Dark Night

From the backseat of the car I can see the rain comin’ down making patterns on the windshield as I listen to my friends talk and the radio playing some kinda trite thankfully fades in and out. And I’m sitting here thinkin’ that it’s been a long day and from the looks of my rough red fingertips you’d a thought I’d done a lot, or at least gotten a lot done in a productive proletarian kinda a way. But I haven’t really and it’s probably just that old pesky case of stigmata comin’ round visiting my fingers again.

Meanwhile outside going by in a blur that seems to only come into focus whenever there’s a bright light shining down onto the sidewalk are the shapes of people bundled up against the cold rain; some standing there under awnings along the edges of the buildings and others huddled in doorways. Individual faces in the dark suddenly being illuminated from the quick draw on a cigarette or a crack pipe, that blank expressionless look fading away back into the dark on the exhale or as the lighter gets pulled away. And then the car that I’m ridin’ in makes it through the next intersection and it suddenly dawns on me that for such a stormy night I’m seein’ more and more people out here on the streets standing around doin’ nothing in the freezing rain.

Abruptly over to my right there’s the strobe lights of blue, white and then red comin’ off the cop cars and ambulances that have got the intersection surrounded a half block over along one of the alleyways off a Fifth Street. And even through the condensation on the windows is getting’ kinda murky it still doesn’t stop me from noticing that none a the cops standin’ round seem to be in that much of a hurry as the rain continues to pour and the lifeless body lies prone at their feet

And I don’t know if it’s my imagination, or a trick of the light, but there appears to be all these people moving around gettin’ closer to the body becoming silhouettes in the falling rain. And then slowly, almost as if they’re creeping on all fours, they all seem to be fading away into indistinguishable shapes as they eerily disperse into the shadows from whence they came.

However as jaded as I am and now a tad numb from witnessing all this life, or the lack thereof, it still doesn’t help hold my thoughts together and with a flood of images adhering to my senses I mercifully return to contemplating why I’m feelin’ so off and far away and worse when I feel like this how it tends to make me unsure or at least has me questioning my abilities. Because lately for some unknown reason normal situations that I’m usually accustomed to dealing with have seemed strained and instead of just dealing with them I’ve outright avoided them or worse bumbled my way through only to be left with major regrets afterwards.

Not that any of these encounters have been what you’d call life threatening or seriously detrimental to anyone but myself, it’s just that a few months ago everything was at least going Ok and I think that I could even say that I had a certain amount of confidence in what I was doing. And now? Well, maybe being turned down for the grad school that I really wanted to attend has a lot to do with it, or maybe it doesn’t? After all I usually chalk up such shortcomings on my part to the alignment of the planets or the monthly rotation of the moon not to some other external condition that I have no control over. Yet almost involuntarily as if looking for the answer I find myself straining tryin’ to look up into the night sky though the mist filled windows without even considering the rain clouds that are obscuring any view I might have of the stars.

My phone rings, its a woman that I know, but she’s a long ways away and yeah I wanna tell her about not being accepted into school and how useless and unwanted that makes me feel but I can’t. Maybe because my homeboys are sitting just a few feet away and I haven’t really talked to them about it yet or maybe because I’m really not ready to admit it to someone else? Whatever the reason is I’m not really sure and so after a few minutes of pleasant conversation I hang up and gratefully notice that I’m only a block from home.

Back in the apartment building there’s that familiar mildewed stench like a wet dirty dog and I know that I am truly home. Only as I’m getting off the elevator to begin walking down my hallway a woman that I know from around the way is unsteadily coming towards me and as I say hello I can see that she’s pulling herself together in order to deal with me; like she’s obviously making a real effort to compose herself as she puts on a fake smile and looks in my direction returning my hello with a nod as she continues on her way. So maybe I’m not wrong here, maybe it is the moon?

Yet I’m only a few feet from my apartment when my next door neighbor steps out into the hall with her phone in hand and makes a point of stopping me to ask if I’d been watching the Oscars and if just by chance I knew who’d won. “Nah, I’m sorry” I tell her, “didn’t watch them tonight. I couldn’t tell ya.” And before she starts yammering on her cell phone she gives me a look like I’m from the planet Mars and then stomps off dressed in thigh high platform boots and a lime green full length raincoat and I can’t help but stand there thinking that life is forever infinitely weird as far as the grand scheme of things is concerned and no matter the case, introverted or extroverted, we all gotta live together. But there’s one thing that I’m definitely sure of and that’s that tonight there’ll be no Oscar for that dead guy whose lyin’ over on the pavement off of Fifth Street. And then while contemplating my existence with somewhat of a new prospective I open my apartment door and call it a night!



4 Responses

  1. lab munkay

    Listening to techno will cause ones emotions to run in sporatic spurts. I say, skip school and write your novel.

  2. Adriana Bliss

    Damn them academics. Getting derailed is always tough – I suppose on the Pollyanna side of things, the break forces you to evaluate, reevaluate. Not much consolation, I know.

    Fantastic imagery as always.

  3. Rayna

    So sorry that you didn’t get into the grad school that you were hoping for.

    As unsatisfying as this might sound, you can always apply again. Last May, a guy graduated from my college that had applied three times before he was accepted, but on his third try, he included a letter pleading his case and promising his diligence.

    Some laughed and thought it was a bit pathetic, but really he did what was necessary for him to get what he wanted out of life… he didn’t lose hope in attaining something he cared about.

    Most of the faces that stare blankly as they freeze in the rain belong to people who lost their sense of hope long ago when they quit caring…

  4. Christi Lee

    I think it is just WHERE you live. When I lived in Hollywood, on Franklin Place, it was a lot like that. Before they started cleaning it up, that is. Piss Alleys, hooker boots, and bile (the color of your neighbors’ coat) dripping from windows ten-stories up. Dead bodies soaking up the California sun on bus benches and the stench of crack wafted on the streets like Downey through a dryer vent. I paid $501.00 a month for my shit-hole single back then. I guess my point is where you live and when you live there. Makes sense right?