Straight up, now tell me

Four A.M.

A fine time to be alive.

Our fair city is a beautiful place at this hour, though few are those who know it. How do I know, you ask, when intimacy with its quiet glory before sunrise is such a rare thing? Because I just walked across the fucker, Madonna to Grand in one glorious, marching swatch.

The world is different, when the sky is so black it starts to get bright. No one’s around, and I mean no one. Just me, the streetlights flashing for non-existent cars, and the night. It’s been a long while since I’ve witnessed it; I remember darker times, when twisting and cracking under the torture of various events I wandered the streets at this hour almost every night. Those were different times, I suppose… wandering stealthily with a girl on my mind and a sag in my shoulders through the silent hours. Now, now I almost revel in it. To walk from one end of the city to the other, without sighting another person, is a strange and foreign happiness. I don’t know if it’s the isolation that does it, though it certainly helps. The details all seem to rise to the surface, when you can walk down the center of a three lane street with your arms in the air. Shopping carts and junipers, porch lights and iron gates… What better company for a night like this.

101 hums in the distance; strange to think of people leading very different lives than my own. That’s the danger of a college town, when all other life becomes fictitious or outdated. That truck speeding by beneath the overpass, I wonder where he’s going. A high speed burn from SF to LA at this hour, who knows. I wonder if he thinks the same thing, pondering the erratic, inebriated steps of the man up there leaning on the guard rail. I wish I could slow things down, ask him to stop, listen to his story. He’d tell me what he had to say, before the sun came up, and I’d explain “Hey, I’m just a drunk collegiate walking home from an 80’s party. Good luck to you and yours.” That’s the kind of shit that makes sense at this hour… but he burns by off into the dark, towards Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and parts unknown.

Looking in the lit windows (and you’d be suprised how many leave their living room lights on at night), you see flickerings of daylight life. Soccer pictures on the mantlepiece, a suit jacket hung over a dinner table chair, a blinking red alarm light on a car…

I don’t know.

Hard to say why I like shit like this. Maybe, in this gap between the last drunkards stumbling home (myself not included; I stumble home at ungodly times) and those first hateful splinters of sunlight sneaking over the hills is just the time I was designed for. Now, right now, now is when my voodoo is strongest.

The rest of the night is a blur, like too many Saturdays. Dancing to Smooth Criminal, dodging stray Beirut pingpong balls and seriously aggravating some greek girl who can never remember my name. There were others, friends, who made the night infinitely better. Phone calls, dirty jokes, Henry’s ruthless red juice drink shit, a concoction which got ahold of me like a priest on a second grader…Oh, and a tall girl, blonde with her hair dyed brown. Katie maybe? Cathy? Anne? Tall and pretty. Said she was from down south, Laguna. Smiled at my jokes, smiled wider at my dance moves… Who knows who she left with. Not me, obviously. Some grinning fuck with arrogant posture and a liar’s tongue, no doubt. No, it’s just me and the endless driveways, the oak trees and the malibu lights. I walk home with those first impetuous birds chirping away, running my hand along the picket fences and marching diligently along the railroad tracks.

Thank the gods for warm nights in the winter, for poor fucks like me. A windless quiet and complete complete solitude, there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half.

Christ, now it’s five fifteen. The rest of the bullshit will be awake real soon. I can hear the hounds baying in the distance, and soon I’ll have to be conscious and running. I’d better sleep while I can.

Yours, in the world of lamp posts and bud light,


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