Sleep Will Banish Sorrow

From where he was standing under the marquee he watched the woman. She stood at the curb waiting for a couple of minutes and then she began walking down the street. After she was about halfway down in the next block, he began following her, close enough that he could still see her but far enough away that she wouldn’t know he was there.

Something in the woman’s manner indicated that she was not afraid of being alone on a dark street late at night. She looked straight ahead and didn’t seem in any hurry. He knew she didn’t know he was following her. She hadn’t even seen him. He was careful to walk so she wouldn’t hear his footsteps on the sidewalk.

She came to an intersection and stopped, waiting for a couple of cars to pass. When the way was clear, she crossed the street and went through the open door of an all-night drugstore on the corner.

He hesitated for a moment and then went up to the window of the drugstore and stood at the edge and looked in, so that anybody inside would not be able to see him. The inside was brightly lit and cheerful. He could see all the way to the back of the store, rows of display cases and a large rack of magazines and newspapers. Three fans in a triangle hung from the ceiling and turned slowly like airplane propellers in slow motion.

The woman in the tan raincoat went behind a counter and disappeared through a doorway. A man at the magazine rack picked up a magazine and went to the counter to pay for it. An old woman with a little boy standing beside her waited at the prescription counter for the druggist to come back.

Soon the woman in the tan raincoat came out of the doorway at the back of the store. With her was a slightly older woman who resembled her enough that they must have been sisters. The older woman put on a coat and picked up an umbrella and laughed and said goodbye to someone, and then the two of them came out the door. He was standing several feet to the right of the door and, since they turned to the left, they didn’t see him. He stood beside the window and watched them until they turned the corner in the next block and went out of sight.





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