The busybodies passed each other along the shadowed roads beside tall buildings, buildings as if aspiring to be skyscrapers, with all the modern shine and black gleam such aspirations could afford—at least for the facade. Smoke rose through the cracks of alleyways from gutters where the burning trash roared the coldness of incoming winter away. It was just another sunny day in the west side of the city.
Among the crowds were the muses, inspirations of marble statues, fox skins hanging from their shoulders, wrapped in tight dresses, their eyes were hidden underneath sunglasses. Then there were the suits, suave and average joes. Blue-collar workers with a city fashion sense pretending to fit in with the higher pay-grade stock. The crowds stuck to the pavements, avoiding cement veins between them, busy with bangs and beeping horns of frustrated taxi drivers and the rattling engines of old white vans, flowing throughout the city. All the noise and chatter. Curdling within itself.
Out of the monolith of a hotel between a cinema and a theatre, two youths emerged into the flow of bodies. In the crowd of blondes and brunettes, of pretty and ugly and tall, of dark and light, the two blended into the masses. None would have been able to discern them from the vast sea of movement, everybody was in a rush to get somewhere. The two walked side by side, the taller one on the left had long flowing hair and a dress, with makeup on her face she passed for a teenager. Later, though inconsequential, her name would be revealed to be Stacy Shrike. A daughter of two nobodies, who otherwise would have been a nobody herself. The short one was a toddler, a boy. Dark bowl-cut, porcelain white face, padded in a puffy onesie that was his blue coat, with additional wool padding around the hood.
They walked a quarter of a mile, downtown past shops and the promenade, past hundreds or thousands of people in rush hour. All for the CCTV cameras to see, except when they either blended with the crowd so much that they could not be discerned, or they simply vanished between buildings.
They were later spotted again, about half a mile away from where they were last seen.
Both the boy’s black eye and the other one ran with tears. His blue coat was dirty, mud, or oil, or something else.
The police officer they walked by exchanged a strange gaze with his partner, but his shift was long and the break would soon be over, yet he stopped the girl. Then after finding out the toddler was her “brother”, left them alone.
The boy couldn’t walk right, so the girl picked him up.
The makeup saleswoman giving out samples sighed at the sight, and the women surrounding her cooed in unison and bickered about the cuteness of it all.
When the girl, with a laugh, started throwing the crying boy, one person walked up to her and told her to stop. But there was no time to question the bruises on the boy’s face, no need to look into the dirty coat dry with blood. It wasn’t their responsibility.
When the two youths disappeared under the underpass, that was the last anyone ever saw of the toddler alive.
But they were just kids.