Sage stood in the cold weather of November, his hands hidden in his thick winter coat as he watched his employers strolled side by side towards their car. Half way through, they looked back and waved at him; he waved back albeit half-heartedly.
He took in his surroundings, of what he could see clearly in the dark with the help of the lamp posts. While he liked things that are calm and not loud, he would have preferred it in places that are less dark.
It was quiet, too quiet that there wasn't the usual far away sounds of people shouting at a match, soft music playing on a radio somewhere in the buildings, or even animals fighting in an alley.
He couldn't really tell what was different, but when he focused a little harder, he knew it was because of the still and palpable atmosphere permeating in the air, and he felt himself growing uncomfortable. He was trapped between buildings across and behind him, all of which seemed dead; the shop lots were vibrant during the day and evenings with people walking about but for this particular night, it felt like a ghost town.
Some places that were still open was a couple of drug and convenience stores, which store lights were faint inside. The only thing that made it look less ominous was the small, colourful and twinkling fairy lights with ornaments decorated on it, an attempt to give some life to the dull place in early preparation of Christmas.
As his routine after work, he started for his place, several blocks away from the bar he worked, following the guide of the lamp lights illuminating his way. The wind was biting that night and Sage fastened his pace. He knew in a hundred more steps, he would round the corner where he would be more appreciative of his surroundings; a park with a stretch of glimmering buildings and skyscrapers of the city lights across the almost frozen river.
He paused mid-step when something caught his attention. Gazing up the night sky, he spotted snowflakes falling lightly to the ground, and he knew the place would soon look like it had cotton balls dotted the pavement.
Sage smiled to himself. He wondered what his family was up to back in his hometown. He couldn't remember when was the last time he was really excited for Christmas and other celebrations. Being the eldest son out of six siblings with an absentee father had made him grew up quickly, and Sage forgot about the things that had him excited back then. It felt like a distant memory to him now.
As he saw the horizon of glimmering cities in the stark dark night, and nearly no one in sight – with the exception of some people in the shadows whom he assumed was a couple – he thought the view never failed to fascinate him, even after three years moving to Chicago.
He had seen some things that had him slowly growing out of the thrill and awe of the place, that moments like this made him glad he still had wonder in him.
There was just a quiet beauty about it that left people feeling differently about the place at night, if they only only paid attention to it.
Sage briefly entertained the notion if he could get anymore intrigued at what he was seeing if he lived in one of those skyscraper apartments up there with a vast and colourful canvas of the city.
To be above the city and near the stars.
Would the feeling change, as with the perception of the view? He thought it might, though he knew he would enjoy it better.
He was a dreamer, and it was such a contrast from his practical self that he found himself chuckling quietly. But he long knew that it was alright to be both if he wanted to realise his dreams. Being a dreamer was one of the fewer things he knew hadn't change since he was a kid, a part of him that reminded himself he was still the same person he was growing up.
A couple of cars wheezed by him and Sage stepped to cross the road to get to the other block. Soft murmurs were carried through the wind and he heard them getting louder before a shrill scream rang through the night.
Startled, he looked up and around the faintly lit area, noting that the scream sounded like it came from the dark park.
His body froze, his mind racing with thoughts. What was that? Is someone in trouble? Of course they're in trouble. Did anyone around heard that? What do I do, what do I do, what do I do –
Sage willed his feet to move to the scene, but it felt heavy as though his feet were anchored to the ground.
Despite the dimmed area, even with the help of street lights, he spotted a couple not far away from him, walking leisurely before halting to a stop directly under the light. Across from him, he thought he saw two men half emerging from the alley shifting their body to the sound.
The scream was louder and this time with a terrified, "Help!"
They're looking at me. Were they waiting for either of us to make a move?
They must have heard the blood-curling scream – he knew they had to – but other than the position he thought people made when they were about to run, faces taut and focused, and bodies prepared for the sound of a whistle at a race – flight or fight mode, he remembered what it was – no one moved even though the whistle had sounded, coming from a person screaming for help.
He remembered it was called bystander effect, and ultimately one that could end a person's life in all context if there was nothing done about it.
Blood rushing and adrenaline pumping, he didn't hesitate and wonder anymore whether or not they would come to her. He imagined people who had heard it but are sitting at home probably had the same reaction as the other bystanders he saw, wondering themselves if others were going to do something about it.
In the biting wind, he sprint towards the sound and found two shadows grappling in the dark. It wasn't until they moved under the faint street light that he noticed the bigger shadow assaulting a woman.
Barrelling into his target, he threw his weight and pinned the shadow to the ground, making sure to have his limbs locked and unable to move. Thank God for all those wrestling practices in school.
Immediately, he shouted to her and to anyone else within hearing distance, "Call the cops!"
The girl quickly broke out of her stupor and scrambled into a search for what he assumed was her phone. Groaning, the assailant must have been shocked by the sudden weight but he quickly came out of the befuddled haze and put up a fight, trying to dislodge Sage's attack.
