• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 11

The Watcher

The man appeared suddenly one night under cover of darkness. He moved stealthily like a cat marking its prey, all tiptoes and furtive glances, a swish of his crimson blanket. No-one knew anything about him, not his name, nor where he had come from. Some people called him Pepe, others Jorge. I liked to think of him as Miguel; whatever his name, the man was a mystery. You see, he only appeared at night; in the daytime he was nowhere to be seen which kept people guessing, kept them watching, expectant for his return. I often wondered what he concealed beneath his blanket; it was bright pomegranate, the colour of a setting sun, with three severe lines at the edge, and it swamped his slight frame. I figured it acted like a cocoon, keeping him safe and protected from the strangers who frequently walked past.

A few times I looked out over the balcony, peering on to the dusty street below and sure enough, Miguel would be there wrapped in his ruby blanket, a blood stain in this small village. Sitting there like that he looked so insignificant, a vibrant part of the scenery people often took for granted, and yet, I knew this man was different. A sudden urge would seize me to call out, wave, and ask him to join me. He seemed like the type of man who had a few colourful stories to tell – he was a watcher, an observer of human nature, a man who waited before he struck.

I soon learned Miguel had refused the kindness of Mr Sanchez – the nicest man in the village who would have given shelter to a liar and pickpocket, and always averted his eyes when the young ladies walked by in their long colourful skirts and suggestive Bardot tops. After a while, I gave up trying to figure him out. Instead of smiling, he would scowl and turn away; if anyone offered him a helping hand, he would curse them under his breath.


The Watcher

Even when Rosita had offered him a warm bed for the night, Miguel hadn’t shown any sign that he had even heard her and continued staring ahead, transfixed on an invisible spot in the distance. Miguel had turned his back on the villagers, and, in return, they had turned their backs on him.

It came as no surprise, when, three nights ago, Miguel failed to take up his place outside Mr Sanchez’s shop. I stood on my balcony for a long while waiting for his arrival but he never showed.

Rumour has it that Miguel was waiting for a woman he knew from childhood, a woman he had given his heart to long ago, a woman he couldn’t live without; and, according to Ana Maria, the woman was seen stealing away with him into the night, leaving behind her three young sons and a husband who frequently beat her.