I’m waiting for the street light to turn on. The sun is starting to go down and the sky has turned a dull milky grey. The trees opposite are waving to the wind. One of them is leaning at an alarming angle towards the road, it’s huge root stump looks like it will be enough to anchor it and it appears green and healthy, but still it is leaning across a major road, just another San Franciscan casualty. Immediately next to it is the sawn off remains of it’s brother who must have gone too far.
This street is a major artery for traffic through the city, and whilst it is not a brutal San Franciscan hill, it is more than a gentle upwards slope, or downwards I suppose based on your mindset. My hills slope up and my glass is half empty: I swim against the tide.
The light still isn’t on. This is the time of night where if you are out you should be aware that the street does not belong to you. It belongs to Them, the great Othered. This is their time. This is the start of the hours leading up the 9pm big shot apex, when having been fed and watered, sedated or stimulated, pacified or enboldened, the monsters start to crawl out of the cracks in the sidewalk and the broken windows of the slums and trap houses and shooting galleries, and long limbed and cracked minded crab crawl backwards into the freedom of the night and the shadows which are painted just for them to skulk in.
They have started to claim the day time too. You cannot feel safe on the street at midday. It is High Noon in the wild wild west. Might as well be the OK Corral. Up to Boot Hill with you if you get unlucky, pulled along in the back of the coroners truck that loads. It is not quite as romantic as a Tombstone carriage drawn by two black horses who have ceased to be afraid of gunfire.
I have formed a relationship with the faceless person in the apartment opposite. I turn on my light and go to the window. They turn on theirs. They stand a second peering out at me, the memory of a smile before they draw the curtains closed. I write a sign saying goodnight, then think better of it. Zodiac Killer. Nightstalker. The Doodler. The Doodler drew the short straw with serial killer names, the prick hunted gay guys in the city in the ’70s, striking conversations up by offering to sketch them. I don’t want to be hung or drawn waving from my metropolitan quarters. The monsters make life so much colder than it has to be.
The sky is now a solid light grey, but the street lamp still is not on. The traffic has slowed to a trickle. A man walks halfway across the road, looks up the street, then turns around and runs back the other way. I wonder what he saw, then turn away a moment. I don’t think I want to know.
The thick vibrato twang of slide guitar slams out of the stereo and into my ears. It sounds like the country. It sounds like the past. It sound like freedom. It is strange how a sound can be so completely masculine, but there it is soaked in testosterone and sweat in the heat of some distant place that is not here.
A man walks a chihuahua, I am alarmed at the unwiseness of this situation. That is a 1pm dog on a 9pm street. They tiptoe past a stopped car that has it’s emergency lights on. No one wants to be involved in this emergency. There is a gas station just down the road, the driver hops out and heads that direction. Silence and stillness waft up to my window, smothering the breeze. Anyone who should be in, is inside their houses, and the unlucky few are hurrying now. The man and chihuahua head the other way up the road. Both look relieved. I think I would rather the dog pissed on the floor. They both head into a steel gate that blocks the apartment complex off from the street, back inside to stare out of their own window at the street below. I make a note to never rent an apartment that is anything lower than the third floor.
The bow of a roof. The plethora of satellites and antennae, Bear flags and Old Glory. Rainbows and Fists. Someone had better push that red car out of the road, it is gonna get hit.
A red hand. A green walk sign. Four lanes of traffic. Black iron gates. White stripes and yellow lamp light flickers finally on.
A bag gets tossed around in the traffic from wheel to wheel.
A woman walks the street looking for business. It is fatal for a femme out there. I say a prayer though I don’t believe it will help her. She looks like she needs food, but men gotta fuck, they gotta buy their way into bodies that they don’t value, then wonder why we hate them.
Goodnight sweet ladies….goo’ night….ladies….ladies…goodnight.