Color of night

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City soundscape, don’t pressure me into anything. I came here for peace and noise and that’s all I want. Relieve me of the silence. Cold wind burns through me. Lights on the fortieth floor and those at ground level coursing the city’s veins. What exactly is the color of night? People in coats walk swiftly, a man runs. Caterwaul of the light-rail train, chatter and laughter, tinned music. Wussup, my brother, my brother, can you spare some change, god bless. Idiopathic. A seam of brake lights weave about the steam and fog. Bass rhythms thunder from select establishments and beckon me inside, my hand at my wallet. Not now, not yet, there’s plenty of time. I was so wasted, a voice says, and I nod, a bus roars past. Men and women hold phones at their ears, more attentive to the sound on the wire than the world in front of them. Marijuana on the air, vehicle exhaust, perfume, spice, fragrant meats. The homeless bundled in the shadows, discarded. I hear the word church and I agree, this is it. Truck brakes screech and whine, a shout, bells. Are there no children in the city? Steam from the sewer grates, all that cliché shit. Jazz, but not enough of it, Pardon me, sir, pardon me, sir. Restaurants with candles lit on tables. A female cop on horseback, her radio hissing. People walking dogs, I never realized how many dogs. Lobby doors open and tenants emerge and I look up wondering what floor they live on. Desmond Paul, Desmond Paul, the name rings a bell, he said something once about cities but I forget. I smell shit somewhere nearby. A taxi van stops next to me, two pairs of shiny legs emerge then the women attached to them and everyone watches. People up ahead hold signs and instead of avoiding them I approach, THREE EVILS, one signs reads. GOVERNMENT BIGOTRY LaSALLE. Another sign: LaSALLE RUINED ME. The intersection holds me snug in a blanket of fumes. Flashing orange light shaped as a human hand, telling me not to stop yet but to prepare to stop. I count each flashing hand and imagine the centuries of dead buried beneath me, five, or perhaps who lives below, in the sewers, as old as the city itself, and the urge to smoke a cigarette overtakes me, a dog sniffs my pant cuff, four, what exactly is the color of night, cyclists charge past, breathing heavily, laughter, bad rap music from a parked car, three, teens across the way, shouting, always shouting, a bus downshifts, attenuates, turns right, two, dual sedans dash madly across, as if made of air, as if compelled by the city light and shadow, one, angles of action and repose, angles upon angles as if on a draftsman’s table somewhere, perhaps a suite high above, a hundred floors up, zero, green to yellow to red and brief quiescence endures just enough to push me onward with the flow of human heat and purpose, seeking howls and clamor and my own footfalls and the mystery of night.

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