Chapter 7 of The Empty City

By Andrew Looney

The three men found themselves in front of apartment 1017. The leader knocked. After a span of time, he knocked again. The door to 1017 stayed stubbornly closed.

However, the door to 1016, just across the hall, did open. A middle aged woman with graying hair and a blue apron beckoned to the three men. Seeing her signal, the men quickly ducked inside, and the woman closed the door behind them.

"If you're looking for those strange young men who live across the hall, you just missed them," said a balding man who appeared from elsewhere in the apartment.

"How do you know?" asked the leader.

"I watched them leave through the peephole," said the woman.

The leader tilted his head to one side and stared at the woman. "Do you always spy on them?" he asked.

"Oh, yes!" said the man. "They're a strange bunch. We keep an eye on them, for the sake of the community, you understand, in case we ever need to call the police or something."

"Are you boys from the CIA?" asked the woman.

The leader ignored the question. "What do you mean by strange?" he asked. "What sort of things do they do?"

"Well, there's all the usual stuff, you know, coming and going at all hours of the night, odd noises, weird people who come by..."

The two assistants were losing interest in this line of questioning, and began casually examining the features of the apartment. One of them noticed a large stack of National Enquirer newspapers and began thumbing through the top issue.

"I think they may be Russian spies," confided the man to the leader.

"I think they're either Devil worshipers or aliens from space here to plan for the invasion of Earth."

"They wear the strangest clothes. Once they went out wearing these black robes, with hoods down over their faces."

"And once I saw all four of them were dressed up like Elvis."

"And a couple of times they've gone out wearing animal skins and carrying clubs, like they were cavemen or something!"

The leader held up his hand. "Um-thanks for your time," he said. "But we've got to be going. Do you have any idea where they were headed?"

The man and the woman looked at each other. "Not really, no," said the man.

"Thanks, anyway."

Copyright © 1991 by Andrew Looney.

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