Alice said to the red-dressed man whom she found one day, "Are you lost?"
"I've lost many things in my day, but I can't say I've ever had trouble finding myself
no I am not lost, but I have lost something rather important
but be gone with you! I can find it myself. I can find my way."
Alice thought the man to be quite rude, and she decided to walk away , not caring at all where the man's way was.
"Are you lost?" Asked the man, stepping over to Alice.
"No I am not, but I'd be if you'd not follow me."
"But I'm not. I'm following your shadow, and it is your shadow who I was asking. It seemed unsure of where it was going. Quite funny aren't they?"
"What are?" Asked Alice, her voice rising.
"Shadows of course." answered the man.
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."
"well that's a silly thing to be afraid of! I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I'd hate to cause you to be scared. I'm talking about shadows. They never quite know where they're going."
"Shadows don't know where they're going?" Asked Alice in a manner as so to propose that the red-dressed man had lost his mind rather than his way.
"Not all of them. Just the shadows of course. It's ironic that shadows of course don't know where they're headed. I really do find it just the funniest thing."
And again Alice asked much the same question, even more flustered than when she had before. "Shadow's don't know where they're going?"
"Yes well, being lost as they are, shadows of course will follow a complete stranger blindly, and yet they always seem know which direction the sun is facing. It's curious
"Well I don't think it curious or funny, and I'll have you know that I'm not a stranger to my shadow at all." Replied Alice, only becoming madder at the man.
"Maybe... You've probably known him all your life, or perhaps her, and maybe even it, but tell me, has your shadow ever even once looked at you or spoken to you?" Asked the man, quite content to prove Alice's stupidity.
"Of course not!" Shouted Alice. "It's not even alive!"
"Then you killed it!" Shouted the man, who began to scream of murder a bloodshed.
"I have not killed it you silly man!" Assuring the man.
"Then it hasn't been born yet? I must say, I've never met a shadow who doesn't exist yet. Does this mean you aren't real either?"
"It has never been alive, nor dead, nor anything but my shadow! It won't be born, and will you please stop yelling like that! You'll bother the police!"
The red-dressed man stopped his ranting quite quickly to ask Alice, "Why? Don't you wish to bother them?"
"Of course I don't!"
"Well I rather enjoy bothering the Police. I bothered one for directions not ten minutes ago, and he was very helpful and a pleasure to talk to."
"I didn't mean it that way." Said Alice. "So please leave me and my shadow alone!"
"I have no business with a shadow that's never been alive. I don't like talking to things that move on their own but aren't alive to justify it. I don't like shadow puppets, and they're quite abnormal if you ask me."
" said Alice as she stomped away in a fit.
Before she could make her way across six feet of road, the red-dressed man felt sorry for upsetting Alice so, and asked her "Are you mad?"
Believing that she had caught on to the man's infuriating ways, Alice replied, "Yes I am sir. I am mad, but not in the way of lunacy as you might have! I am angry with you!"
"Well I'm sorry for that, and I meant no insult by my asking."
"Well never the less I am mad, and the cause is your fault."
"I'm sorry, but I wasn't aware that I had any faults. I thought myself to be quite smooth and sensible, I got rid of my faults yesterday when the trash was picked up." said the man, again resorting to what Alice would later call 'idiocy' in her diary.
"Well you're not! You have many faults!" replied Alice.
After an awkward moment to check himself over for cracks in his skin and folds in his clothes (and finding one inevitably, smoothing it out immediately), the red-dressed man found his hat upon his head and once again asked Alice a question. "Do you like my hat? I love wearing a red hat. It always reminded me of my mother"
"I don't care." Alice retorted.
"Then I'm not surprised your shadow was born un-alive. I would do it to if my shadow didn't care."
"Shut up!" Screamed Alice. "I don't care about you or your stupid red hat!"
"Then I suppose you won't be asking me why it reminds me of my mother." said the man, sullen and upset that Alice wouldn't care.
"No I won't." she said. "And you'd best be off before I really lose my temper."
