Downtown

(something I wrote back in 2015 and which has been posted on one of my earlier blogs)

Downtown

Deepest dark downtown, alive when the sun dies. My home, my hunting ground, populated by myriads of unchosen people. Shops, like whores, offering their weary wares, backlit and foreshadowed, cheap, and dead smiling to fake out your cash. Towers, Morse-coding with lights, messages of profit and greed, solitary security circumambulate corridors like the down-and-outs down here. The sky, starless and black-fogged, trapping the hot air of a thousand expelled exasperated sighs.

Here the homeless, bootlaces scraping grimed sidewalks, bags dangling, heads nodding with unsleep, circle the streets like vengeful vultures, seeking out weaknesses in doorways, alleyways and arches. Balaclava-hatted, with lip protruding tobacco stubs, green-eyed eyes greeting co-habitants, they judge rivalry and comradeship. Lines line from charity vans, scolding soup sipped by burnt numbed lips, shuffling dancers vigilant not to spill their guilt-laden manna. Groups congregate, unholy but brotherly blessed, out of wind and rain, comparing cardboard, exchanging newspaper, swapping mythical histories.

Walking the erotic walk, girls balance heels and lives, both precarious, long cigarettes pretending poise, smoke clouds concealing fear and shiver. Cars glide, drift and dive, offering new life, or the death of this one. Officers stop and smile, knowing names, rap sheets and preferences, elbows hanging out wide hulled cruisers, only a uniform division from clients hovering in shadowed queues. Women walk on, spirits momentarily innocent, dreaming of stage careers and red carpet posed poses, knowing one room awaits, with dead-sprung bed and coughing pipes.

Young lives cavort uncourteously, voices vocal and decorum low, giggling away the best of years, memories etched in alcohol and amnesia. Arms linked, all one against an ageing world, courting lovers and disaster with abandon, congaing lamp posts and crises, timeless under sun and moon. Quoting literary giants while behaving as illiterate dwarves, gushing mouths pour out unique youthful lives, never to return as they disappear into the dawning day.

Lonely spouses tread the sputtering gutters, lost in past, befuddled in present, hands deep-pocketed, eyes sidewalk skedaddled. Free of wails and feeds, remembering single happiness and envying passing youth, aching with heartbroken heartaches for the one they missed, so long ago, so far away. Bar-driven plight, counter-end seated, nursing the one shot, target of the waitress’s demure gaze. Music old school echoes around empty glasses, as clock hands tick to dangerous times; they leave, shuffling the deck back home.

The stalker shadows, silent silhouette shifting, gaze preying on herds of the inebriated, watching stilted stilettos meander and stutter. Doorway camouflage concealing demented lusts, eyeing the slow or lonely, dogging tracks ever closer, a life nearer to final curtain. Bewaring quietly drifting bluecoats, avoiding big brother’s prying camera, breaths rising as distance falls, selecting perverted love’s desire. A crumpled coke can cries a warning, a head of tangled tired locks turns, widening pupils alerting senses and pace quickens with heartbeat, the safety of the pack swift recovered. Thwarted passion scuttles home, hungry and unsatiated.

Motherly smiles beckon and warm, church vans offer soup ministry, scooping flotsam and jetsam of misjudged lives. Congregations collect, hands cup-warmed, receiving the Word, a small price paid for subsistence. Preachers enthuse self-believed words, misunderstanding listeners’ plethora of plights, dreaming of cosy home comforts and a bed made in heaven. As the sheep wander wayward, nightly fields to find, self-congratulated do-gooders hug, unspokenly saying ‘But for the grace of luck…’

I turn and retreat, leaving the night city to settle, camera shot, notebook noted, espying the creep of dawn, removing from visibility the city’s viscera of nocturnal life.

 

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