Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Seventy Nine

A hurried walk through the city in the morning, the sun up and the towers gleaming in the light. The streets are empty of people, only a few cars pass by. Those I encounter don’t quite meet my eyes and hurry on their way, as I do on mine.

I pass through a park where flowers are in bloom, though the fountains are still empty. In one corner there are two men conversing with a glazed look to their eyes, blankets and clothing at their feet. Beside them a huddled form lies, a face not visible beneath the coverings.

Further down the street I hear an incoherent shout behind me, but I do not turn around. As I cross an intersection an older man emerges from a corner store, today’s paper in his hands. He crosses to the other side and we move in parallel down the street, each going past closed shops and darkened windows. In the middle of the block he unlocks a door and enters a building and I catch a glimpse of a set of stairs leading to the apartments above. Instinctively my eyes go to the second floor windows to see if I can see what is within.

A black truck idles, parked on a corner, almost edging out into street. It was there the day before as well. The driver sits behind tinted windows, not quite visible. His window is rolled down a crack and the smell of cigarettes wafts out as I pass.

Further on I meet a young man with a frizzy tangle of hair, a patchy beard, a poncho and checkered pants, with a desperate look to his eyes. I pass by and forget him, moving on through the city. Some blocks later I meet him again, coming from another direction.

How did he come to be here? The only answer is that he must have looped around to get ahead of me, though I cannot imagine why. He is just out for a walk like me, perhaps with no destination. We pass each other again and I meet his eyes, haunted and fraught. I don’t turn around and I do not see him again.

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