04: February 2015 #16 - Traffic Patterns

Authored by Chris Capie

Traffic Patterns

by Chris Capie

     It's all just slow moving traffic creeping through town. Turn left or turn right or go straight. Lots of cars. When my father lived here Main Street was one way and there were still trolleys that went up the street and they took you to church on Sunday morning. You still get the feeling that all the streets meet at the same place but too many people are meeting there and no one is going to church. Most days come and go with no more significance than the morning coffee or pieces of the daily paper blowing in the breeze getting caught in storm drains soaking with dirty water and falling to pieces.
     On this day, however, something changed in me. It was a grey Saturday in mid-February at the park near the train station. I remember patches of wet snow covering the patches of green grass covering the mud - mud from the lake swelling with runoff from the creeks and swamps. This whole island was swamps but they filled it in with dirt and rocks and concrete and dust.
     I remember it was so quiet. It was a Saturday afternoon that felt like a Sunday morning. I was on a blue bench on the north edge of the park close to the station and I had just finished staring at the daily paper. I set it down and closed my eyes and listened to the silence. It was a sweet song that put me right to sleep. I woke up to a slightly darker shade of grey and found my paper to be missing. Some passerby had probably picked it up thinking I was through with it. And I suppose I was through with it but I did find a bit of humor in remembering how I had drawn over several of the politicians’ faces. A mustache on him, devil horns on her. It was just something to pass the time I guess. I pass the time a lot.
     I had nothing better to do so I closed my eyes and fell back asleep, only waking after the sky had passed through the rest of the color spectrum and settled on a shade of grey that allowed the slightest ray of moonshine to reach me through the clouds. Just enough to let me know she was there. I suppose I will stand up and stretch a bit, I thought to myself. Good idea, myself replied. I stood up and looked around. Not a soul in sight except the yellow taxis from the station. Slow Sunday. I was standing in the pale moonlight with her beams coming down to the left and an airplane flying on my right. For a moment I imagined them smashing together in a cloud of moon dust and jet fuel throwing off tides and sending the earth careening off into space but I knew they wouldn't.
     I saw another bench in the distance and I made my way over as I felt I was not quite ready to find my way home. A copy of the daily paper held the seat for me and I picked it up to see if it was mine from earlier. Too much of a coincidence I suppose but I still checked. I set it aside and placed my hands over my face and breathed slowly to warm myself up. The ticking of my watch seemed to keep a rhythm with the chatter of trains in the distance and the gently falling rain that was tickling the hairs on my hand and it all slowly blurred into a whirling blue.
     When I opened my eyes I was at the foot of your bed and I heard myself speak.
     When I lay down to sleep beneath the tree I dream of blue water because my river speaks Greek. She comes and goes and she ebbs and flows. Like the winter spring summer and fall. I am a sinner but I sing to pierce the fog. Do you hear my call? Do you hear my voice carry through this cave filled with rags and dirty cards? Do you ever come out here at night to see the stars?
     Who was I talking to? My self observing myself replied.
     In the early morning before the sun when the snow falls with just the right weight to cap the dark stone along your wall and pile up like lazy cats on a fence, I think of you.
     My self outside myself thinks I've never owned a cat. I don't know if I'm afraid of them but I know that snakes and cats are demons to be worshipped, revered and feared. Three Seven. Our father in hell and in heaven. Amen.
     I would try to escape the dull light but Her has big eyes and dark hair. Her is in love with an island and a feeling. Mine is still afraid of an island but it still occupies Mines thoughts.
     How strange a feeling but it was warm here so I stood watching for a while longer.
     And the look in your eyes when you speak of your wife in Germany can make tired dry men cry violent blue tears.
     Upset by what the self within myself had said in my dream, I decided enough was enough and I opened my eyes. I found myself on the bench with the newspaper beside me. It was the day after Valentine’s Day.  A feeling of déjà vu came over me. Had I been here yesterday? No. I spent Valentine’s Day in the city with the bike rental guys and Pepsi, not really knowing what it meant to me. One bike rental guy I spoke with at length had a sad reply to a comment I had made about how much I enjoyed his conversation and wit.
     “Truly you are a great man,” I said.
     He replied, “You mean all my talent and tact? Well I make up for it with what I lack. I'm jealous and competitive but I'd rather step aside and hide behind my wine than talk about my pride.”
     A sad and haunting verse as it rang out in my head that night on the bench with the old newspaper. I got up to finish my walk home.