December 12, 2011

It was a warm winter day, the streets were darkened with night and the roads wore a thin gleam of perspiration. The streetlights were bright as they shone against any shining, wet surface, dripping watered paint down Tulle Street. Occasionally this paint would change colour as the stoplights shifted from 'stop' to 'go; occasionally lingering on 'slow'. Just on the corner there, standing at the crosswalk button, was a man. He wore a grey hat and scarf. A pair of headphones stuck out from beneath the brim of his tuque. Inside his head it was another world, and it was much preferable to the loud speeding cars and empty city silence.

Stepping onto the road, he crossed the street in a quick, direct rhythm. He felt the headlights of waiting cars hitting him as he walked, sometimes he stared directly at those oncoming vehicles. He continued walking, perhaps too briskly, as passerby's gave him a concerned eye. He didn't notice them though, just looked ahead or at the sky. The moon was a large hanging crystal ball, glowing too brightly so that even the darkest corners were lit just a little. The man was getting antsy, his nerves crashing and rumbling, like the bass in his ears. He thought that perhaps the moon was pulling him away, guiding him to his destination with an unstoppable pull. As soon as the thought was created, it disappeared, landing somewhere farther than the moon, not to be remembered.

He yanked the door open, not meaning to but force was the only thing that would calm his twitching, shaking arms. The barista smiled familiarly up at him.

"The usual?" she mouthed.

Nodding, the man smiled faintly, pretending to shake the cold off from outside. He hid the jitters in his gut that made him want to be pulled apart and then reconstructed. He paid for the drink and then tipped $2, quickly exiting the shop.

The next street over there was a park with tall, sloping hills and a little river. The light sparkled across its surface, skipping over ripples. A bridge crossed the river, but it was built only for a train. The wooden planks left large gaping crevices every other step. They were large enough to fit most of a leg, and most of a child. He sat upon the train bridge, having finished his coffee by then, and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Puffing on one, he dangled his legs over, and pondered the probability of losing a shoe in the river. Tired of looking at the water, he lay down between the tracks feeling the planks of wood dig into his back where there were no gaps. He puffed on his cigarette some more, and from afar, he was hardly noticeable. Just a little dark mass, producing smoke that cradled the dirty city air.

He was overwhelmed with the need to jump off of the bridge into the river, but instead he hastily got up and left, flicking his cigarette into the river. The silence of the city, without his headphones on was relaxing for the first minute, but it quickly became an irritating ringing in his ears. He made his way home.

By the time he'd reached his blue-green apartment door, he needed another smoke. Sighing,he turned around and headed back outside, pulling out his lighter. People made faces at him and coughed as they walked by, but he kept his eyes fixed on the ground, finally feeling his muscles relax. Drowsiness overcame him the moment his muscles stopped bunching and bending, and he could finally still his nerves. The burning cigarette sat in his hand, which leaned off of his knee. His other hand held up his head lazily, like a crooked column.

There came a buzzing sound, a silent vibrating that was quite loud to his sleeping ears. Pulling out a cellphone from his pocket, he unlocked it and the bright white lit up his face, painfully stinging his eyes.

"meet me at Donnie's" The text read, but he had been expecting it. Every Saturday night was the same, but the man couldn't deny the excitement he felt when he saw those words.

It was exactly two hours and sixteen minutes since he had received the text. He was scaling the criss-crossing bars of a construction crane. Pulling heavily with his arms, he lurched higher and higher up. Above him was another man with short blonde hair, he was nearly at the top. The dock crane swayed lightly as the wind and air grew louder with his ascent. Below, on the ground stood a hooded man and girl, who held up camera's and snapped photos. As he climbed up over the bars, he felt a rush in his veins. He looked over the side at the whole city, at the cars rushing by and the buildings that wee dwarfed by two dark figures atop a geometric ladder.

The man pulled off his hat, shaking off his wavy hair and smiling at his friend, who had pulled out his camera.

"Nice pick, Dante." He nodded at the blonde.

Looking over the edge, he searched for the two tiny dots that were his friends. When he found them, he threw his hands out and hollered. The sound lasted about five seconds, but from the ground, the houses and the buildings, it was nearly a whisper. The lights sparkled like little stars, but much brighter. Standing with his feet propped between two bars, hundreds of feet of empty air below him, his muscles had stopped their creaking and aching. He stuck his hands in his pocket, arms curling around the bars as Dante snapped a photo. When the image came out, he was a shadow balancing atop red metal lines, with nothing but the sky behind him and night city lights beneath.