[My first response to the Daily Prompt: Hope]
A street vendor swept down from the yellowish mid-day sky, alighted on a wobbly, graffiti-covered park bench, which caused him to buck and sway for delicate moments as if on a precarious tightrope. When he finally acquired his balance, he unfurled like a bat, displaying the dollar wares tucked tightly within the inner folds and secretive pockets of his checkered and multi-layered cape. His smile was uncomfortable, his eyes shifty, and he reeked like swine with a spritz of patchouli. He adjusted his blood-red and soiled cap, which read, “MAGA Man,” in gaudy golden script, and hollered in a raspy, yet hypnotic, voice,
Hope, dreams, and greatness! Available to all! Cheap! Wanna color? Cheap! Got ya color! Cheap! Any color! Cheap!
The chirping drew a large crowd, which oozed from the tight and concealed alleyways and congested buildings like a heavy malaise upon the walkways, coalescing into a long, tortuous line before him, meandering for blocks beyond sight or measure. Their feet drummed along as if in sync to some silent bass booming from the rooftops. As they approached the peddler, they handed him money, and peanuts, and lint, or whatever they had within their grasps or tucked deep within their pockets and bags (the peddler seemed indiscriminate as to the accepted form of payment), in return for which the peddler placed multi-colored strips of paper in their hands, which they received with joy and gusto.
As members of the crowd walked by, holding the strips of paper before them with pride and confidence, I glimpsed golden words inscribed thereon, such as “Hope,” “Change,” and “Greatness.” They kissed the strips with their pursed lips, smiling as if in a trance, and plodded into the bustling streets amongst the restless cars and buses, without care or bother. Oblivious to the horns and shouts, they oozed back into their hovels and structures, at peace with the world of the peddler.
Unable to stomach the sight any longer, I turned to flee from the peddler’s market but bumped into a bubbling-nosed child beaming up at his purple-colored “Hope” strip gripped tightly between his tiny, chocolate-stained fingers. He grinned and offered up his strip for my perusal, which I took hesitantly. As the boy released the strip, it vanished into a puff of purple smoke, causing him to gasp in horror. Then a cacophony of bleating filled the air from the shocked and enraged customers, as multi-colored puffs rose all over the city. I glanced up at the peddler, who gave me a sinister wink then flew off into the rainbow-colored sky.