The two of them continued to scuffle and grapple in the dark, each throwing punches and dodging one another's attacks; Sage avoided some and received one in the jaw, although he managed to get several hits at the perpetrator. Despite Sage managing to hold out on his own, his opponent also managed to hold out his. He was dealing with a tough one.
It could have been a few minutes or more but Sage finally managed to deliver a swift and hard blow to the guy's face and he heard a cracking sound to it. He had aimed at the guy's nose and jaw and by the sound of it, it wasn't going to be pretty.
The man staggered backwards before his eyes rolled up and he dived for the ground.
Sage looked at the limp figure beneath him and quickly searched around him for anything useful he could use to tie the man up. After a futile search, he looked up only to remember the girl who was in a situation earlier. She looked at him wide eyed.
"Thank you," she said, voice emphatic with gratitude. She was shaking.
Sage swallowed, before nodding. "Are you alright? Did he hurt you?"
She was breathing heavily but shook her head vehemently. "I'm fine."
Sage stared at her for a little while, wondering if she was hurt but trying to hide them. Then, he nodded and remembered something. "Do you have anything to tie him up with?"
Her face were blank for a second before she went 'oh' and rummage her bag, producing a packet of cable ties a scant later.
Sage's brow rose. Cable ties? That's an odd thing to carry around. Odd, but useful.
Nevertheless, he took it and tied the man's wrists behind his back. By the look of the lump of body on the ground, Sage thought he would stay unconscious long enough until the cops arrived.
Both of them stood still as they processed what just happened. In the distance, the sound of siren blared through the dead city and Sage felt the tension slowly leaving his body. He chanced a look at the woman across him, nothing her still stricken face and dazed eyes.
Concerned, he said, "Hey, it's alright. You're alright, now. Everything's going to be okay."
She was still in a daze, though she nodded absent-mindedly. As if realising her state, she blinked and met his gaze. "I don't know what would have happen if you hadn't help me. Thank you again." She said with great emphasis.
He opened his mouth but faltered with the words when he couldn't think of something.
Sage usually feels somewhat uncomfortable when people seemed too earnest or if they showed their enthusiasm too much. To him, it felt a little like he was in an enclosed space and he was cornered – like he owed people a great deal. He knew he was being weird and he blamed it on his comfort zone of preferring his space a lot, with minimal friends to converse and not being entirely a social butterfly.
It was times like this that he was frustrated with himself. I'm not a completely reserved person, despite my lack of social skills. Now, say something, he thought to himself.
Yet, Sage couldn't bring his mouth to speak and kept his gaze at her. She was earnest and he felt her gratitude, which didn't make him feel like he owed things from her. He felt….pleasant, and useful.
He cleared his throat twice. "You're welcome." He murmured, his voice a little raspy.
They waited in silence after that, occasionally glancing at the unconscious man to make sure he wasn't up and about. Soon enough the police arrived, took the perpetrator and they both followed in the second car to give their statements regarding what happened.
Sage emerged from the station in the cold winter. He breathed and saw of puff of his breath in the air. He had never thought to end his night the way it did; going home from his shift with thoughts to continue his nightly routine but only to have something else happen in the things he hadn't anticipated.
But I didn't regret it.
He thought back to the girl in the station. She must have been so scared to be in that situation. Sage blew some warm air into his hands, rubbed and tucked them in his coat. He needed to get a new pair of gloves soon if he were to survive this increasingly cold weather.
Sage turned when he heard footsteps beside him. The girl looked at him with her warm brown eyes, the edges of her mouth curved into a smile.
"Thank you again for coming with me." She said softly. "Apparently, there's been some mugging cases recently and they've been looking for the guy who did it. He fits their descriptions too. I'm pressing charges against him, you know. To prevent this from happening again." Her voice quavered a little but her eyes were steel of determination.
"That's a good move." He nodded and thought he had heard of something similar happening around this area. Sage couldn't believe they had managed to catch the culprit but he was extremely glad they did. "Do you need to go to the hospital?" At her bemused look, he added hastily, "To see if there's any wounds. I'm just worried, that's all."
Something flickered in her eyes but it was gone before he could identify it. She smiled at him.
"Thank you, but I'm fine." The woman in front of him then let out a small laugh as if she was amused, and said, "But if you're really worried, I'll get them check on my way home." She started on her way but not before waving her hand to him, "Thanks again, Good Samaritan."
Sage watched her walk away. At that moment, he had this unknowable urge to stop her. To say something. Anything.
Should he have stayed and waited with her until her ride arrives? He didn't even know her name.
He frowned at himself. Why would he need to know that? What he need was to shut up before he sound just like a creep he just saved her from.
He sighed to himself. Sage shook his head and thought the one more thing he could do was at least wait with her, but just as he took a few steps towards her, a taxi halt to a stop, and he watched as she got in before it drove away.
But a small smile lit his features when he remembered what she called him. Good Samaritan.
He wouldn't go so far as to call himself that, but it was nice hearing it. With the smile still planted on his lips, he began the long walk towards the direction of his block.
I hope she gets home safely.ns 22.214.171.124da2