• It was a quiet night in the city streets. The lights were dim and nothing but the lonesome insects stirred in the night. The lumbering clouds hung low in the sky and a brisk wind howled through the deserted drainpipes. The autumn leaves lay gently nestled on the ground and the shadows danced in the wavering light. It was a perfect kind of night. The perfect kind of night for a stranger to visit.
    One of the lights flickered for a moment and then went out. A shadow moved as another light dimmed into the darkness. One by one, the streetlights died, hiding the figure in shadow. Though on light at the end of the street still dared to stay lit. And it stood proudly in front of a warm and cozy home. This did not stop the shadow. It slowly sauntered into the wavering light and paused.
    The stranger wore a dusty red suit and a tall velvet hat that covered his brow and cast a shadow over a pair of glowing yellow eyes. He carried a black briefcase in a white-gloved hand and kept a folded hanky in his left breast pocket. The stranger smiled a little, and then took a long step towards the house.
    He crept up to the window of the house and peeked inside. The sweet smell of roast and sweet apple cider wafted through the window. Inside there was a family, just sitting down to dinner. At the head of the table, sat the father, and to his left, the mother and evenly distributed around him were his two children. The tallest was bickering with the two younger ones over who gets the largest slice.
    The stranger’s stomach growled as he moved away from the window and sat on the front porch. He opened his briefcase and began to read a book that barley fit inside the little bag. He slowly turned the ancient pages of the book, taking in every word that presented itself to his greedy eyes. His nose buried itself so deep into the crumpling book that the stranger hardly noticed the front door open.
    A child peeked out of the door and gasped. His eyes filled with fright as he watched the rather dirty man sit on the cement porch. The child turned and ran as fast as he could to his mother’s lap. His mother, surprised at her child’s panic held him in her arms.
    The child pushed away sobbing and stuttering as he struggled with the words.
    “Mummy- the- there- porch- scary- man- sitting- there. Muuuuuuuuummy!” the child weakly wailed. The mother turned to look at the father, lounging on the couch, and then turned back to the child. “Calm down. I can’t understand you, when you stutter.” she asked, amused by the terror that her child was in. The child took a deep breath and tried to repeat.
    “There’s a scary man! He’s w-waiting outside our h-house! He sitting on our-r porch!” stammered the child. The father then got up from the couch and went to the front door. He looked outside and sure enough there was a stranger out there. The father opened the door and asked “May I help you?”
    The stranger turned around and looked into the somewhat familiar face. “Oh,” he stammered, startled by the father’s sudden appearance, “Yes. I was just looking for a place to stay while I search for a friend. I’m told he lives in around here.”
    The stranger then extended his hand towards the father, in hopes of some forgiveness, but the father looked away. The mother stood behind him, holding the scared child in her arms. The stranger smiled at her and apologized for his sudden appearance. The stranger then looked at the child and giggled to himself.
    “I’m sorry,” said the father after a long and silent conversation with his wife, “but I’m afraid you would just have to leave. But if you can tell me your friend’s name, I might be able to assist you in finding his location.”
    The stranger looked up in amazement. ‘Surely he hadn’t forgotten? He couldn’t have.’ The stranger thought to himself. “I am not quite sure of my friend’s identity, but surely he would be able to recognize an old friend.”
    The father’s eyes widened, as the stranger smiled a sly smile. The once fading memory had bubbled to the surface and then popped in his face. The stranger’s eyes glowed in the dim light as a look of shame grew on the father’s face. The father then met the stranger’s gaze then, slowly shut the door and bolted it shut. The stranger smiled some more a put his hands in his pockets.
    He then turned to face the now dying light of the street-lamp. Then in the fading light he whispered to himself, “You always did strive to reach the top, no matter who you stepped on. And now you intended to stay there, no matter what it took.” The stranger then grabbed his briefcase and walked down the now dark city street.