T he man in red blew into town on a blustery November day. Despite there being many witnesses to the event – an empty sidewalk one moment, then with a gust of wind, there he stood the next – his exact looks remained a debate. He took a different form based on who you asked; He’s pushing seven feet with fingertips that hang to his knees one man said; Oh he was quite handsome indeed a woman blushed, I think he might have even winked at me. One thing everybody agreed on however was the red velour suit he donned.
Everybody that is, except me. I was there that day. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant day to begin with. My wife and I were having troubles and I’d resorted to perusing the windows of local boutiques to try and find something to, if only temporarily, remove the scorn from her eyes. It was a heeled pair of brown boots that had me stopped when I first felt the chill in the air. The wind rolled in from around the side of the brick corner store I stood gazing into and wrapped around my legs. I looked down at my feet, a trembling shiver working its way from my toes up my body. When I looked back up, there he was. The reflection of him grinning behind me. The first thing I noticed was his body was red with blood, devoid of skin or any form of containment, the inside of him turned out like a discarded sock, its seams and frayed strands baring the inner workings of his construction. It was horrific. As if he had been burned alive but doused with water after only his fleshy bits had burned off. He smelled like it too. The second thing I noticed was despite the depravity that stood in front of me now, I recognized this man. I knew him, which meant that I knew him standing there now, in front of me, grinning and bare, was simply not possible. I knew this because this man was dead – and I had killed him.
A wide grin splayed across his face, he rested his chin on my shoulder and stared at me in the reflection of the window. Words bubbled up from deep within him and fought their way through a blood filled mouth. Noone will believe you, he whispered in my ear. A hand of melted flesh and taut tendons wrapped around my other shoulder as he patted me reassuringly then walked away. He brushed past a portly woman who turned as he walked by. His eyes twinkled back at her and he gave her a wink before continuing on down the street. She must have noticed me starting because when she began walking my way again she said, handsome fella isn’t he. And that suit. He must not be from around here, he’s dressed far too nice. She pursed her lips, her cheeks flushed with the infrequent attention of the male gaze and wandered off to tell her friends about the handsome new stranger in town.
When I turned back he was already rounding the next corner. I took off after him, skidding around the corner but he was gone. The air was thick with the smell of burning and a few people along the street were energetically speaking with one another, each relaying their experience with the man in red. As I walked from group to group it became clear from overhead conversations that despite a few details of size and stature and the general pleasantness of his appearance, nobody had seen what I saw. I decided then, I would have to keep it that way until I could put him back where he belonged; Far away from me, this town, and the mountain of sin that existed between us.