urban stories

Act I

i begin my day with a banana and chai, trying to remember my dream of the night before. it had something to do with walking in puddles of beer. i try to understand the greater significance of this. i take a shit, shave, do all the things you do in the morning, trim my nose hairs, clean out my ears with q-tips. i get in my jeep and get in line on the boulevard. there is this girl in a honda next to me, hoops in her ears, shorts on that are pulling up around her tanned slender legs, sunglasses on. we are inching back and forth next to each other for a good three miles. oh man. look at those lips. she knows i’m looking at her. she keeps pulling on her cigarette. goddamn. kind of wavy brown hair, with a bandanna on. got that kind of bad girl look, like she could care less that i’m having adolescent fantasies looking at her slim right arm extended trimly onto the steering wheel. i tap into the back of the lexus in front of me. this fucking squirt of a kid comes popping out of the car, looking around the back, running his hand over it and examining it as if it were a fucking bank statement. he comes up to my door; he’s noticed the honey, too, i can tell by the way he seems to be imitating himself, the way chumps act when they know a hot girl could be watching.
“there’s a scratch on my car,” he tells me.
“get back in your car,” i tell him, looking straight ahead.
“could you please give me your information?”
i look at him. cars are starting to honk. the chick has moved forward a couple of cars. goddammit. he has spiky gelled up hair, one of those young shits who think they’re hot stuff because they work in some office in the film industry and eat hors’ d’oeuvres at parties where sometimes movie stars are seen. i briefly contemplate ramming into his car and driving away.
“get back in your car. this is what bumpers are for. get mommy to buy you a new one.”
“i’m going to take down your license number.”
i suddenly kick open my door, slamming him to the ground. i close the door and start to pull over to the left lane. he has the presence of mind to stumble out of the way.

Act II

i consider myself an artist on the scale of the domestic. i take pictures, family portraits, babies at the moment when they forget to cry, kids brimming with awkward sexual fervor and one of those ridiculous caps they make them wear for graduation, girlfriend and boyfriend, a boy and his dog, a girl and her baton. i’ve learned that even these posed pictures, prepared teeth baring for the future, can contain an element of transcendence.
it’s all about the right setting for a person, the balanced lighting, the immaculate sense of timing for pressing the button, a certain amount of coaching, luring, baiting.
when someone comes into my studio to be photographed, i make sure that they know that it is i, sarad gordon, who am taking their picture. i am not a watchman, capturing them on security camera. i am master of the ceremonies. i lead them to the altar.
there is nothing certain about what i will see in a person. i have an idea, to be sure: as soon as they walk in the room, i get a feeling. i understand instinctively where to position the light source, at what angle they should be facing, how much needs to be revealed. but as to what will come out in the photo, i do not know. i have an inkling, yes, i have a feeling. this is where the art comes in. i set them up and then they come out on the other side and it always surprises me.
sure. it’s an unrecognized art. other people look at these things i’ve made and when they say “that’s a good picture,” they mean that the person looks good, not that the picture is good. there’s a difference. but i take pride from that anyway, pride in my craft, so subtle that you don’t even know i’m there, even when it’s looking you right in the face. but i gotta say, i’m not out here just to make people who come to my studio look good. i make them look good enough, good enough so that they pay me money and i stay in business, hey, there’s no denying i’ve got my share of bills to pay. but i’m not trying to bring something out of someone that isn’t already there, you know what i mean? i come away from a good day’s work feeling like i’ve seen something into the nature of god. yeah, i know how it sounds. but growing up, i went to church, i had real religious parents,
you know, hard-asses, and i’d watch them get all crazy in service, holding up their hands and crying, the whole works. and now that i’m at that age, that age where you start holding onto whatever piece of beauty you can find, i find that i get those feelings when i’ve caught a vision of a face that i wouldn’t have normally seen, when it looks like someone’s soul is peering out of the cage of a silent photo, seemingly aware, eternal, selfless.


a scent spoken wheeling past to future, your radiant warmth swarms my senses. i take a step back to get a good picture and capture your readiness for me. you are there everywhere i can dare, eyes flaring in confrontation, dervish focus projecting my dreams into )ssssshhhh) nothing

unless i act,
fast breaking forward to beat you to yourself, running to the rhythm of my hunger til the dragon scales fall like rose petals upon the sky reflection of a lonely lake.

waves crest off the make of us, veins rushing with rising river of blood, the sound of my vision flooding your lungs, you speak my name, but you are already shuddering, distant, with the light. what do all these words mean, falling into succession as if they might lead us somewhere?

look around us, the grass pungent and grasping, a tree curling into lush shadow, a background exploding into particularity. the smell of fresh cut things. the inevitable concrete enclosure, squared existence, extending out into infinity, a veritable ocean of building movement. i am showing you something. i like it when you smile.

this entrance into the belly of a mechanical fish is not pain–it is an awakening, a transformation, a meditation. the net of a stocking will pull me back out of the bottled water of my silence. life is not meant to be hidden. i will make my mark upon you

Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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