They were at it again. I think this time she was right. She had a point, at least. If he knew she was waiting on him then he shouldn’t have stopped off at — it sounds like Alex’s. He doesn’t sound drunk, but he does sound mad. They both do.
It’s almost always like this. Especially weekends. Especially weekend nights. I can hear them from my window, where I now sit. I would question why they’re still together if it weren’t for the fact that I can hear them. I can hear everything they do. Passionate folk, my neighbors.
A few of the stars stand out in the sky. At least I think they’re stars. It’s hard to tell anymore. Maybe it’s Venus. Or space trash. I heard on the radio that Bezos thinks we should send all of our garbage to space. Or else we should send factories to space? I can’t remember really.
It’s hard to hear my radio as of late. I still use one of the old ones, a trusty, dusty Studebaker. Though it’s less trusty nowadays. Music, news, advertisements all run together like melting wax.
Oh come on, that’s a little unfair. She brought up his weight. Says he shouldn’t be drinking in the first place. Now he does sound drunk. His S’s are lasting longer than usual.
It makes it harder to tell what is viable, important information and what is an ad. What is being sold to me and what is crucial? I hear some stuff about Afghanistan. Biden removing our forces, the Taliban taking over, something about an Air Force Jet, climbing. It’s all mixed with Coca-Cola and Prevacid. The ailment and the cure. Also, the Cure. In fact it is Friday and I sit in my window. All of it comes to me at once, in a jumbled concoction. My ears drink it in like syrup you forgot you had. It’s sticky, it’s slow, but it sticks.
I heard something, I don’t know what. A pop? Something.
I like the view from my window. I like to watch the people walk around. They listen to music and they carry things. Everyone is almost always carrying something — a bag, groceries, a baby, beer, laundry. There is a man carrying tools. It reminds me of a room I once sat in. I was in a chair and a man with a white beard was standing behind a table, and he had a slew of tools in front of him. A menagerie of wrenches, chisels, screwdrivers, pliers, clamps — he picked up each and every one of them. Every time he did he said the same thing, “This is not a hammer.” I watch the man walking with his tools and wonder if he knows which one isn’t a hammer. Does he sometimes use the wrong tool for the right job?
They’re quiet. Can’t tell if it’s for dramatic effect or if they’re on the part where they make up. Always starts quiet and crescendos then subito piano. Vivid.
I like to watch the cars drive by. The reds and blues, blacks and whites. I’m not a car guy. What does it take to be a car guy? That’s a way of thinking or else a way of being or else a way of living I’m not accustomed to. I’m not interested in what makes them go. But I like to watch them. Mainly because a hidden person is doing it and I like to think about where they came from, where they’re headed, guessing from the color of their vehicle. Soon the cars will drive themselves. Which makes no sense at all, cars have nowhere to go. Moving cars have people in them who almost always have stuff beside them or behind them. Never without stuff, anyone. And they take their stuff to different places. Different tools. Everything is a tool. And most everyone too.
They’re quieter than usual. A little odd. Maybe they left without slamming their door, but that would be new. It’s all new. Nothing has ever happened before. But really all of it has.
A man in dirty clothes sits in a forgotten doorway of an unimportant building. For a moment I think about everything that he has seen before right now. Maybe he knows, can tell, feels that I am thinking about a past I never experienced because he looks up at me. The part of me that knows it’s rude to stare is dormant, passed out. We both look at each other for a brief period. Everything he had seen before, and now it was me. He sees me. I see him. I nod and he returns the favor then resumes scratching.
The blare of a car horn.
It’s then he turns the corner with his dog pulling him along, a small boy. He is much too weak and his dog pulls him along like slaves building pyramids. The dog has white fur and a curious nose that is searching over every inch of the sidewalk. The boy looks tired. His chest moves like an overworked accordion. His lungs on overdrive. His lungs on fire. Everything in his life controlling him, the adventure of youth.
What was that pop? They’re still so quiet.
The dog is an explorer. One day kids will get out of school for a day named after him. Those kids will then grow up to abhor Rufus Day. They will still insist on getting the day off, but will rename the day after the boy he pulled along. The day will celebrate the boy whose lungs burned for the sake of the dog’s curiosity. And really what are explorers? What did they ever discover that was so important? What did they ever discover that was helpful at all? People already lived there. Exploring is noble. But why? Why be noble? Why be anything?
Maybe they are eating. Maybe that is what consumes their time. Never. Never are they this quiet.
The white car turns the corner. I don’t know cars, but this one is going fast. The boy is so tired. His lungs are fighting for air. In one second his small fingers unclench their grasp on the leash that secured the explorer. It only takes one second of freedom. The explorer leaps forward celebrating his newfound abandon.
The car is going so fast it gets a new paint job. The scream of brakes and one final yelp. The white car with the red hood stops. I look down at the man in dirty clothes who looks back up at me.
In times of confusion or terror, this is what people do. They look at the others there, the others who stood close enough to experience. A mix of “what do we do?” and “did that just happen?” I watch him stand up and walk away. Genovese stab your heart out.
The driver of the Pollock car gets out and stands. He is still, but his hands grasp his head trying to reach into his brain and rewind time. Would he drive slower? Would it change anything? He knew there were others here. He knew he had never been alone.
I look over at the boy still panting for air. His face is red, but I can’t tell if it’s because of emotions or fatigue.
I stand up and close the window. After all, it has nothing to do with me.
Still the neighbors are silent as death.