AMBASSADOR OF MORNING
A bicycle kept the door propped open. Now and then a new group would arrive and en-masse they would all yell "Don't touch the bicycle!" or risk being locked out, stuck up on the roof all night.
There is a man. His suit is ill fitting, there would be something comical about it if his eyes didn't suddenly bulge out in a nervous tic every time he was in-between drinks. His thumb and forefinger bear ink stains, now faded from scrubbing but still marking him in a sort of dull blue stigmata.
Every now and then he looks at his watch and moves his lips wordlessly as if in prayer or concentration.
A girl walks by with a guitar strapped to her back.
"I like music."
She gives him the briefest phony half smile, but before he can even pretend to take it as an invitation for anything, she is gone.
"I like music" he mutters to himself. He talks to some people, but it's mostly dull. If he were not here right now, then where would he be?
He poses this question to a girl whom earlier he had helped look for ice. She takes him to the edge of the roof, below stretches out all of the city. If someone were to unravel all the tangle of streets and hot iron press every hill, then how much more would the city's size grow?
He started doing calculations until she suddenly startled him by pointing to a distant arrondissment and saying "there".
After a while longer she left; he had not made his move, was he supposed to? The variety if drinks to be had were drastically shrinking. Someone is gently strumming a guitar, the best songs sound like rain and have the effects of tears.
It is that brief time before dawn when the air is at its coolest. Through his oversized suit jacket he had not felt it. Luckily, he had heard someone say:
"Well I'm going, it is getting late."
With panic in his heart, he whips out his watch, ah, he should have paid more attention, he was cutting it close, too close. He runs for the door, past the indifferent eyes of people ready for bed but now only to sleep.
Running, his shoes hitting the cobblestones, wet crowd clapping too fast, echoing off the walls. A stray cat shrinks against a cluster of shadows until he passes and it can begin to eat again.
He runs fast, faster, heart stabbing at throat, trying to get out.
Avenue Kleber, a chipped green utility box with its beard of rust marring the wall below it. Fingers fumble through his pocket, two used train ticket stubs, a small coin, a fortune he had found amusing a few days ago.
The keys, they fall to the ground with tiny bell like chimes. He snatches them up, scraping a finger on the rough pavement. He finds the right key and opens the box.
These older boxes only have one switch, luckily.
He quickly looks around then flips it. There is a hiss, hot water hitting the side of a kettle, then the sun rises, dawn.
He resets the switch and locks the box. Hiking up his pants, he hails a taxi and goes home to sleep.
image above: Key #3 by Wayne Wolfson
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