"Allen... over here!" A dancer swayed to the relaxed crooning which swept the sun-baked promenade. Streamers shook with the wind, the bright palette of colors a perfect accent to the upbeat rapport of the festivities. The slew of people convened in the center of the street, surrounding the vendors and performers coin in hand.
"Allen! Are you even paying attention?" A gesture of recognition must have been made, for it must have been received, because the instigator of the conversation seemed to truck on. "Where have you been? We have to get over to the plaza before the parade starts!"
Allen shrugged uncomfortably, rubbing the back of his head and pulling off a bemused smile still only half empathetic to the situation pledged by the emphatic character before him. His thick brow furrowed and his dark features hung heavy on his face, which gave him a look of constant frustration.
"Oh, Terry – right... I guess we should get going..." The thought of trading the thrilling uncertainty that was downtown for the shielded existence of the plaza had been gradually driving the nail deeper and deeper into the realm of being that was his consciousness until its presence – which manifested itself in the arrival of the event's messenger – became completely unbearable to him.
Together Terry and Allen trekked past the thick crowds which surged around them, each step a step on the face of Allen's felled spirit. The salty sea aroma was drifting further and further behind him, along with the crash of the waves against the docking ships and the bustle of the port.
"Terry! Allen! You're here!" The voice was faint, but distinct – and girly. The boys turned to see a bright face, and an infectious smile which inspired all of those who saw it to make the misconception that she was having a good time. She grabbed for Allen's hand and pulled him toward the rest of their friends, whom Terry had already joined. He muttered a greeting but she paid no attention and drug him forward. Finally releasing him from her grip and into the others, she turned, her smile looking almost painful to sustain in its enormity. "Terry and Allen are here!"
"Thanks Marlene, now the whole city knows," jeered a heavy-set boy who grinned charismatically and jabbing Allen on the arm.
"Hey guys... where's everybody else?" Allen said happily, looking around for the two missing fellows he commonly found himself with.
"You mean where's Connie?" Marlene remarked with a slight tilt of her head and a sass which caught him off guard.
"No – that's ridiculous, I-"
"Oh shut up," she said, much to the groups enjoyment. "Everyone knows you like her!" she said batting her eyes and gripping Allen's shoulders. "Just tell her already Allen!" Allen just blinked, mouth gaping as though gravity would suck the words out of him.
"It's not that, I just don't think-"
"Wait! The parade is finally coming this way!" Rodge ushered Allen out of Marlene's grip and turned the pair toward the oncoming parade. The crowd of people which encompassed the population of the plaza reconvened to the sides to allow the parade to pass. Children hopped up onto the shoulders of their parents and people climbed up on rooftops. This was the parade's first stop in a series of shows it would perform today, and nobody wanted to miss it.
Allen squinted as the suns rays splashed his eyes, turning his head up and down at the enclosing members of the parade. Their dress was spectacular, garnished in a royal blue with gold buttons sprinkling the outfit. Men juggled a wide array of objects, some lit aflame and others sharpened, and some an even more dangerous combination of the two.
The wall of sound procured from the brass rose above the dull roar created by the synchronized clack of their leather boots on the cobblestone. The snares rattled in complicated patterns, as the marchers gathered in the square to start the real show.
Allen looked over at Terry, tugging on his sleeve. "Don't you think we should go look for Blanche or Connie? They're going to miss this..." he pleaded.
"I'm trying to watch this!" hissed Terry. However, seeing the angry look sprawled on his face, and his disposition lightened. "Look it's almost sundown anyways, and we wouldn't be able to find them when it's dark anyways."
A little unsatisfied, Allen returned his eyes back onto the show. The band was roaring out a brilliant upbeat tune, and dancers were spinning and throwing one other up in the air. Allen's worries were shafted to a vacant spot at the back of his head, his eyes feasting on the wonders before him. His mouth gaped and his eyes glazed over in a drool-inducing fashion, though somewhere, and somehow, he had been conscious enough to feel the tingle of fingers grazing the contents of his pocket.
For a second, Allen nearly dismissed the sensation – but curiosity wrung him from his dreary state, and he patted down his pockets. And then he patted them down again. And again.
