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Wall Flower

By Allison Cantalini

The wind wiped his hair about as he veered around cars. Racing up the street he expertly maneuvered through traffic at a pace that caused a few drivers to yell curses out their windows. Alec Mancini returned them with vigor and a smile that lacked any pleasantry. Sirens could still be heard above the uproar even though the police must be a few streets back by now. He thrived in the havoc he spread.

The city had come alive for him. Alec could feel the power of the engine beneath him. It reacted to his slightest touch and at that moment it felt as if the world did too. Heads turned as he passed. It was odd, he was a wanted man but for the first time he felt as if he was finally in control of his life. There was no more hiding or pretending to be polite to snot nosed tourist. Now they moved for him.

At that moment a police car whipped around the corner in front of him, sirens blaring. It raced towards him, intent on cutting him off.

Alec knew the streets of the city as well as any who made there living on the wrong side of the law. Because of that he easily disappeared into one of the hidden alleys before the police could catch him. A smug smile spread across as he listened to the yells of the officers. They had just discovered that their cars were too wide to fit through the narrow alley. Alec knew they would be back on foot or with bikes, but he didn't care. By then he would probably be mingling with the flocks of tourists around Trevi Fountain or maybe the Spanish Steps. He might even nick a wallet or two for the fun of it.

Unfortunately his plans were soon altered by the status of the gas gauge. The little red line had hit the bottom. Alec let fly a string of curses. Now he would have to find a place to hide out until the fuss died down. Then he would find somewhere to fill up.

Just as his engine was beginning to sputter he spotted a back street that wound between two decrepit buildings. At the end of the laneway he came upon a rusty iron gate. It hung ajar revealing a short passageway. Alec cautiously wheeled his bike through the opening. Inside a single light bulb gave an ominous glow to the faded graffiti that sprawled across the walls and ceiling, even the floor. Peering at the various scrawled writing he noticed something strange. The words were twisted and warped as if someone had pulled them across the wall at weird angles. Some even appeared backwards or upside down. He was running his hand along the odd lettering when he felt a sharp pain in his finger. Pulling back from the wall he inspected to the scratch. Blood was already beginning to well up in the wound. Looking back to the stonework to find the cause of this injury, his breathe caught in his throat. A pinprick of blood had stained the wall. Out from it tentacles of red reached away in all directions, leaving a rosy tint in its wake. He watched in awed fascination as the graffiti closest to him slowly began to move, as if waking up from a deep slumber. The letters twisted and twined around each other, expanding and contracting in a regular pattern that made it seem almost as if they were breathing. Soon the passageway had come alive with the vandalism that had rested upon its walls only seconds before.

Alec was captivated by the strangeness that lay before his very eyes. Reaching out he placed his hand gingerly on the wall before him. Staring in horror at the place where his wrist met the wall, he heard himself let out a cry of shock. His hand had merged into the wall leaving only what appeared to be a spray paint tracing on the stone. Terrified, he yanked his hand from the wall with such force that he fell back, colliding with his motorbike. Sporting a few new bruises he righted himself and the bike and returned to staring at the wall. The graffiti had gathered at the place where his hand had been, twining around the spot like a faithful cat waiting to be scratched. Alec shivered. It was like the wall took part of his humanity as he merged with it. For a split second he became one with every road and building in Rome, for they were all connected. He had lost himself in something bigger then he had ever known. It had scared and enthralled him at the same time. He stood staring fixedly at the morphing graffiti for many long moments before the spell was broken by the now familiar sound of sirens. Instinctively he jumped on his bike and turned the ignition. The engine sputtered but failed to engage.

Discouraged, he then ran to the gates hoping to have time to get a head start but he could hear the police running through the laneway towards him. Close to panic now he tried the doorway at the other end only to find it locked. He could hear the blood beating in his ears as he threw himself at the exit. But it was a pointless effort. The heavy door would not yield to him.

He cast around in one final hope of a miracle and saw the living vandalism that covered the wall. Questions flew around his head. What if he went all the way into the wall? What would happen? Could he get out again? All he knew was the police wouldn't be able to get him.

He stepped towards the spot where his handprint still showed faintly on the wall. He reached towards it but hesitated. If he went into the wall he would loose everything that made him the person he was. He could forget his problems and worries and just be at peace but he might never be able to come back. He was only 17, he had his whole life ahead of him but it wouldn't matter much if he spent it in prison. With a sickening thought he realized he might never see his mother again, but then again, if he was arrested he would be a disgrace to the family, and she may never want to see him again. With that in mind, he took a deep breath and stepped into the wall. Each feature that merged with the wall was replaced by a spray paint representation. As his last heel left the passage the Graffiti stilled. A second later officers burst through the gate to find the hall deserted. After a brief search they left to comb the rest of the alleyways. None of them noticed the spray painted image of that very teenager with his mouth frozen in a mocking smile.

Soon the world would forget Alec Mancini and continue with its tedious existence. But the motorbike would stay in the passage awaiting its rider's return, dreaming of freedom.

Did You Know

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