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Tempus Tripudio

​It was only a matter of time.

Dawson knew that he had the right one this time, no doubt about it. And here she was, walking calmly down the exact street she was supposed to be on, at exactly the time he’d finally figured out she’d be here.

Ah, the synchronicity of perfect timing is a beautiful thing, he thought to himself, reveling in the logic and dance of it all. Just one second, here or there, and you threw the whole thing off, tossing the dancers into the whirlwinds of chaos.

And Dawson liked order.

Drawing his hat down, rim balancing just above his brows, he watched her, strolling slowly along the sidewalk, peering into the shop windows, chatting with the man at the newsstand. So unaware, she was, so secure in her innocence. So oblivious to the fact that death waited, just around the corner.

Sunshine on honey, her hair bounced gently on her shoulders.  A happy punctuation to every step she took. He briefly wondered what it smelled like – flowers? Shaking the nonsense from his mind, he pushed himself up from the bus stop bench, keeping his head low enough to not really be noticed, but his eyes on the prize. Shadowed eyes under a dark, slightly grimy baseball cap, nondescript jacket over jeans and mottled brown cowboy boots, he was totally unnoticed in the stream of people shifting along the sidewalks. He was simply a part of the scenery, as far as anyone else was aware. Totally unremarkable.

She was moving again. Stopping briefly at a flower seller’s cart, she picked up some soft yellow tulips, smiling brightly at the merchant, laughing as she waved and started walking again.

Soon.

The moment. That perfect slice of time. It was coming, he thought. And then he’d know, finally, he’d have that answer he had been seeking for so long. This was his moment, and it wasn’t going to escape him again. Not this time.

Speeding up slightly, he got within 3 people of her, to better witness the moment, without her being aware of him. That would spoil the results, spoil the answer, and he couldn’t have that. It all had to happen, exactly the way he remembered.

And, just as they both rounded the corner, and she started to cross the street, it all came to pass.

“Sally!”

A voice called out, and the blonde young woman turned, smiling, just as the drunken driver careened down the street, that perfect, shining, exquisite moment.

Dawson sped up now, knocking people carelessly out of his way, and grabbing the young woman by the arm, spun her around and tossed her back to the sidewalk, tulips spraying up and out, falling broken to the ground surrounding them.

And then he stood in her place as the drunk crashed into him. Death, staring back at him, shock and horror, shining in his face.

As he breathed his last few breaths, Dawson heard the drunk scramble across the tarmac toward him, falling to his knees, sobbing loudly.

“You! Who are you? What?” he cried loudly, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, the smell of alcohol wafting strongly over him.

“Shut up, dumbass. Listen…” Dawson rasped, coughing blood, as he reached up to grab the man’s shirt and pull him close, and tucked a small something in his pocket. “Listen… I put….. thing in your pocket. Use it. That woman, she… don’t let… right thing. Do it. Dance… Death.”

“Oh, God! Why was he in the street? What? Who is he?” The drunk staggered up, lurching back to the hood of his car, as the awfulness of all of it hit him. Turning back over the side, he threw up, hurling and crying everything within him.

When the cops showed up, he sat there, numb, answering every question in a dead, dull voice. Years in prison stretched out before him, drunk driving, involuntary manslaughter, the words meant nothing.

The only meaning was the small object in his pocket, engraved with the words: Tempus Tripudio – Latin, he knew, for Time Dances. And the dead man, lying in the road, wearing his face. Dawson knew, nothing would ever mean anything again. Not until he had the answer. And until he learned to dance. In time.

-Jan. 7, 2014

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