Denny senses strange forces around him, watching
It was happening again.
He remembered the first time it happened. He lay in bed late on a Saturday morning. Nathan slept on the other side against the wall; Elvis needed to go for his morning walk. He whined, lying on the floor next to him. Denny closed his eyes tighter, not wanting to get up; then, a bright flash and electric pop. Elvis immediately sat up. Denny raised up, and turned around. Even with eyes closed, he sensed the bright flash. He smelled burnt plastic. Opening his eyes, he saw the desk and chest-of-drawers, but no smoke; nothing burned. The sound came from about six feet off the floor, at the foot of the mattress. Denny looked at Elvis, Elvis looked at him; then they both looked back in the direction of the sound.
Even then, he had an uneasy feeling that someone from far away was watching. Nathan snored softly. Elvis placed a paw on the mattress. Denny reached up to comfort him.
Now, walking through an open air shopping center, he saw them. Above him, faux gothic arches held up a plaster ceiling. Columns topped with baroque capitals stood on each side of the marble floor. The shopping center, with gray plastered walls and an array of neo-medieval, renaissance, and classical styles, was placed at an intersection. Trollies screeched around curved rails, cars sped-by. He had been studying at the Haag for three months.
They were walking towards him, a tall woman with blonde hair, and two men. All three prosperous, wearing expensive trench coats popular for 1988. They stared at him.
Headed towards the other end of the structure, he glanced up as they approached. They were not talking, their faces frozen in slight smiles. They did not move their eyes from him. He looked up again as they passed and saw they were still staring, focused on him.
Their leather shoes clicked on the floor behind him as they proceeded towards the other end of the building. He spun around quickly, and saw they looked away from him abruptly as if caught in the act.
There were other times. In the van, driving through Sicily, he noticed Madeline watching him. The only woman on tour, she talked with him only a few times, but always seemed to be close by, always observing. She twirled a strand of red hair on a forefinger, and pretended to read a magazine. But, he saw her watching.
At Palermo, Mauricio held out a glass of wine. “The grapes we bought in Catania,” he began, “This wine was made from them. Grown on the volcanic soil of Mount Aetna.”
Denny looked at Mauricio’s ruggedly handsome face, his square chin, and brilliant smile, but noticed someone standing near the window on the side walk. Looking up, he saw Madeline, looking at them. She looked away, and continued walking. She had been following.
He had the feeling of being encircled. Since the tour began, he felt it. In Krakow, in the square; at the pub in Edinburgh; malicious entities and protectors, both were watching. Sub-consciously, he knew; hostility from some; security and protection from others.