Member Rara Avis
The man sat, heavy and hunched, on a bench.
Rain ticked off the overhang and splashed puddles at his feet. His shoes, dirty white canvas sneaks, shone brightly under the night's wet light.
His skin looked like pressed paper. The smooth downward hook of a cane floated against his hands.
Bored and young, I sat next to him. Mostly to hear his voice. Unlike many, I had no fear of the old. Unlike most, I had no fascination, either.
He closed his eyes, brought his cane to his chest, lay his chin against his knuckles.
I looked away, out at the rainwater and -shadows: quicksilver sparks nearest the light; further away a hazing of the everyday.
I tried to read a sign across the tracks, against the hill, but fell asleep. What you never say pokes you with urgency: symbols that visit and never find answer or resolve.
I jolted from my slouch, knowing the man was staring.
But he was gone, as the rain.
"There is more than pleasure and pain," I said, reading the sign across the tracks. I kept expecting him to appear, lean close and speak in the dry husk of a man who knew the song so well he had written it himself; the words no longer meaning; just flavors on the tongue, sounds against lonesome echo.
After a moment, I stood, looked at my watch and walked into the night. It seems the train would not be coming tonight.
(c) 2000 Mike Chmielecki