ON THE STAIRS
by Alex Lobera
I met him on the stairs. I had never seen him before, and never saw him again. It was unusual to meet him there, because I never met anybody on the stairs, probably because my work hours were the opposite of my normal neighbors’, whatever that might mean. Before I saw him and passed him on the stairs, I heard his footsteps, and before that, I smelled him. I guess you could say I smelled him on the stairs. He reeked, of stale urine, and stale booze, and something else, vaguely familiar by smell, but which I could only identify with certainty as we passed each other. He carried the cardboard box, the one I had buried the night before in the parking lot. Apparently he had just dug it out, because it was still covered in dirt, some of which spilled on the steps, outside dirt mixing with the dirt already there so the only way to tell that dirt was falling was to see it fall. Once it landed, it fit right in.
As we passed each other, he glared at me, and I averted my gaze, first to the wall, then to my feet. I stood there, and he kept on moving, and did not glance at me again. I finally looked up and saw him open an apartment door and disappear inside, and the smell of urine and whiskey eventually faded, but not the other smell. As always, that smell stays, as if splattered on the walls, and at that moment I thought that if I had my Luminol kit, but instead of blood the Luminol was designed to test for the smell, and I sprayed it around and then lit it with the UV light, the fresh dirt on the steps and the walls of the staircase and even the air would phosphoresce.
About the Author:
Alex Lobera is a graduate student of Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso, and of Film Directing at the Academy of Art University School of Motion Pictures and Television in San Francisco, California. He has had short stories published in Ascent Publications and BorderSenses and a poem accepted for publication in the March 2018 issue of Azahares Literary Magazine and a short story in the coming June 2018 edition of Riggwelter Literary Journal.
When not writing, he works as a physician in El Paso, Texas.