STRANGER

Through the half-twisted blinds, through the windows’ glass pane, through the branches and twigs of naked tree outside my window, across the parking lot, between a silver truck and a red sedan parked peacefully, on that wall of the building across mine, I see the letter “P” pasted on it. The windows on that wall, facing towards mine, don’t have the cover of a tree to hide them from my keen sight. Furthermore, one window in particular has no blinds or curtains in it.

About a week ago, I received a security alert about a murder that occurred in apartment P-21. It has been vacant since. I can sometimes see the yellow tapes through the window, marking the area where I think it happened. Time and again, my curiosity gets the best of me and turns my head towards ‘P’, crawling my eyes through layers of barricades into the room and focuses on the blood splattered on the walls. The spots are still there, it’s a crime scene, not yet cleaned up. I’m guessing they haven’t caught the murderer yet, which makes me shiver from the lack of security this place provides. I have been unable to focus on any work since. Keep catching my eyes stuck to those spots. They are only visible at certain times, when the sun is on the sky and not others, when it’s cloudy outside or dark.

Every time my eyes catch a pedestrian on the parking lot separating the crime scene from my building, I hear an alarm in my ears. A sudden peak in my pulse, sudden distraction from my work. All of this however don’t prick me as much as the half drunk bottle of beer by the kitchen table. It’s perfectly placed for my eyes striking point. Still half full or half empty. Shame, the killer didn’t let her finish what would possibly have been her last drink. It’s a pilsner. Always her favorite. I guess she missed her home. Drank the homesickness away with a 6 pack every Friday night. The front of the bottle reads “Pilsner Urquell” beneath a red symbol marking 175 years of its manufacturing anniversary I guess. She was from the same place, Plzen, Czech.

I saw her once, in the liquor store across the street. That day was the first time we spoke. And the only time. I always preferred German until then, ‘spaten optimator’ being my favorite. I started drinking Czech because of her. The store was out of mine that day. She suggested it was too strong for her taste and that she always went for the one that reminded her of her home’s taste. I too drank for the tastes. Never for the intoxication.

So, I thought as I told her, that I’d give her home town’s a try, and that her town’s original pilsner company had an unknown marketer who managed to gain them a new client that day.

The bitter thing, of reality that bugs me so much right now is, I still have one bottle from the 2nd six pack I bought. The day she was off. I wanted to thank her for giving me a new taste to taste. I wanted to make her slightly more proud of her home town brewery. On Sunday evening, I received the email. On Sunday evening, I stopped drinking because the half drunk bottle across the parking lot, on the table in her kitchen reminded me that my bottle and the taste it contained were the only thing left in reality, of her for me!

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