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Short story: <i>The Bazaar</i>

In the dusty bazaar, the heat settles in a heavy golden haze around the hard packed earth, the wooden tables, the dirty and torn canvas stands.

Crowds drip like honey, poured in every direction. It’s so hot and bright that everybody is drenched in sweat and glistening in the light, which reflects off every surface and picks up the plastic bags in the gutters and dries out the mud in the streets.

Ice glints while it melts on the pavements, taunting with its luscious impermanence. Vendors sit on small wooden stools and fan themselves magnificently with newspapers, calling, beckoning people to try, to wait, to talk, to buy. The crowd is in a sun stupor; stupid and tired and trudging and disinterested, with any will to buy or focus sapped away by the fierce aggressive heat. Cars press through the stream of people slowly, the drivers resigned and slow.

There’s a crack and a short shriek. A shiny red car stops, and a flurry of dust swirls as the driver pulls his body out car and onto the road. Under the bonnet of his car is a bicycle, and in front of his car is a child with blood and black hair on his head and thin arms, like twigs. A half interested crowd gathers. The boy sits up. Half the crowd disappears. The man walks quickly over to the boy and squats at is side. They talk quietly. There are no police. There’s no need for a plausible explanation. The rest of the crowd disappears. The drivers behind are too hot to sound their horns or figure out why they are stopped. Some sleep.

The man pulls the boy to his feet. The boy looks unsteady. The man pulls out a wad of small bills. He hands a couple to the boy, who stuffs them in his pocket. The man pats the boy on the shoulder, avoiding the blood dripping down from his face, and pulls the bicycle out from under his car. He throws it in the gutter with the plastic bags and ice. He gets back in his car and rejoins the slow moving procession through the street.

The boy doesn’t look back, or around. He moves robotically through the crowd. Nobody looks at him, either.

This is the result of a fifteen minute writing exercise. The only constrictions were the time limit and five randomly selected words from the dictionary. Today the words were: plausible, focus, bazaar, luscious, and robotically.

Image courtesy of Caramdir.

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