There was always a taxi waiting at the corner of Fiftieth and Virginia, and he was playing with a coin in his hand as he rounded the corner to see him standing there. He dropped it suddenly, and heard it fall, but didn’t respond. He opened the door to the taxi and sat down inside. He sunk into the backseat as he told the cab driver where he was headed; he inconspicuously looked toward the spot where he was standing when the coin fell from his hand, trying to see something, and he wasn’t sure if he did or not, but he said something under his breath.
Having reached his destination, he got out and paid the cab driver exact change plus tip, thanking him warmly and making grave eye contact that said, “Please have a good day.” Smiling now, he walked past a woman who was pushing a baby carriage and she dropped a bundle of mail that was under her arm as she reached to put the sunshade over her baby’s eyes. He stopped to pick it up and put it in her diaper bag, but not before reaching into his pocket and jingling the bottom where everything had collected. He made friendly but impersonal conversation with her and saw her on her way. As they parted ways, he mumbled something under his breath. He didn’t eat too much at home, and therefore decided to stop and have a chilidog. He had a good strong stomach and could handle beans, chili, cheese, hot sauce, and onions at 9 am on an empty stomach. He paid the stand owner in exact change and leaned against the stair-rail of a vacant apartment front as he ate. He looked across the street, starting at the bottom and following the rows of windows that reached many stories above his head and looked to get smaller as they went. His eyes reached the top and he saw the clouds moving steadily by, and in the small space between the tops of the buildings that surrounded him, the illusion made him dizzy. He looked down across the street again and there was a stairway leading up to an apartment complex. It was really a small set of stairs on either side that met halfway up on their way to the front door, creating a T-shape. The top of that T created a brick wall about shoulder height with a flowerbed at the bottom where there stood a for rent sign. He finished his brunch and walked across the street carefully. Once there he walked up the stairs and saw the lock box on the doorknob. The trim and the door were painted a bright white and fit snugly together, feigning that the apartment inside was in better shape than it truly was. His eyes followed the jamb from the bottom left, all the way around the top, and down to the bottom right. He found a suitable spot and reached into his pocket. He stuck a penny in between the door and the jamb where only half was showing. Heading down the first few stairs, he was staring directly down his street and had never noticed the view from this point before. It was a little higher and farther away from the street itself, and allowed for a nice view. Mr. Horner was compelled to walk back down in that direction, even though his original intention was to head east and then north on 110th. He was now at the bottom of the stairs and took a flyer out of the box, folded it perfectly and put it in his coat pocket. Now on the sidewalk, he saw a penny at his feet and picked it up. Looking at it, he noticed the texture was rough on the front, as if it had been run over in the street. He rubbed it with his thumb as if smoothing it out, and put it in his other pocket. He looked to his left and right, and saw automobiles in the street, but calmly walked across in the intervals between the cars heading in opposite directions.
As he was walking back down his street, he was nearing his house and simply walked, doing nothing until he was a block or so away. He wondered if his wife had left yet, and made a birdcall that he knew could be heard from her window. A few seconds later the kitchen light blinked on and off, and he walked on by.