Palms, California

Night. A holy time. When red meets blue meets black and light. When anything made of light stands out. The moon and stars are still there during the day. We just don’t see them. Night. A time of revelations. A young man’s supper. An old man’s dessert. I step outside onto the street with nothing but a yearning. For what I don’t know. But its excitement. Its expectation. Neither good nor bad. Just another story. All at once or none at all. My throat is sore. From screaming lyrics of junkie poets on the drive home from work. The palm trees are never stagnant. A breeze blows hints of scents in my direction faster than I can recollect the memories. A shipyard seagull, a burned out blender, playing baseball on that field by my house that one day, Mr. Mabrey’s cologne in 5th grade science class, a sheet of Bounce, some fresh lit weed. I never did find out the name of that cologne. Right or left. Right or left… Left. I make my way down towards Venice again. A young black woman passes me and smiles. She has big teeth but they’re not funny looking. Dark now. At the light now. A bald man in his 50s smiles as he passes. “Hello” “Hi.” I smile back to prove I’m not crazy. Everyone’s kinder at night. More relaxed. Their pace slower. They take their time and spend it on their thoughts. I walk by apartment building after building the way I have so many times and imagine the life inside. What my life would be like if I lived there. So close to where I actually live. But a totally different life. Probably cooking soup. Watching TBS. Dinner and a movie with some wine and a woman I didn’t find attractive at first but would grow to love out of loneliness. Building memories that we’ll forget to remember but will still somehow be stuck in our minds and tied to smells. Like that split pea soup. Content soup. The breeze blows again and reminds me of driving in Miami with the windows down visiting grandma. “Put the windows up! It’s drafty! You’ll catch your death of cold!” Everything naughty feels so nice. We do what’s right reluctantly. Like going to work every morning. Being an upstanding middle class citizen with a job and a savings account. I pass a bum on the bench who smokes his cigarette like it’s his first and his last. He measures time with smoke. Whichever kills you first. I breathe in his exhaled poisons as I pass. I understand him. I really do. I could live a lifetime like him. But I have to be a good boy. I’ll always love the smell of smoke. Ever since I was a kid and dad smelled so good when I hugged his neck with little arms as he carried me here and there. I told him I hated the smoke and wanted him to stop but secretly I didn’t. I just didn’t want him to ever die. I take a pull and relish the secondhand smoke again. Even taste the smell on my tongue as I touch it to the roof of my mouth and spread it around inside. Better than soup. I reach the main street now. This is it. It feels like something great should happen here. Now. I start to cross. Venice is wide. A giant of a street. You should come see it sometime. Maybe it’s not much but sit on the bench for a little while and really watch and you’ll see. It really is something. A man crosses with his dogs. They look vicious. Security guards with neckrolls. He stares at me as I cross. I smile and nod. He didn’t expect that. Just keeps staring as I finish crossing. I breathe in the night again. Left or right. Right or left… Left. Yup. Definitely a bar night tonight.

Leave a Reply