Later that night, although the air was still just this side of stifling, the man pulled his jacket collar almost to his ears and slipped away from the carnival set-up. No one marked his passage through the empty lots at the far end of Bushell, and he was intent only on the tall yellow house he remembered.
Crouching in the dubious cover of a neighbor’s spindly, end-of-summer garden, he watched a spare, older woman—she matched the house—empty a dish pan into the flower pot by her back door. He was aware of the movement of pale curtains at the gabled window over the porch, stirred by the faintest breath of the night. When the lights went out downstairs, the yellow house was completely dark.
Upstairs, Rosemary sat at her window, listening to the night. She caught the faintest rumble of hammers and voices and thought it sounded almost like the crew was singing curses at each other as they strained to raise the Blake Brothers Big-Top Bonanza Extravaganza. She dreamed of sights she would never see. What must a tiger look like? Or a snake charmer, or a Wild Man of Borneo?
She jumped as a flurry of pebbles rained against the shutters folded back to either side of her window. There was a faint, soft scratching, then silence. Again, the pebbles pattered on the wood.
This was better than any book or movie, Rosemary thought, and more mysterious. She leaned toward the window, tensed to catch the slightest movement from the street.
“Howdy,” a man’s voice said, almost in Rosemary’s ear. “I’m Jack.”
Rosemary jerked back, grazing the side of her face on the frame of the window. Before she could raise her hand to the scrape, cool fingers were there, trembling over her skin.
“Who are you?” Rosemary whispered, turning her face into his hand, following its touch.
He marveled that she did not turn away from the sight of him, until he understood she was sightless.
“I’m Jack,” he said again, and that was enough.