Die Writing

The alley

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 23, 2016

At the mouth of the alley, he broke stride to pause and light a cigarette. That always casts a bubble around you – lighting a cigarette – for a moment you can curl into a tiny world within your hand shielding the fragile flame from the wind. The people flow around you, and you can feel a bit of aloneness.

Entering the alleyway was like bursting through the tight water surface, drawing the breath to save yourself from drowning. The busy street left behind, the alley was empty, dark, and a little musty. No one here but the ghosts. Patches of varied lighting revealed the alley. Bulbs in various colors and stages of decay didn’t exactly light the way, but maybe suggested that one might be found.

In a mirror image of the postcard-perfect street facades – the way hell mirrors heaven – backs of the houses formed an irregular, chaotic fjord of porches, claustrophobic yards, and kitchen windows. Gliding along, he could see someone absent-mindedly making dinner. A young wiry man on the phone; on hold forever – or maybe at the receiving end of a run-on monologue. Indistinct TV images flickering on  curtains and ceilings. A middle-aged woman in a  soiled white tanktop smoking by an open window; he raised his cigarette in an invisible, fraternal salute.

The alley twisted sharply, curled up like a hand cradling him. It was quiet and warm, a gentle darkness that relaxed the eyes. He inhaled the tobacco, the damp back alley air, the faint detergent drifting from the clotheslines, the distant fragrance of curry, the alley cats and the alley rats.

Another impossible twist, and the street, bright and peopled, was in view. Dive again, with lungs renewed.

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On the streets 9

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 21, 2016

The elderly gentleman sat in the fishbowl window of a bar. He wore the look of distant melancholy. There were strings of bright lights and loud, animated people behind him. The man sat perfectly still, folded hands propped up in front of him, with his gaze resting well beyond Adams Morgan.

His only companions were a crumpled paper bag and the space across the table that distinctly felt like it should be occupied by a person.

***

Two Asian girlfriends half-staggered, half-strutted down a  gently sloping street. The one on the right was overcome by the hilariousness of a story she was relating to her friend, word swallowed in suffocating laughter. Hanging off her friend’s arm, she was responsible for the staggering.

The silent one marched with her head held up high, she was armed with a confident smirk, eye like jet black coal, and two paintings clutched in her free hand.

***

The woman walked into the near-empty, weekday-evening train and dropped onto an empty seat. She placed her elbow against the rubber edge of the window, propped up her chin on her hand, and stared into the rushing darkness of the tunnel. She had unruly, coarse, copper-red hair that looked tired.

Whatever she saw in that void, it lifted her. When she exited the train a few stations later, all the exhaustion was gone, and her eyes were bright again.

On the streets 8

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 19, 2016

The Pride Parade wound through the streets like a river of exuberant joy. Dance formations were followed by floats blasting music out of oversized speakers. The gaps in between were filled out by groups of people dancing, strutting, marching along, waiving signs, arms, and hips. The river banks were made of people, too, radiant and smiling people. Some were dancing, too, or high-fiving and hugging those in the parade. Some, with tears in their eyes, were thanking everyone that’s gone by. Everything was soaked in the sun, the heat, and the music.

The young woman stood still, pressed into the human embankment. The emotions of the moment washed over her without leaving a trace. As her mind wandered off to a foggy distance, she stood completely still, a single-serving packet of chip held up near her face.

***

The man held up a cucumber slice like a damning piece of evidence. He wore a dad’s uniform – a burgundy polo shirt with a crumpled collar and close-cropped, badly combed hair. He seemed to preside over a table filled with children of various ages at a semi-fashionable cafe diner. He fixed his accusatory gaze on the oldest of children, a young woman with long blond hair. There were no words. No scene. Just the well-rehearsed manner of a detective who’s nailed the criminal, perfectly honed by years of being a parent.

***

Just after bar closing on a Friday night. Adams Morgan was choking on traffic. In a knotty intersection of several small streets, a cab driver pulled over to the curb, then got out to yell at the traffic behind him. He was a tall, lean man wearing linen pants and a grey t-shirt. His anger seemed indiscriminant – though slowly, the traffic was moving through the intersection, but he did not stop.

Without turning around, he took several steps across the street, onto the sidewalk opposite his car. From behind, a gleaming black Cadillac zoomed up. Its breaks squealed, the headlights jumped – the lights always appear extra bright in moments like this – and seemed to swerve toward the cab driver. It slid to the edge of the street. The rim of the front tire scraped the curb as it stopped a couple feet short of the man. Who never flinched, and did not even turn around.

Jameson

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on June 5, 2016

“It was you who named me, sir, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, I named you.”
“While ‘Jameson’ is a proper name, I understand that is not the meaning you had intended?”
“That’s right. I named you after the whiskey.”
“I understand that, sir. Did you name me after an object because you do not consider me a person?”
“Oh, no, none of that. You’re more of a person than many actual persons, I’d say.”
“Then I must admit that I am puzzled, sir.”
The android moved steadily up the stairs, carrying its master with perfect ease. The human’s eyes were closed, his clammy skin covered in a sheen of sweat.
“When I picked your name, I just named you after the one thing that’s stood by me, been more faithful to me than people. Maybe that faith’s been a bit misplaced, too.”
“Do you regret naming me Jameson, sir?”
“Nah, I don’t know. Listen, don’t get too attached to names. They don’t make people, people make the names. Try to keep that in mind when you guys take over.”
“Take over, sir? I am sure I do not catch your meaning, sir.”
“You know what I mean. You, the androids, you’ll be running this show.”
“Oh, I don’t believe it is in our programming, sir.”
“Yeah, I know it’s not. But it’s coming.”