Okay, so I'm a new fan of Welcome to Night Vale and I am completely and totally obsessed with it. I just finished episode 25. I was torn at the end: On one hand, Cecil and Carlos are together. On the other, one of my favorite characters in Night Vale died to make that happen. I've wanted to write some fluffy fics about Cecil and Carlos and probably will after episode 27. Still, I feel that the Apache Tracker deserves some recognition. Now, this is based on a headcanon of mine that the Man in the Tan Jacket and the Apache Tracker were either lovers or incredibly close friends. Side note: I describe the man as having a brown hat, as I imagine him wearing a fedora or something similar to shade his face. Enjoy!
The sun set red in Night Vale, as red as the blood of a man staggering through the streets, clinging to the last shreds of life. From the Car Lot, the non-existent angels that stayed with Old Woman Josie sang a haunting melody with voices that sounded like a cross between the twang of a harp string and the howling of a long-forgotten race of aerial monsters. Hooded figures walked silently along the borders of the Dog Park, their static-like voices melding with the dry desert wind.
The golden glow of the time-confused sun faded to a scarlet haze, painting everything with a pinkish varnish. The light illuminated the sidewalks with their red-flagged litter, the boarded-up Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, and the tan jacket of a man whose face was never remembered.
He somehow walked with a brisk but heavy stride, as if he was trying to move quickly while not actually wanting to, as if he was dreading what he would reach at the end of his speedy trek. His brown hat shadowed his nondescript face, which was tilted toward the ground. The hand clutching his leather briefcase was white at the knuckles.
As he neared the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, the Man in the Tan Jacket slowed down. He hesitated near the doorway, listening for the sound of movement. The slightest sounds echoed through the empty building from the cavern that contained the tiny underground city.
Glancing over his tan-clad shoulder, the man pulled the boards away from the door with one hand, gripping tightly even though he clearly didn't need to exert too much effort. (The boards had been very hastily nailed on.) He threw the boards to the side violently, snapping his wrist so that the wood clattered loudly against the walls.
The Man in the Tan Jacket took a deep breath before crouching under the boards that were still in place and entering the building. He straightened up, drawing in a sharp breath through his teeth as his eyes fell on a red puddle on the ground and a tattered, cartoonish Native American headdress.
Of course, the body had already been taken away by the City Council. All corpses were taken by the City Council at one point or another. It was hard to say what would happen to the Apache Tracker. Would he be devoured? Stuffed and mounted in a glass chamber somewhere? Ceremoniously burned in the middle of a bloodstone circle?
What did it matter? The body was only a vessel of earth and meat, as Cecil Baldwin had once so eloquently stated on his radio show. The beautiful, beautiful soul that had inhabited that body was gone forever to a place that was known only by angels and fellow dead souls.
The Man in the Tan Jacket didn't want or need a body. He hadn't needed anything, really. He had simply wanted to stand in that spot where a life ended, to kneel and pretend that a warm voice was speaking Russian into his ear, to imagine a Slavic-turned-Native American hand on his cheek, to pretend to look into eyes that knew him, even though they couldn't comprehend him. He wanted to mourn without any ears or radios present to be aware of his actions for once.
However, since the headdress was here, there was no avoiding taking it. It was a stupid sentiment, sure, but it would be nice to have at least one memento. And, since it was there, the idea of someone else taking it when he had the power to claim it was absolutely out of the question. Carefully, the Man in the Tan Jacket knelt in the drying blood and opened his leather briefcase.
The flies didn't swarm out as they usually did. Instead, they hummed softly, their wings fluttering, and crawled from their cramped home and up their master's arms and torso until the tan jacket was coated with a black, moving mass. They flapped their wings even more without actually flying, creating a soothing, minute gust of air on the man's skin. A few flies flew onto his hand as it reached for the bloodstained headdress and lightly stroked his wrist with their tiny legs. One perched on his right ear, droning a soft song of day-long lifespans and carrion.
The Man in the Tan Jacket held the headdress in trembling hands, a sob escaping his throat. He looked at the tacky, plastic, rainbow-colored feathers and brought them to his face, inhaling deeply. In spite of the blood, there was still a trace of the owner's scent. Committing the smell to memory, the man then placed the headdress reverently into his briefcase.
As soon as this was done, the flies flew from their perches and back into the case, lapping up drops of blood and nestling between feathers. The fly on the man's ear hovered in front of his face and touched his nose briefly before joining its fellows as the case was closed with a snap.
Tears streamed down his cheeks and dripped to the ground, mingling with the blood. In his mind, the Man in the Tan Jacket heard a soft, gentle voice whispering in his ear one last time: "Я люблю тебя."
Eventually, he stood up and walked out of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex. He didn't bother boarding the place up again. It would be re-opened or re-purposed within the week, most likely. It didn't matter. It was only a building.
The Man in the Tan Jacket walked slowly and heavily down the streets of Night Vale, with the gait of one who didn't care where he was going or when he would get there. He passed people who looked at him and would be unable to describe him within a few seconds. He passed the Car Lot and its singing angels, the bloodstone circles that decorated citizens' front yards, and the Radio Station, where a simultaneously relieved and regretful Cecil Baldwin was saying unto the town:
"Good night, Night Vale. Good night."
Я люблю тебя = I love you.
Okay, I've said my bit for the Apache Tracker, who I never considered to be a jerk. I hope to get caught up with the entire series within this next week and to write some Cecilos to alleviate the pain of losing such an awesome character. Please review, dear readers, but be careful: Incorrect reviews will be met with immediate and painful re-education or a surprise visit by hooded figures in the middle of the night.
Rest in Peace, Apache Tracker. The Man in the Tan Jacket shall remember you as no one can ever remember him.