His wallet was still gone every time.
"Oh come on! My wallet – that guy stole my wallet!" He spun at his heel, scanning the crowd and ignoring the assorted of hushes which had erupted from it. They were – despite his loud ramblings which had continued in increasing vigor – entirely amiss to his troubles. He looked for anything moving – anything who had diverted their attention entirely away from the event at hand. Of course, skulking in the back, head down like a hunting cougar, a cloaked figure whisked away from the scene of his crime. Allen didn't have to ponder his intentions; nor did he have time to question his ability to stop any kind of ruffian. Rather, he simply ran off of the fumes exhausted in his own fit of rage.
"STOP HIM HE'S GOT MY WALLET!" roared Allen, shoving several members of the senior community and a clergyman into the adjacent space and charging forward, eyes wide with anger.
Apprehensive, the thief turned his head back to gage the situation, only to see a bullheaded monster gaining on him. Soon feeling a little lighter, he sprinted as fast as he could, arms back and chest on fire. Almost all of the allies back in this part of town were dead ends. All except...
Allen's eyes were glued onto the hooded man, so much so that he didn't even feel the sun begin to sink on his back. All details were lost into the oblivion of his pursuit – even when the blare of the band absconded, folding deep into the blanket of the twilit sky. In a flash of precision and agility, the thief made a sharp dive into an alley and was lost into the heart of the city.
"Ah..." he heaved, taking a knee and bowing his head in rest. Shadows of buildings covered the alley, resting on his back and sending a small chill up his spine. The night wasn't particularly cold; the tropical weather of the location prevented that. The cold instead radiated from the stone lining of the alley, the bricks of the street all which hadn't seen sunlight since they had first been set.
"Allen!" called a rowdy voice, enclosing on Allen's location and throwing his hands upon his knees and head bobbing. "I was... a little behind you... heard you yell..." He paused a little bit, and then finally stood upright. It was Rodge.
"He got away..." Allen stood up, brushing off of his pants and smiling. "Good thing I only had 12 dollars in there,"
"You idiot," he jabbed, pushing Allen's shoulder and stepping forward into the alley. "Now where the hell are we?"
"I have no idea... I've never been back here before..." It hadn't really hit him, but the chase had gotten him lost. Rodge just looked at him and exhaled gruffly.
"Well let's just retrace our steps then,"
"Alright,"Allen complied, feigning confidence.
Silence. The pair looked at one another for a second.
"Well... how about we climb up on one of these roofs? We could see how to get back," Allen suggested to ease out of the awkward moment. He walked a little bit, motioning towards a haggard old ladder lying next to a couple of barrels full of grain under the window of the back of an old merchant's store. He held it up to Rodge, who seemed to say the least, unimpressed.
"I dunno Allen... it seems kind of-"
"Shabby? Come on – she'll hold!" Reassured Allen giving the ladder a spank and propping it against the wall.
"Allen we can't do this," Rodge said, trying to at the very least get Allen to reconsider.
"And why not?"
"Because – what if the ladder falls down -or what if it breaks? We could get stuck up there!" Rodge smiled. He was glad he had thought of a reason not to make the ascent up the loose prongs of death attached by a splinter to the presumed instrument of his downfall.
Allen considered this for a moment, placing it up against the wall and sliding his hand across the side.
"Come on Rodge... don't be such a baby," he chided.
"I'm not being a baby, I just thought-"
"Do you want to stay here and watch the ladder?"
"Well – I guess – I mean... somebody has to," Rodge finished, satisfied at his saving face. Allen nodded, and then cautiously crept up the ladder and onto a small window ledge. The ladder fell a few feet short of the roof, and Allen feared the bending prong might snap completely if he used it to jump. He shimmied onto the ledge first with his arms, holding himself diagonal before swinging his legs around and pulling himself onto the outside of the window.
"Hey, be careful up there will you?" Called Rodge, not knowing entirely what to do with himself at that point.
"Don't worry about me, you just watch out for bandits!" Allen grinned, and heaved himself up onto the roof.