would you like a romance?



a late afternoon in the city and i am walking along, gradually
uphill
towards the hights. a car comes along zipping past me. beeping
it's
minor insecurity in the high pitched horn. the girl inside
oblivious to
the construction zone ahead. she makes it through without much
trouble, but i am stuck on the sidewalk, there is no way through
and
so i decide to sit back and wait.

i find a place on a rail ledge for a brick building, long
abandoned
and crumbling. sitting still for a while and watching the
traffic and
construction workers as they build new roadways with their
overhead
bridges and ramps. it is like another concrete blanket covering
over
the faded industrial zone below. giving it a place to hide
further to
disguise the last stages of decay before it is finally razed and
remade into whatever will come next.

two people pass me by on the way into the building, one a woman
more my age and dark in her parka jacket and knitted hat. she
asks me if i am wanted, certain in her statement that i am. i
assure
her that no i am not wanted. quite the opposite. she shrugs and
goes inwards into the darkness and then her footsteps fade up the
stairs. the other person, sits for a moment, again dark in her
coat against the cold. the light has almost gone completely now.
she is darker skinned, and her voice is Hungarian or Romanian
as she asks me "would you like a romance?" rolling the r and
dragging the whole sentence out with vague promises of future
delights. she is not ugly, but i am also not wanted here either.
it is a financial thing with her. so i say "No, thank you." and
she
shrugs and after a few moments of companionable silence she
too goes inwards and upwards her footsteps fading.

the traffic has faded enough now that i could walk along and
go to the hights. but i've sat comfortably here and have no
immediate reason to go further. a cat has wandered up and
started crawling into my lap. i scritch it and hear the motor in
its chest kick in. after a bit it climbs up my chest and arm,
using claws in my heavy but loosely knit sweater. then it
withdraws and leaves behind the claws it has used. they are
large and hollow and each is full of fluid. they are also
transparent enough that i can see that some fluids are
different colored and i really have no idea what to make of it.
i have a dozen or more claws stuck in my sweater and
full of who knows what.

somehow a chemist happens upon the scene and he starts
getting out a test kit and some vials. the tips of the claws
break open and he pipes the fluids into various vials and
caps them. however in one case the fluid is so corrosive
the cap dissolves and the vial starts leaking before he
has a chance to test it. i can smell the fumes. i have no idea
what any of it is. he really doesn't either. there will be much
lab work to figure it all out. you can tell he is quite happy by
this. after a while he takes his samples, vials, test kits and
muttering mannerisms and heads back the way he came.

down the road a dozen yards is a group of people standing
and talking as the night goes on. a small fire burns and a
few different cats are wandering among the people. i finally
move from my ledge and talk to some of them asking if
they knew who's cat it was and all of them say no, it's a
stray they've seen about. aparently it adopted me. and i know
why because i was sitting still for a long time and observing.

after a few hours of amiable conversation i return to my ledge
and a few minutes later the cat has returned and curled up on
my shoulder. then i walk on towards the hights, dodging sideways
in the road as the rare car hurries past.


songbird

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