When the clouds burst like this at night the city streets get distorted, almost transparent from all the layers of reflected light. That hiss—as sheet after sheet of raindrops roll across the pavement—and the tumbling away of thunder into the distance.
This is the kind of weather that conjures up ghosts, makes them visible—the driver says through the window towards me in the back seat.
Look at ’em, like synchronized dancers — sliding down the windsheild.
The meter was off. I was counting out my cash and trying to see through the blur of running colors.
Poetic way of looking at it—I said.
Through the pounding rain on the roof of the cab I hear the radio playing:
“Salesman talkin’ to me — tryin’ to run me up a creek.
Says you can buy it, go on try it — you can pay me next week,
Too much monkey business. Too much monkey business.
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in.”
Not being mystical, y’now. I think ghosts are just special memories that break loose and decide to run outside, barefoot and shirtless, wanting to play in the deluge. You can catch ’em if you’re paying attention.
Pointing at the radio: This man knows how to reach back, to sing to the ghosts. And old timers like me. He sure could use his duck walk in this weather.
Hands me back change.
Over by my place the cars that throttle by, windows open, always blast that crickety-click syncopation with rhyming dictionary lyrics. And the corner boom boxes grumble, fast mouths doing the double dutch, jumping right over that tasty bawdy of old blues, right into nasty.
I’m looking out the windows, preparing to make a mad dash towards my building.
Relax—you can wait inside the cab here a little while — the driver kindly suggests — it’ll ease up in a minute. You’re my last fare and I live a few blocks from here.
The only other music it seems I hear in the streets all summer is the Mister Softee ice cream truck playing that never-ending jingle that has bounced around the five boroughs from before I was born. That Pavlov must have helped come up with it. And now there’s a competitor playing Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag with that same music-box sound.
I mention the guy who rides around the neigborhood on his bike—a portable speaker always filling the evening air with Édith Piaf‘s voice.
Yeah, that is a lovely one.
And in my building there is someone who plays beautiful Mexican accordion, as well as a woman who practices operatic voice scales.
Hey, I just gave myself an idea. I’ll bring my tunes-box down to the Ellington Monument on 110th this weekend—and blast some “Duke” out to the world.
The rain has ended as dramatically as it started. I extend my sincere thanks and head home. Silent streets—no music, no rain, no ghosts—just a siren off somewhere in the distance.
© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Read RemingtonWrite’s version here:
In August 2020, I set myself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image was that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to my Mom and the concept was Time.
In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.