Leo and Marcus sat on a weather worn bench in the middle of the park. Leo was comfortably leaned back,
Arms stretched behind him, eyes squinted in the bright afternoon sunshine. He watched as the people and animals moved around him. A squirrel scurrying up a maple tree, three college boys throwing a Frisbee to each other, a mother and her child strolled the path in front of them, and an airplane flew high over the horizon.
"I love it here," he said breaking the silence, "it's sunny, bustling with life, and everything seems to always go according to plan. You ever notice that, Marcus?"
Marcus refused to engage in the conversation. He felt as if he was being held hostage by a raving mad man and didn't dare provoke him. He also wasn't sure how they had ended up sitting on the park bench, both clean of any evidence that Marcus had been sick earlier. Marcus looked around at the picturesque scenery; not really seeing anything that was going on. It was all background noise to his inner dilemma. Wanting to run as fast as he could from the crazy cowboy sleuth and fearing that no matter how far he ran, he would wind up right back here sitting next to him forever.
Marcus finally noticed that Leo had resumed talking.
"â€¦Yeah, nothing ever seems to change out here in this big, perfect world. It's like we're on a loop. Perpetual playback, if you will. Yep, same ol' same ol' every damn day."
Marcus stared at him with anger and confusion contorting his sweet face. He could no longer hold back his tongue.
"What the hell are you going on about now?" he asked the crazy cowboy.
Leo laughed under his breath and glanced at Marcus from the corner of his eye.
"Hush and watch the scene in front of you unfold.." Leo replied cryptically.
Marcus wanted to yell and argue with the cowboy sleuth, but he was exhausted, both physically and mentally. What he really wanted to do was to go home and be left alone with his woes. Though, thought brought him to tears. Even if he managed to escape the madman sitting beside him, what did he have to return to? Not only did the love of his life burst into flames and was consumed by death like an extra crispy chicken wing; but every trace of her existence had been erased from his life and the lives around him.
'Why bother running away?' he thought to himself, 'I should just let this crazy fuck kidnap me and do whatever it is he does to the bereft souls he preys upon.' But Marcus was a fighter, he would not going willing into the darkness of this madman's world. He began bouncing his legs on the balls of his feet.
"Quit doing that and focus,' demanded the cowboy. Marcus ceased his anxious movement and stared at the park scene before him.
"What am I looking for?" he quietly queried the Cowboy. Leo shrugged off the question and nodded his head towards the park.
"What do you see?" he asked Marcus.
Marcus carefully focused on the people in front of him; narrowed eyes closely scrutinizing the imperceptible nuances of park patrons.
"I see a squirrel running up this maple tree," he began nodded his lead to the left where a tall maple tree stood, "a few college kids playing Frisbee, a mom and her baby having a walk, and a plane way out there flying east. You want me to count the blades of grass too?"
Leo laughed deep and loud, "No, grass doesn't grow here. It just is."
Marcus was sure he could not become more confused by this cowboy, but he was.
"The grass doesn't grow.." he started
"It just is." finished the cowboy sleuth.
"What the fuck are you smoking?" Marcus asked only half serious.
"Same thing you are, man, same thing you are.. Now focus, what do you actually see?"
Marcus sighed and focused on the park scene once more.
"There's another squirrel running up the maple.. Almost the same way his friend went. The boys are still playing Frisbee. Seems like they're really good at it, I haven't seen them run off to retrieve it once. Mom number two and child number two are walking up the path enjoying the day and there is another air plane heading toward the East."
Leo held a small smile and nodded his approval.
"That's good, but you aren't paying attention, Marcus. FOCUS!"
He startled Marcus with the unexpected force of his words, Marcus obliged the command. He made note of everything going on around him.
"Gray squirrel up the tree, he stops, looks like he's watching us for a moment, then finishes his ascension. Three twenty something, possible campus boys are playing Frisbee. Number one right handed throws it to boy number two. It soars over the wind perfectly and lands in the left hand of boy number two, who then throws it, left handed, to boy number three who jumps to snatch it out of the air above his head and immediately throws it back to boy number one. Repeat. Blonde mom is pushing the minivan of strollers along the path, making silly faces at her whining infant. She looks tired, but happy. High above them, an airplane is zooming through the skies over to the Eastern hemisphere of out of our perfect little world," Marcus took a deep breath to replenish his worn out lungs and turned to the cowboy.
"Did I pass your crazy test?" he asked. The cowboy only shook his head and pointed out the park.
"Look closer," he advised.
Marcus, resigned to his fate, returned his focus to the park scene and focused harder.
"Gray squirrel up the tree, stop, nose wiggle, back up the maple tree. Boys playing Frisbee without ever losing the disc, mom and baby take a walk, place flies overhead. What's the point of this? Everything is the same no matter how hard I focus? Am I supposed to be reading their thoughts or something?" Marcus was frustrated and tired. He wanted to be done with this craziness, he felt the heaviness of the passed twenty four hours weight heavily on his bones.
"Everything is the same." Marcus told the cowboy, "Why do I need to tell you what you're seeing?"
Leo's face was grim, each line set like etch marks in the marble of a statue.
"I don't need to be told what I see, you do." he revealed to Marcus, "Everything is the same."
Marcus returned his attention to the park scene.
"Everything is the sameâ€¦" he whispered.