"Ha! I got the best of your temper well over four minutes ago, so you can't leave! I can't be off anyway. It's rude to steal someone's belongings, and anyway it's my hat that's on me, not the other way around."
"Not off your hat, away from me!"
"I best be a way from you? I think not. I'm better off not from you, but from my mother, and I didn't think I was any sort of way at all. I'm especially not the sort of way that comes from someone I don't know. I thought was closer to a Methodist. You'll remember, I'm quite methodical. U, I, and R and all that..."
Alice couldn't have been madder at the man right then. She would have stormed off at any moment if she didn't believe this infuriating man would follow her, trying to calm down that storm because it was unsettling his hat. "Fine then! Why does your hat remind you of your mother?"
"Because she never liked red, that's why." Said the man with a smile on his face.
"Why do you insist on your hat?" asked Alice, with a tone of defeat in her voice.
"I'll have you know that I don't. I insist underneath it. I thought we'd already been over this, about it being over me. It was not long after I was talking to your shadow. Not long ago from now either. I guess it wasn't very long at all, so it's understandable you would forget it."
"Then why do you persist with my shadow?" Asked Alice, careful not to say 'insist on.'
"I don't do that either. I persist next to it but not with it. I already told you as well that I don't like things that move that aren't alive."
Alice couldn't win. She was really catching on to the man's strange ways, and she was beginning to give in. "I suppose you don't persist over it either?"
"Correct!" exclaimed the man with a wide gin. "Never on top. Right now I'm next to it, but I could never be on top. Have you ever tried standing on a shadow? The funny things are too slippery, and they always end up on me instead. Except for my own shadow of course. She's a lovely thing. So supportive. Whenever I'm feeling down, I realize that that kind of thinking is beneath me (because she thinks the same way I do), and that raises my spirits."
"Well please," pleaded Alice. "I want nothing of you near me or my shadow, so please leave me alone so I may go." As tired of all this Alice was, she couldn't keep up with the banter of her oppressor.
"But I still have the best of your temper! You can't go without it!"
"Then give it back."
"Well why not?" Alice screeched, losing even more of it to the red-dressed man.
"I don't know how to give it. We can trade though."
"What do you want? My shadow?"
"Don't be absurd. You don't have anything I want. Not yet anyway
"Oh please..." Alice begged. "Please just forget it." and Alice again tried to leave.
"I can't." said the man.
"Well you started it, so you must anyway!"
The man turned around so as to better demonstrate this. "I always happens before U, so from your point of view, you, I, couldn't have started it. It's also quite rude to place blame or duty on someone who isn't involved. U isn't here right now, but U R. U R is here. They're on my pocket." The man reveled a monogrammed jacket pocket.
When he turned turned to look to Alice again, he saw that she was gone, leaving nothing but the sound a heavy footsteps in her place. To him it would seem she had been replaced.
"Well that's quite a talent!" Said the man to himself. "Being able to become those sounds like that. Though I never did like those sounds
they remind me of my brother. Let's see if I can't fix that."
He ran after the place where the sounds were coming from and found that he had indeed fixed it, for before him was Alice standing still and looking red in the face. She began, "I give up! I've finally caught onto your maddening ways, and I give up! There's no winning with you is there?"
"No." he said. "But there is trading. You say you've caught onto my ways, even though I'm Methodist, and you're giving them up? I'll gladly accept them and return the best of your temper."
Alice who had given up, was calmed and defeated. She had no anger to spare, so when the red-dressed man returned the best of her temper, she was without any doubt a well tempered girl. Having given up on trying to catch on to his ways, Alice was just as confused as she'd ever been.
"Well let's be off." He said to his shadow. It nodded, and coincidentally, he did too at the same time. "Let's go find you a friend. Maybe a dog's shadow, or a butler's. Anything would be better than a shadow-puppet.
The red-dressed man and his shadow leaped and danced down the road, leaving Alice to cry in her relief and defeat. They sang and jumped, and played with each other, and Alice could swear that she heard two voices
fading down the road.