By Lance Manion

What makes Brad Brad and Mary Mary? Are they only that way when I'm around?

That's why I don't trust people who live alone. Too much time on their hands with themselves. Maybe their presence is the only thing keeping that building from being abandoned. In a sense it might already feel abandoned. Sort of like the opposite of being homeless. By that I mean you can be emotionally homeless and still own a home. That building, which without that person would be considered abandoned, is the only thing keeping that person from being considered homeless.

Each of them, the person and the building, keeping each other from these cryptic classifications. It's not normal for a person to be so reliant on an inanimate object and its certainly creepy for an inanimate object to be that reliant on a living being.

Is it just me?

In a sense it's already a homeless person living in an abandoned building.

What are they doing in there alone all the time. Away from the prying eyes that keep the rest of us in line. We live in a society damn it! There's a good reason for this. Why do they need to be different? What are they up to with all that solitude?

Nothing good, that much you can count on.

It's like a ghost story where the ghost doesn't have the manners to be dead already so he or she can scare the children on Halloween. Don't they realize that there's a wrecking ball somewhere dying for a taste of the structure that they are lurking in?

I stare at the house they live and try to catch glimpses of them passing by a window or watching their television. Sometimes it will be an entire night and I will not even see a shadow of them and yet I know they're in there.

What the hell can they be doing in there all alone.

I feel like that they are just trying to get in good with the house. Like if they pay their dues the structure will warm up to them and start to show them hidden passageways and crevices.

And what if that's exactly how it works?

I see these people out in public. I look into their eyes when I don't think they are looking and to everyone else their face looks placid but I can feel them about to burst at the seams. I can feel something behind their eyes sliding around in their head. Impatient to get back to their lair, out of sight.

I feel like they are the kids that nobody would play Duck, Duck, Goose with because they would never say goose. They would just duck their way around in an endless circle until all the other kids got fed up and left and they would stand there in a circle of no one saying duck until recess was over like lunatics.

Maybe that's what they do in the houses. In the basements. In their secret rooms off of secret corridors. Stand there smiling and spinning and saying "duck" into the wee hours.

How can I ever trust someone like that and how can I ever be sure that's not exactly what they do when they retreat to their homes and shut their doors behind them?

These people who live alone. Apart from the rest of us.

What is it they are hiding? They don't think we can deal with their abhorrent "duck" lifestyles?

If you don't live with other people than to me you're homeless and any home with only one occupant, however many secrets it may hold, is abandoned. It just makes sense. Like saying that you can never be lonely if you are never alone.

Do they want to be lonely? Is that what their after?

They're not talking.

They're not being canny you know. They're being uncanny and that doesn't make me feel comfortable. It makes me feel uncomfortable.

I would continue this but it's time to occupy myself with social interactions.

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I am the author of four humorous short story collections; Merciful Flush, Results May Vary, The Ball Washer and my latest one Homo sayswhaticus. I blog daily on my website www.lancemanion.com and frequently contribute to many online fiction sites.
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