An Exercise in E’s

Ethel was standing on the street again, staring at the white elephant painted on the sign of the grocer’s shop.  Ethan looked out the window at her, wondering why that sign fascinated her so much and why her fascination fascinated him.  The sign stood at the end of the street, an alley really.  Dark and damp, it wasn’t really a place most people liked to stand but almost everyday, Ethel came to stare at the elephant.  What was she thinking?  Did the elephant mean something to her?  Did it embody some old memory?  Was it some sort of esoteric message?  Who knew?  Only Ethel knew.

Ethan stared at her brown hair and small frame.  Did she have a home?  Did she live with anyone?  Did they wonder where she was everyday at 3.30 pm as she stood in the alley in front of Charlie’s Smart Grocery?  Ethan didn’t know, and on some level, he didn’t want to know because that meant he would have to care, and, at this point, he had more than enough to care about.

He turned back to his customer who was beginning to wonder why Ethan had stopped in the middle of tattooing “So Sexy” in script on his back.  Ethan grimaced, wondering how long it would be before the guy regretted this tattoo.  Maybe the guy would be eternally proud of it, or maybe he would just come to accept it as another part of his skin, not good, not bad.  When Ethan looked up again, Ethel had left.  The street had emptied as evening snuck into the city.  A small, pungent breeze kicked up several pieces of newspaper and sent them rolling into the gutter.


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