Here we are! It's the last week of the A to Z Challenge! If you're struggling to keep going, you can take comfort, because you're almost there.
I have some flash fiction for you.
Today's word: WANDERER
The wanderer came into our tiny town the same way he did once every couple of months. He wore modest, non-remarkable clothes, but he was tall. His presence was notable.
Mr. Miller, the town barber, started keeping a record of when he came and how long he stayed, which was never more than a couple of days. I never knew why some people in town eyed the wanderer with such suspicion. He never hurt anyone that I was aware of, and though he never went out of his way to talk to anyone, he was polite enough. When I was twelve, the wanderer and I accidentally bumped into one another on the corner of Main Street and Welsh Avenue, and he said “Excuse me, young lady” and went on his way.
The wanderer stopped in to the bank to do business, but Mrs. Carlisle was the only one who’d ever served him, and she took the confidentiality rules very seriously. Even Mr. Carlisle knew nothing about the wanderer’s identity.
When I was twenty-one and home from college for the summer, the wanderer came again. I learned about it through hearing the whispers at the local café. People were speculating, and those speculations became more fantastical as time went on. The prevailing opinion was that he was a con man who kept on the move so no one could catch him at his game. Some thought he was a murderer that kept the money he stole from his victims at our bank. Others guessed involvement in organized crime, or that he worked for the government.
It fascinated me that such a mythos could develop around a single person, and I wondered why people just called him by the moniker “the wanderer” when there were countless other names they could have chosen.
The mystery was shattered the next day when the wanderer was found dead in an alley. It soon came to light that a group of people in their late teens and early twenties had confronted him. They demanded to know who he was and what he wanted. They threatened him with knives and baseball bats, though they never got to use them. The wanderer dropped dead of a heart attack first.
The family came that afternoon. The wanderer had a family: a wife and two teenage kids.
He also had a name. Ronald Alfred Winston.
Mrs. Carlisle was questioned, and it came out that she knew Ronald from childhood. They’d dated during high school. They were having an affair.
Scandalous on its own, perhaps, but only in the most ordinary way. People talked for a short time afterwards, but it died down relatively quickly. The mystery was more engaging than the reality.