City Story

The lights in the city went red green red in the puddles of oil glistening in the cooling Autumn sun, Los Angeles, walking along the suppertime sidewalk, Hunter prowled head down, needing air, strangers, the ever busy and indifferent outside world, the simple flowing motion forward of stepping after struggling for hours alone on his computer in his clean, organized, solitary apartment. The basic problems of language tonight could not be resolved. There was no expressing what he needed most directly to say. There were side avenues, right angles to that direction, but it was like poking a needle at a vein in the dark. Added to the basic fact that he wasn’t even sure what he wanted to say exactly, just knowing that he needed to. And then the heavy stillness of his loneliness pressing in around every spark, making it difficult to catch even the draft of one opening sentence, nothing insubstantial tindered–all thoughts were vital, boundless, and opaque to immediacy. He stopped and fingered out a Kamel Red Light and lit it and blew out smoke steadily, standing before a pink staccato hanging plant infested apartment complex lined with projecting rectangular balconies from which smells of various take-out and stove-cooked foods emanated. He watched a pretty woman across the street talking on her cellphone and looking up and down the street, waiting to be taken somewhere. He breathed in smoke and held it deep in his lungs and blew it out at the sky. He wasn’t a nicotine addict, but there were times in the streets that he needed the cigarette excuse to stand and meditate in the midst of so much apparent purpose. The many cars sleeping along the curb were glistening with lights in the descending dusk. Smells of foreign worlds, flowers mingling with the dinner street Fall smells.

Hunter continued down the blocks, listening to the fragments of peoples lives spilling into an atonal polyrhythmic flow of city life. Always everywhere something there to let you know that you are a piece of something less and something greater. There is you and there is me and the in-between is but a matter of beginnings and endings which have no distinction. Here is the rich and here is the poor and here is the hunger and here is the denial and here is the ever looming threat of the crowd boxed in, separated and policed mainly by the mind–the danger is felt when the eye is opened and the reality stirred. The blinders of everyday indifference are the city’s lifeblood, it’s basis of existence. Alien human beings are traffic, they are passerbys, they are herds and individuals, they are box office ticket buyers and supermarket cart wheeling hobos, jazz club afficianados Hollywood industry junkies. They are a force contained and exploding in windows all across the night

Well, it made him stronger, Hunter felt. It destroyed him as he loved it. It recontructed him as he hated it. And even when the voice within him couldn’t find its way into this overlying structure, simply walking through the solitary streets and breathing the electric air soothed him to an unrequited silence. Where the inner ground of integrity was known, with no verification, with no credits and no communication.


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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