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 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.

On the streets 7

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on December 2, 2015

Aside

Autumn has been quite beautiful in DC, as it has been, unfailingly, every year.

Mist

In the late evening of a gray and rainy day, a luxurious emerald green convertible is pulled up at the light. It’s slick, its chrome is spotless, and its leather interior a privileged tan. The driver – a woman in her fifties, with a powerful bearing, with a royal mane of voluminous blond hair, and clad in a leopard-print fur coat – is standing next to the car, with the door ajar.

From the car, growling, unrepentant horns are blaring.

And they say that jazz is dead.

***

It’s late, the people on the metro are sparse, but she chooses to stand by the door. She stands with the perfect casual ease of a ballet dancer or an English dressage rider. Her back is straight, shoulders square, chin up – yet there appears absolutely no strain in her figure. Her appearance is so effortless in its formality, it makes the observer feel like a wicked slouch.

Short, copper-red hair is sculpted and precise, framing a pale and determined face.

Nothing less than a time-traveling Wildesian dandy.

***

The older gentleman rushed through the morning foot traffic. He was dressed in a tweed three-piece suit, complete with an impeccable matching bow-tie. A bowler topped his head. His age appeared no impediment, neither to his brisk, nor smart focus of his eyes, nor impish smile.

A pair of white headphones snaked up from inside his jacket.

Perhaps this dandy time-traveled the usual way.

On the streets 3

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 15, 2014

She climbed the bar, stood on all fours, and whipped her hair. A petite woman in worn jeans and with faded eyes. The bartender, a giant, muscular man, carefully poured some water over her long, jet-black locks. Her friend pulled out a small camera and started taking pictures while she blew kisses and arched her back. The bartender leaned back and laughed gently to himself. Through the whole proceeding, she was quite reserved and polite. There was no hooting and no hollering. The woman was relaxed, languid even, as if well accustomed to this act. She climbed down cautiously.

The bar half-empty, with just a few older regulars nursing their drinks at the end of a workday.

***

DC transforms when the sun sets. It is as if one city is yanked away, and another materialized in its place. The streets and the buildings appear the same, but their essence changes dramatically. The shaded alleys pulse indiscernibly, as if a heart was beating beneath the skin of the old rowhouses. This city’s breath is both sinister and intriguing. Spirits and demons, unseen, hop along the broken rooflines. Stray lines of poetry slink along the warped sidewalks. Tragic characters live out the conflagrations of their lives behind the glowing, shaded windows. Legion romantics fill the darkness with their dreams.

The night is brief, always too brief. Soon, the sun returns, and dreams and demons evaporate.