“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested.” (Kafka, The Trial)

The bathroom window opposite his slammed shut. Allen glanced up just in time to see the whiteness of her flesh before the curtains closed. He resumed his work on the sill, scraping up layers of toxic paint. What to say the next time they passed? What could he say without seeming to verify his guilt? “She must have thought I was spying on her,” he complained to his wife that evening in bed. She looked up from her Kindle. “Were you?”

Allen was not carrying a concealed weapon. He was not bringing alcohol into the area. He was not littering, and he had no intention of doing so, having stuffed the foil wrapper into his jogging shorts for disposal in one of the bins along the greenway. He was not skateboarding. He was not making any excessive noise or otherwise disturbing the peace. Finally, he was not a registered sex offender under federal law or the law of any state and thus not prohibited from entering any public park or recreational facility operated by the City of Asheville (Ordinance #3728). Yet reading the sign he experienced a vague and unaccountable fear, as in a dream, even as an innocent man facing a polygraph test may suffer a mild panic.

[Continued in Confrontation 117]

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