Tuesday, June 29, 2010


A man stands alone on a street corner — but to say he's alone isn't true, in fact he's surrounded by a swirl of pedestrians and onlookers, some of whom are also standing motionless at the moment, it's just that he happens to be on the corner for reasons of his own, which he shares with nobody else in the crowd, reasons which we, the witnesses of the scene in which he is the principal and in fact sole protagonist, are also not privy to — and it's not quite true to say that he stands either, he's actually half-standing, half-leaning, supporting himself against an ornate cast-iron lamppost that rises from the sidewalk, ascends over the man's head, and then curves down gracefully to grasp in one solitary iron-vegetable claw an opaque white globe, which is not illuminated at the moment because it is afternoon, and in fact the sun is steadily burning through the stagnant haze of dust and exhaust fumes that hangs over the city, and the office workers on their lunch hours have loosened their ties and opened their shirt collars to give them some small respite from the stifling heat — but the man isn't wearing a tie at all, just a beige short-sleeved cotton shirt buttoned all the way to the neck, with a single breast pocket which, however, is empty — and on the streetcar that is rattling past, tethered to overhead wires, the passengers are leaning out of the windows and exits trying to get a little air, fanning themselves with newspapers, and the men have removed their jackets and you can see that their shirts are soaked with sweat, but the man on the corner shows no sign of discomfort, in fact he's so at peace that he may have closed his eyes behind his dark glasses, not that he's sleeping mind you let alone passed out drunk, but clearly he hasn't been exerting himself or been shut up all day in some airless bureau where the spinning metal fans that are whirring on every desk, creating a drone like a hive of bees, do little to relieve the suffocating atmosphere, more likely he's been sitting by himself at a table in the corner of some dark air-conditioned bar a few blocks away, and the taste of the cool, sweet concoction he had been drinking — possibly having more than one — is still lingering deliciously on his palate along with the traces of cigarette smoke from the interior of the bar, though he, himself, doesn't smoke, and it may well be that he has closed his eyes the better to picture in his mind the woman he had been dancing with the night before, a woman of his acquaintance and possibly his lover but certainly not his wife because he isn't married, it's quite certain, he has the look of someone who isn't married, who will never be married, who perhaps one day when he is old and ill and childless will feel a brief pang of regret at his state but who will shake it off, because when all is said and done the memory of the taste of rum in your mouth on a hot afternoon leaves precious little room for regrets.

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