Adrian walked back in the start of a spring rain like she’d set fires in Chicago and knew she was getting away with it – chin bent slightly toward the pendant that dangled from her neck, hands stiff at her side and leaving footprints on the wet concrete. I saw her sole marks stick and expand, falling victim to the steady way water finds gravity. I stayed under the lamplight at the far end of the block, smoking a cigarette. Legs crossed at the ankles, I’m up against a soggy building that sells deli sandwhiches during the day. I lean back and sneak a peak inside- empty chairs along a red painted wall with wooden trim splitting the distance between floor and ceiling. Just high enough to leave your gum on if you’re standing. I decide that it must of been a design flaw or general oversight, so I straightened my pose.
Or nobody ever thought of putting gum there, so it really isn’t a problem.
It was a sad avenue lit only by uneven flicks of neon that made the smoke coming out of man holes look frightened and rusty. Her black boots appeared plastic. Her jacket showed water lines and hung to her slim body with a tired generosity. At the door, she fished for keys in a purse that made her look less important. I felt the sigh of heavy breath and gaze of dull eyes when she unlocked the door. She never seemed to approach her own place with a graditude that she lived there. Adrian wasn’t fond of her neighbors, but it’s more than that. I was more tired than sad.
She stepped in and was gone. I needed a cup of coffee.
Steam rolled off the edge of the coffee cup, taking little time to wander in the still night, rain dropping in plops, dripping from the awning of a harbor shelter. The fog was building up on the water, looking for a place to creep into. I turned back and faced the city, a mass of concrete and broken brickwork trying to decide how to make steps in those streets. It should make sense to late night crawlers, listening to jazz and not hearing a single voice, but the rain cuts all that, keeps it all even so you can’t get a sense of direction or how the night is panned out in front of you.
Like thick blankets, I thought how many dreams Adrian would remember in the morning.
I turned back to the harbor and watched bouy light blink in constant time, an ocean filled with endless ways to find land, keep notes of stars and maybe start to count your favorite ones. Now that’s dreamwork, even if it’s unstable at best. I pulled out some cigarettes and wished I would’ve gotten some hot tea. The collar of my jacket catching drips off the tip of awning and it’s a cold line of rain down my back but that’s fine with me. The fog is getting closer and soon this spector will be swept into a smooth background of hushed meandering, blended with steam from this coffee, from those man holes, taxi cab exhaust, a rush of warmth from open doors.
Fog so close, I’m nervous.
There is a late night diner with a long counter to manage time at, so I go, listening to the click of shoes, the rustle of jacket, a hiss of blink that has been so long in coming it’s more of a hydraulic pulse then an involuntary action. A car swings by on the overpass and it doesn’t matter.
Adrian says she hates the bus; the circular patterns drive her crazy. Tonight I know exactly how she feels.