HE HAD NO IDEA WHERE HE WAS. He had no idea where he was going. He just walked.
After a few minutes the buzz in his ears had subsided and he began to hear the sounds of the city, the noise of the streets. The taxis revving, the heavy groan of diesel engines moving trucks and buses. From a distance, a siren sang into the night. A horn blared next to him. He turned to look and a cab driver shook his fist and yelled something in an unknown tongue to another cabbie.
He walked on. The rubber soles of his hiking boots made no sound on the concrete. There were other people, but the sidewalk was far from crowded. He walked straightway but there was never a moment when he had to sidestep to avoid an encounter with someone else. They seemed to employ a kind of urban sonar that initiated almost imperceptible course adjustments as they moved toward their destination. No one spoke as they passed. No smiles. No eye contact. It was as if the city, for all its celebration of life and culture, shunned the random discovery of another individual.
Though the stores were closed, restaurants and watering holes teased with a hint of celebration and inclusiveness. But he knew that people like him, those who by either natural tendencies or situations that had been forced upon them, were more comfortable sitting to the side and observing. People like him, were they to expose themselves to the illusion of grand party, would again learn the hurtful truth that no one really cared.
No one really cared.
The night was cooling. He zipped up his jacket.
He had been walking for more than an hour but it wasn’t the time that he noticed. It was the quiet. If the street was the river of life in the city, he had hiked to its headwater. Or maybe a tributary. A slower body of water, more peaceful. When hiking in the forest, he would often find a rock beside the river and let his mind drift with the placid current.
He stopped. Ahead, a small group, men and women, loitered on the stoop of a walk-up. He looked behind. A couple of people walked in the opposite direction. He must have passed them but he couldn’t remember. Across the street, a warm yellow light flooded onto the sidewalk from the neon sign of a pub. Edie’s. No. Eddie’s. One of the ds had lost its glow. Either way.
He was tired. He needed to rest.
copyright: joseph e bird, 2016
photo copyright: joseph e bird, 2014