Are You Alienated (part three)

Oil painting cameo of wary man in tight pants

Are You Alienated 
(part three)






“And yet you believe that this quality, this state of mind, can be attributed to someone, that such dangerous people are out there, although you cannot find this quality in yourself or in the people you know and trust. You do not see the world as consisting of people like yourself. You, trustworthy and law-abiding, hopeful for the future, fearful of strangers; they also trustworthy and law-abiding, also hopeful for the future, and fearful of you, a stranger to them.

“You find the world to be constructed like a pyramid. You and yours sit at the top.”

Valerie let out a breath. “Oh, Jesus! You wanna pretend I’ve done something to these people you’re just now making up? Did I hear you right? I’m minding my own business here!”

Emmett, like many who expound, had―to the extent the room allowed―paced and gestured as he spoke. He’d come to rest against the closet door. She was closer, now, to his phone, than he was. But Valerie was not a practiced plotter…her eye had fixed on its object, and Emmett discerned her intent.

“I am perfectly amenable to negotiation,” he said. “I am speaking to you, Valerie. Rather than do violence to my property, you may ask me to leave.”

“But is that it?”

He smiled kindly on Minta. “I have three points to make. After which, I had meant to answer your question. That is to say, I promise, if Valerie approves, to tell you what I came to St. Petersburg to learn.”


“Deviation from the norm.”

He walked street-side, speaking whenever a lull in traffic permitted his voice to be heard. Minta followed her own rhythm, leaning to stare at window displays, straightening to exchange a glance with Emmett while they passed the architectural line of demarcation dividing concrete embrasures from tinted, insulated glass.

Emmett, as the two embarked, had held up a finger and left her, wordless, zipping down the corridor and popping into the elevator. Minta shrugged, and lingered, for embarrassment’s sake. A woman seeming only to wait in the alcove, ignored the chime and let Emmett board alone. Her eyes stared, focused and not focused, in Minta’s direction; a stare, if the thing were possible, both bored and penetrating.

Minta’s mother-in-law could not accept John Emmett, as a package-deal; but at the last could not persuade herself he was a criminal. Pleading a sinus headache, she’d consigned them to one another.

“Do what you want. I can’t stop you.”





Are You Alienated
Virtual cover for novella and short story collection Are You

More of this piece on Are You Alienated Page
Are You Alienated: part four (excerpt)














(2015, Stephanie Foster)



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