|Facing north, by the viaduct|
“Would you like to leave a message for her on our trunk-line?”
“No, really. But then, Sorry do you mind if I do?”
“Clearly,” setting the handset in front of me.
“Its John. We had a drink in the bar here and I thought I'd catch you. Anyway its late and I'm heading back. Maybe you're there instead.”
I hand Dot Dot Dot the handset leaving him to his Mah-pong. Tonight had given me the same messianic taste for shovels and spoons that poets held for flowers and swoon. I was bewitched, indented, and underscored by some strange green eyes.
The lobby’s stuffed with furniture like a mouth full with aching teeth. It smells sharp and loose in here when the door whistles open. Flattened cans rattle where the door kick plate was. Then the whole mess slaps shut again, then again behind me. Shielding a match with my open hand I light a cigarette. The tar, the acid rich chemicals, I inhale them and they burn just right exactly. I exhale. Outside the wet cast-iron awning overhead is black as pitch, as bold as a pig, and fat as a painting. I flip the match at the gutter and it sputters out.
Above me the buck naked trees lean out over the slow sky skimming it's ample dark for the keenest stars. The small dawn smell is acrobatic, bending over backwards all the way from the tannery. From here the Blvd look's damp and dark like the color of old rain after a strike. Down the street I see that Nik and Nik are out having a laugh at someone's expense. After their goof Nik heads back to the girls while Nik goes up the stairs to his kitchen and his rich sense of entitlement.
East above the treetops a worn out skrim slung over a steel truss looks like a skyline rehearsing the easy bits first. This old town is a cross hatch, it’s streets are wove into the patient pitch and dung of other times. It’s front door is a soup of thin speculation and dreary cholera strung out along a stolen ribbon bent back along the waterfront like a dirty hanger.
At the lakes edge it’s lights flicker like a dim and battered beast dancing on the ropes. Down here the rickshaws are wriggling around barkers and the stand still cabbies. Its a lurid tableau hidden in the bureau behind the good runners. There’s a lame waffle cart idling in the road while it’s owner darts around screaming, horse, horse damn it. Then a man in his whiskey suit throws a brick at him.
To the left there’s music you can dance to and to the right in a nook down by the South Water is a crooked mop left leaning. The UbixTower’s pike-end is circled by punchy starlings and fat crows while it’s rag’s stew in a steaming pile of realism. The tower stands by itself above the Widows, an otherwise simple landscape constructed with shapes mostly associated with, fuck you. It’s where old mothers hang their naked arms out over sills and smoke hot cigarettes in the deep summer funk. It’s where fat men in knee socks grumble about their fruit trees. It's where unremarkable was framed for murder.
Back outside the hotel a milk-sop with his early work passes by me in the street. He smells of axle grease and flowers. His tall hat, his broad belt and earnest boots are as plain as May. Set between his low ears are 2 warm eye's the color of sin. They’ve adopted a flat reliable nose to help keep his glasses out of his bushy beard. He looks at me and smiles, sing, singing.
Oh I've never made my heart as blissfulSomehow the lumbering sop teased three enormous potbellies into a wooden yoke so they'll trot abreast while hauling his cart. He gives the lee soo a quick flick with his yellow switch as they trot by, soosie, soosie, soo...
as this full of water glass you’ll see
she’ll only meet me halfway
she’ll only be my maybe,
can’t you help me, can’t you help me
please, please, please
the pretty lady, in me...
Remember they're adept at all of the games of pretend. They can be loud as a savior or deadly quiet. But most important say's Laslow, predators are patient as plumbers. This is what comes to mind as I walk home from the hotel. Not peaches but plumbers. Not even Pree but Helen... My anxiety swings out into the night like a dented trumpet working revile.
My Dad, Haster was a slow and deeply mistrustful person. After Haster had gone Alister confided to MomJean that working with the man through the years was like barking your shin, skipping breakfast, and then missing the trolley simultaneously. Haster just had a way of coming up roses under foot. Which if you think about it he added, isn't so very good for the rose.
He was singular, MomJean agreed. Then they laughed together.
What do paintings do when you don't ceaselessly watch them?
That depends on where my father is, I answer sullenly.
Let's get bug drunk...
Back then big houses with old brick faces lined both sides of String St. Each one had a high gabled roof and a prancing line of fence in front. The ladies of home hustled their daffodils in cordial lament behind those fences. They kept piles of smelling salts and tabloid sized bottles of bourbon close at hand. MomJean would say she wasn't a proud woman but she could wear her disdain clearly and fluently enough for 2 when she wanted. She’d look down at me and say, Beans and Horses often enough in the company of our neighbors. I knew, oh did I...
I grew up near the end of String St in a carriage house so small that it could nearly hide behind a single box elder. The yard was mostly Lilac bushes but some Hollyhock held fast at the edges. In June the box elder tried to bury us in elf-droppings and then in August the lilac bloomed again. The house was only 16 foot to a side. If you didn’t trip or cough while passing down the street then you’d have seen some crusty white trim around the windows and a little scarred front door. It’s scrawny chimney and broke shutters were all real, real, real. From the first Tuesday they moved in Haster and MomJean lived there like it was their only home.
Dad worked in an office then, on the second floor of a building next to a factory. In the morning he rode the train. Then at night he walked home. Mom tended some monster lady job at the shopping center. It’s all horses and beans dad would say. Then he’d say, horses and beans again for emphasis. Haster thought highly of emphasis. His desk was under a window that was itself underneath a smokestack across from the lye manufactory.
Once when I was in junior high MomJean pulled me aside at some terrible school gathering. Haster was supposed to be there with us. Instead he was running late or just being indifferent. MomJean brushed my shoulders as though my nonexistent epaulets had gotten dusty. She held me at arm’s length then hugged me and whispered in my ear, Your Dad hates windows. I’m not lying… We both laughed until tears streamed down our faces. Mrs. Ipseg, the superintendent disapproved deeply. MomJean looked at her and said, Horses and Beans, it's all horses and beans.