Saturday, July 24, 2010

One night

Only after the tornado had swept through did he dare go out in the night.  From the window he could see the rain boring down as cars cowered on the sides of the streets.  Cords of lightening marbleized the sky and flashed through the apartment, keeping his daughter from sleep.  After it was over the sidewalks were streaked with long isles of silt left by the overwhelmed storm drains.  But people were venturing out, and the strange tornado had passed.

He met his two friends at the wine bar.  Above the din he could hear R&B songs he loved and knew well.  Occasionally voices would sing along with them.  The bar closed at a fairly early hour but they were still there as the tempo of the music picked up, as the bartender strutted behind the counter.  After the bottle of red was gone they ordered sangria.  This place made him feel sleek, that the people in the room were like the multitudes inside him.

They went to another bar, smaller and emptier.  He found refuge in vodka.  One of his friends had to leave, but the two remained.  The bartender was an artist who had made the earrings she was wearing.  She wrote down the address of her blog on two scraps of paper for them.  At some moment, when the two friends were talking about old and sad topics, he had enough of those old and sad thoughts.  He ordered some shots and decided that they would stop talking about the matter when the drinks arrived.  So they downed the shots -- the bartender poured one for herself, too -- and moved on, and his happiness returned.  A girl behind him was dancing to Lady Gaga, her arms long above her head, her eyes closed, smiling.  "Don't call my name, don't call my name, Alejandro."  He felt such joy and love!  The liquor had served its purpose.  The music, the dancing, himself and his friend at the corner of this bar.  Her earrings. 

Now they were in an empty diner.  He ordered spaghetti to sober up.  He didn't have any cash and the place wouldn't take cards.  He walked carefully to an ATM two blocks away and withdrew some money.  When he returned his friend was low in the booth and it was time to leave.

They were sitting on a bench in a median on Broadway.  Occasional white headlights coming forth, red taillights receding.  He closed his eyes to resolve himself, yet his mind pitched and rolled on its conflicting orbits.  The spaghetti returned, long and shining white on the soil.

He and his friend were walking up the street.  He suddenly realized that the darkness was paling, the sky softening into day.  He was embarrassed to see the morning come.  He wanted to be home.  He told his friend to get up, that now they should say goodbye and find a cab and abandon whatever was left of the night, before the light of a new day shamed him further.

He came home quietly into the gray light of the apartment.  His wife was on the sofa nursing their daughter.  She spoke softly, to avoid startling him, to welcome him back and to say good morning.

1 comment:

Hank Lacy said...

Nicely done, Michael.