The Called Part 1

February 18th, 2011 by Wordsman

Day 61:

Officer Escobar didn’t go back into Simon Park Station after that day.  Now that his colleague was back on the job, the subway tunnels were as safe as they needed to be.  Maybe too safe.  Anyway, for all he knew the woman had finally accomplished whatever the hell it was she was trying to do and was no longer there.  He could almost believe that (Escobar had once witnessed a starving man breaking a window to go into a house and take a loaf of bread.  When the man said he lived there, Escobar took him at his word, but this was just too much for him to swallow).

So Escobar, who got impatient on public transportation anyway, took the subway out off his regular route.

He did not, however, put the woman out of his mind.  Mrs. Escobar, whenever she would see his eyes glaze over, simply assumed he was daydreaming about baked goods again.  And, often, she was correct: though the images changed as the weeks went by—from Leftover-Halloween-Candy Bars to Cranberry Chutney Strudel and Pumpkin Pie Profiteroles to the incomparable Bûche de Noël—her husband’s thoughts never went long before wandering back to the Dough-Re-Mi.  But a man’s mind cannot live on cake alone, and so, every now and then, he semi-voluntarily turned his mind to the woman in Simon Park Station.

She was still there.  He knew this, and grew more certain with every passing day.  Until he saw her outside with his own eyes (even though they had once been called “the least reliable pair of eyes in the Crescenton Police Department”), he would remain sure that she was still underground, still leaning against her concrete pillar, still addressing her pleas to whoever happened to walk by.  He was also fairly confident that the pedestrians she spoke to were continuing to give her a variety of responses ranging from mild curiosity to just short of physical violence.

Because picturing her failing over and over again was almost as depressing as watching her do so, Escobar often switched to imagining what the person who finally answered her call would be like.  He had several competing theories.  Rescuer Mark I, the first to surface, was essentially a younger version of Escobar himself.  In addition to being in better shape than the policeman had ever been he was also a world-renowned pastry chef and had a considerably smoother way with words, but other than that they were very much alike.  Mark I played the French horn, because he had always thought they looked cool.

Rescuer Mark II was her knight in shining armor.  Literally.  The lance was a safety hazard, and the logistics of getting the horse through the turnstiles were nothing short of a nightmare, but hey, the classics are classics for a reason.  Mark II, who had a flair for the dramatic, was most often pictured charging down the entryway steps, knocking over at least one watery coffee stand, picking up the old woman and lifting her onto the horse in one smooth motion, and riding off into the sunset without even pausing to catch his breath.  The knight was too busy jousting to learn to play an instrument, but he had a squire who accompanied him everywhere he went and who performed regularly on the coconuts.  Coconuts are an instrument, right?

But it was the third iteration that became his favorite.  Mark III—whom, in a burst of creativity, he had decided to name “Mark”—was an older gentleman, but not too old, perhaps halfway between Escobar and the woman.  He always dressed stylishly but subtly, and his silvery black hair looked like the work of a laser-guided comb.  Mark was a man of the world in every sense; there was no great city he’d never visited, no notable figure he’d never met, no country in which he’d never narrowly avoided being deported.  He could talk for weeks about all the things he had seen and done, but mostly he preferred to listen.  Mark was proficient in any number of instruments, but his signature sound was playing soft, jazzy riffs on the clarinet.

The woman in Simon Park Station had considerably more free time to devote to this problem, so it should come as no surprise that she developed designs for dozens if not hundreds of potential saviors (she lost count after Mark XXVI).  Still, none of these prototypes bore much resemblance to the man who ended up responding to her plea—though, like all of Escobar’s inventions and the majority of the woman’s, he was indeed a man.  He was no master baker, wore no armor, and his range of life experience was about as broad as the latest cell phone model.  He did have one thing in common with the woman, which was that he also lived in a place where Officer Escobar never went: the suburbs.

At first glance it might seem that the suburbs would have been an ideal posting for the man who prefers to police areas in little need of policing.  True, the crime rates did tend to be lower outside the Crescenton city limits.  However, this was not due to there being fewer crimes committed but rather to their being less obvious.  The crimes of the suburbs are harder to define, harder to prove, and much harder to stamp out, but that does not make them any less wrong.

On this particular day, a crime against cinema was being perpetrated.

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