SmokeLong Quarterly
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The Suspect
by Joseph Young

Torment of a Lost Ecstasy
You see? He's alone.


So it makes him suspect.

As if on cue, the crowd along the sidewalk pulled away on both sides, leaving the man within an empty backdrop of brick wall.

Why should they be suspicious?

Well, what kind of a man is alone? One that's flawed. Unhealthy.

The man turned his back to the street and faced the wall. He placed his hands on the bricks and spread his fingers. As he pushed, he rolled his head slowly around his shoulders.

He's out for a walk. For exercise.

He's still alone in a crowd.

The man left the busy sidewalk, crossed at the corner, and cut across the park lawn. As he walked, the crashing of the rock band grew quieter. When he reached the trees on the far, far side, he lit a cigarette and cupped one hand around the smooth brown bark.

While he smoked, he thought of the little girl he'd bought a popsicle for at the 7-11. "Tell the nice man thank you, Brittany! Don't be so rude." The little girl curled her nose, glaring at her mother.

"She's shy," he said now, to a wasp cutting the air, an empty soda bottle. "It's okay."

He finished his cigarette and left the park, strolling slowly. When he got to his house, he stood a moment on the marble landing. He could hear the band playing when the wind blew in his direction. Perhaps I'll go back and listen some more, he thought, but he didn't move, just felt the hot evening sun on his arms.

You see? Now he'll go inside.

Maybe he has a family in there, children.

Yes, maybe he does.

Then he's okay. He's all right.

The man drew a heavy breath and climbed the dark stairs, the radio still playing in the kitchen.

No, I don't think so. I don't think he's all right at all.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Joseph Young's stories and poems have appeared in a variety of magazines. For links to his work and a lot of other fun stuff, please visit his website at

Read the interview.
Issue Six (October 15, 2004): Money on the Eyes by Ian Kita «» Fire. Water. by Avital Gad-Cykman «» On the Inside of a Horseís Skull by Daphne Buter «» Breakfast in America by Angela Delarmente «» Broodiness by Alicia Gifford «» The Suspect by Joseph Young «» Picnic by Robin Slick «» Rabbit Karma by Bea Pantoja «» Grateful by Lisa K. Buchanan «» Getting Religion by Carol Novack «» The Green Dress by Beverly Jackson «» Smoky Clothes by Ellen Parker «» Shopping List by Liesl Jobson «» The Nub by Jordan E. Rosenfeld «» Swallow Whole by Spencer Dew «» Dead Weight by Jensen Whelan «» Instructions for a Son upon Finding Something of his Fatherís by Robert S. Jersak «» 201 Feet by Andrew Tibbetts «» Slip it In by Myfanwy Collins «» Frostbite by Katrina Denza «» Interviews: Ian Kita «» Avital Gad-Cykman «» Daphne Buter «» Anglea Delarmente «» Alicia Gifford «» Joseph Young «» Robin Slick «» Bea Pantoja «» Lisa K. Buchanan «» Carol Novack «» Beverly Jackson «» Ellen Parker «» Liesl Jobson «» Jordan E. Rosenfeld «» Spencer Dew «» Jensen Whelan «» Robert S. Jersak «» Andrew Tibbetts «» Myfanwy Collins «» Katrina Denza «» Cover Art "Torment of a Lost Ecstasy" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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