple of children too. Green children. They did not come totally out of the wall, however, as if they were too shy to do so. There may have been three couples in all once our vision cleared. Families. Families like ours. All neatly dressed and all green.
My heart rose to my mouth as my father stepped forward. All of the Green People wore smiles and were beckoning him forth. "Come with us," one of them said in a perfectly clear voice. "Come now." My father's protective instinct must have kicked in because he tried to lunge forward and place himself between my mother and the first green man. But in lunging he was grabbed by the others. I remember their pallid green hands all over him. They pulled, and in an instant my father, whom I loved from the depth of my heart, evaporated into the wall. Seconds later they got hold of my mother and drew her in too, and then they all started looking at me. I turned and ran out the door into the bright morning and down toward the abandoned boat, fishing line and tackle that my father and I had planned to use. No one followed me."
Simon K., now sniffling softly, wiped the corner of his eye with the back of his hand.  "They were gone," he said emotionally, "and they never came back. Not that day at least. Not for years later. Do you want to hear the conclusion of my story?"
Hannah and Nicholas eyed one another in terror. A crazy, deformed man had totally engaged them in a story so strange that no sane person could believe it. For the first time in over an hour, they looked directly into one another's eyes, silently asking if the other one wanted to hear the end of Simon K.'s story. They did. 
IV. Simon K. concludes his tale
"I ran and I ran. I should have gone back. I ran past the cabins, past the hedges, past the trees, past Bub's house and up to the road into town. I may have run into town. In a black haze of fear I forgot everything after a certain point. The next thing I really remembered was riding in a sheriff's car into Danesville and then in a state police car all the way back to Massoula. I blanked out several times and woke up finally under a warm quilt in my grandmother's house where I learned later the police had taken me. My grandmother had no explanation and neither did the police or the reporters or the doctors who interrogated me. There was a newspaper article, which my grandmother tried to hide from me. It said that my parents had abandoned me and they were being sought. There is no point in telling you how much I cried. And I cried for years thereafter. I cried every chance I could get. I cried alone and I cried in public. I talked to no one about the Green People after the initial incident because no one believed me. The story just stood as it was. My parents were "unbalanced" and had just up and left me. One story had it that they had gone to Europe."
Hannah shot a glance over Simon K.'s body, or what was left of it. There was an unspoken question in the glance. Simon K. followed her eyes to his own split torso and understood.
"Yeah," resumed Simon K. "I went back. I could drive by then. I had tried unsuccessfully to go to college and then to hold a job, but I was haunted by my own cowardice. I cursed myself for running. It was I who had abandoned my parents, not the other way around. I ran off. I should have gone through the walls with them. I knew that. But fear prevented me. Hell, I was twelve years old.... but that was no excuse."
Simon K. sobbed a little more and regained his composure.
"Anyway, I drove up there finally. It was fall and Bub had no idea who I was. I was twenty-one years old now, and I suppose I looked much different. I decided not to tell him and simply asked to rent a cabin. I was not the only renter that fall. Others were there. Families. Children on Thanksgiving break. Fathers and sons fishing in the pond. Women cooking. Nine years had passed. It was clear to me that Bub would have not discussed the Green People anyway if asked. So I just paid and took a cabin key.
I neither fished nor hiked, but rather sat alone in my cabin for hours by day and night. I did not even remember whether it was the same cabin in which my parents had been stolen by the Green People. I sat in a chair and stared at the walls. I drifted occasionally off to sleep, but mostly all I did was think. Think of the good times, the loving tenderness of my parents, their wonderful faces, hands and eyes. Finally with exhausted regret, I decided to leave and whispered a last goodbye to the parents I had forsaken so long ago. It was around noon and I was packing up to leave when my father, still dressed in his fishing vest and wearing a brimmed hat but green from head to foot, emerged suddenly from the wall of the front room. Like the Green People of so long before, he was solid as a brick, and he smiled at me with genuine love. Seconds later, my mother came out behind him. Both of them examined me. Both of them seemed pleased to see me. This time I would have no fear.
"Come, Simon. Come now and live with us. It is peaceful and everything is in harmony. You never grow old or at least not very fast. Come now and live with us. We are now Green People. It is not bad at all. Come."
In a trancelike state and bursting with love for the dear parents I had lost, I drifted toward their open arms and embraced them. Gently they pulled at me and drew me toward the wall. I was in their embrace and somewhere between this world and theirs when a bolt of raw fear shot up through my body. I turned abruptly, ripping myself from their fervid entwinement. But I did not run this time. I fell. I fell backwards into the tiny living room and heard in my last moments of consciousness their voices pleading with me to come with them. Their words grew more and more distant, and finally the room was silent. There was no pain. No blood. No torn skin or bones, and, as you can see, no scars. But half of me was missing, just like I am now. My own dear parents had tried to bring me to them, and once again fear had prevented me from joining them. I had once again lost the only human beings on earth that ever meant anything to me. I was stricken with the darkest of all shame. I made it back to town somehow and was treated in a veteran's hospital for all the things they treat veterans for. I received a prosthetic leg and special clothes. A lot of questions were asked. I had very few answers. There was a war going on in Indochina, and something told me to act like a dazed, crazed and wounded veteran. I don't think anyone really believed me, but life goes on. Life always goes on. Life finds a way even when half of you is missing and all of your heart, your soul, is gone...for my heart and soul were emptied totally and irrevocably when I lost my dad and mom. Someday, I'll look for another chance to join them...join them there with the Green People. Maybe I'll find my missing parts, maybe not. But what I really want to find is my dad and mom. That would be more than enough."
Simon K. stopped his monologue and stared at the couple. The rain had lifted. He ambled up and pushed the full grocery cart to their car as they followed speechless and heads down. Sunlight was reflected in the deep puddles of the parking lot. More customers, all young and some quarreling, were coming into the store. Save for the puddles, it was as if there had never been a storm.
V. Conclusion
Simon K. vanished as quickly as he had appeared, not waiting for a tip. Hannah and Nicholas in silence got into the Saab. Nicholas had purposely gone around to open the door for Hannah. As they drove down the avenue toward their home, their hands searchingly crept across the car seat and found one another. Then Nicholas put his arm around Hannah's shoulder. In the driveway, they paused to kiss, neither saying a word but never lifting their eyes from each other's. Whatever it was before the storm, before Simon K., was no more, and it seemed as if a new world of sober promise had been born from the torn, storm-weathered ravages of an old one. 
Devon Pitlor, May 2009

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