Stick to the Path

I wasn't paying attention. Walking down Queen Street and back to work, thinking of the things we'd talked about in the meetings I'd had up at Hereford Street. I didn't even notice the intersection had stopped cars in it until a guy walking up the hill said something to me. I didn't quite hear what he said so made the universal sound of inquiry "Hmm?" as I looked up at him. He was tall and lean. He seemed middle-aged judging by the grey in his moustache, dressed in faded blue jeans and carrying a backpack over one shoulder. Now I think of it, he might not have heard my inquiring sound as my voice is husky and unreliable at the moment. If he answered my squeaky question I didn't hear him because it was about then that I realised what had stopped the cars.

There was a road-rage screaming-match going on between a man in a station wagon and another car full of teenage boys. Their respective cars were blocking other vehicles from entering or leaving the side street and there was a mini-traffic jam. Eff-yous and birds were being flipped all over the place. It wasn't clear what had sparked the incident but without fists flying, it wasn't terribly interesting, so I weaved my way through their cars and continued on my way back to work.

As I was crossing the main road, I looked up and down the street to avoid any on-coming traffic when I noticed the man who had spoken to me at the intersection was behind me. I thought that was strange. Now he was behind me walking down Queen Street when he had been walking up the road when he spoke to me. I continued down Queen, turning into the side street on the way to my building. I looked again for traffic crossing into another side street and saw the man again; still behind me. Near the end of that small side street I turned and saw him again. Was he following me? He seemed to be following me.

The back of my building is access up a narrow flight of concrete steps. It's a secure building and requires a swipe card to access it. I hoped he wasn't following me because I wasn't quite sure what I would do about that. Maybe he worked in the building too, though his clothing was a little too casual even for our office. Maybe I was wrong and he was just taking a shortcut to Airedale Street and not following me at all. I turned to see he hadn't gone in the direction of the public steps to Airedale but was crossing the road right behind me.

I went quickly up the narrow concrete steps that lead to the back door. I turned to see he if he was following me up the stairs to see he wasn't. He wasn't following me at all. He must've had business elsewhere and it was just a coincidence. I swiped my card, chastising myself for being a paranoid and reminding myself that not everything is about me all the time.

Pulling open the door I stepped into the building, pushing the door shut and making sure it was secure, I looked up through the security mesh that covered the glass doors to see the man standing on the top of the steps, looking at me.