The Nice Thing About Strangers

Two small boys track the line of workers trimming the palm trees. The men in green jumpsuits stare up at the man-lift. The boys nod at each other with tight-lipped smiles and start in motion. The slightly smaller of the boys unfolds the large package in his hand. He takes out a gruesome mask–a green and red face, half pig and half monster. The mask has a tuft of black hair at the top. He tugs the rubber mask over his face, despite the August heat, and roars as he approaches the first few workers.  Large fronds fall around the men and boys, but most of the men ignore the growling, gaze right over the boy’s head at women passing by, or sometimes briefly glance at their work. Finally a man near the middle, caught off guard, gives a small leap and a double-take on account of the costumed boy. The…

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