By Venus Wright
I walked out the front door of my apartment building, stopping on the stoop to look up and down the street. Millennial mothers with strollers power walked and eagerly chatted about their husbands or the gripes of motherhood. Elderly couples, some lone elderly folk too, walked on the inside of the sidewalk; the slow lane. Across the street, Lucas was sitting on the porch of a small brick house sandwiched between the other buildings. It looked like it had been there far longer than the neighboring buildings. The porch roof slanted, dried-out vines stuck in rigor mortis, once climbing. His long, wildly splayed grey hair swayed back and forth with his body in a rocking chair. He cradled a harmonica in his hands and up to his mouth, eyes closed. The music he played resonated through the neighborhood, whines and screeches of the instrument’s tinny tune.
I hopped down the building’s steps and set off towards him. The street rarely had cars so I didn’t stop to look. Once across the street, I stopped at his fence gate just before the sidewalk.
“Good morning, Lucas. Boy, do I have the story for you today,” I said with a grin.
Lucas smiled from behind his harmonica before placing it on the small rickety table beside him. He waved his hand, gesturing me in.
“Well, let’s hear it,” he called.
I opened the gate and walked up the crooked pathway, up the creaking steps, and leaned against the cracked deck railing.
“So, the craziest thing happened to me the other day. I was walking down this here street, right?”
Lucas nods with bright eyes.
“And I turn the corner down thattaway,” I say while pointing down the street to the left of his house.
Lucas looks down the street as if the story would happen right in front of him.
“I turn, and there’s this gigantic elephant in the middle of the road. I mean, it must’ve been two or three times the size of a normal elephant, and they’re already pretty big.”
“Psh, you did not,” he said, yet his smile held a childlike hope.
I nodded eagerly. “I sure did.”
I did not, of course. There wouldn’t possibly be an oversized elephant in the street of some gentrified neighborhood.
“That’s not even the craziest bit, though! The elephant started to float, right in front of my eyes! My very own eyes! It was only a few feet off the ground, but boy, Lucas, I nearly fainted.”
Of course, this did not happen either. But the wonder on Lucas’ face was the reason that the truth of the story didn’t matter. Lucas had lived alone in his house since I moved in across the street some ten years ago. He just sat in his rocking chair every day and played his harmonica. I’d never seen anyone come or go from his house, so a few years ago I started going over and we became friends. I came to him with these extravagant stories and he just listened. At first I was messing with him. I wanted to see just how much he’d believe. But I couldn’t bear to simply fuck with him after I told him I’d been abducted by aliens and they’d made me their ruler, and he believed me. Now, I told him extravagant stories still, utter lies, yes, but he believed their fantastic oddities. Every story seemed to bring him joy, even if they couldn’t be farther from the truth.
At the end of my story he chuckled in disbelief. “Man, I can’t believe I miss these things. Then what happened? What happened after it floated?”
I shrugged. “Dunno. Bunch of cops and FBI people made me leave. They were making everyone get out, even people who lived in the buildings!”
He raised his eyebrows and leaned back in his chair.
Shaking his head, he said, “Wow, must’ve been some weird government science project, huh? Like some new weapon.”
He raised his eyebrows at me. I smiled.
“Yeah, that’d be funny. An attack elephant. Surely effective for pulverizing.”
He raised his eyebrows again, shaking his head as he said, “I’m just glad they got it contained.”
“Mm,” I said, smiling, “me too.”