Nowhere: A Byzantium
Forgiveness, is the release of all hope, for a better past. – Buddy Wakefield
They say angels exist, but angels are like diamonds to the poor: a higher class investment into a sense of hope that never pays out. And since when do the poor ever see a diamond, without blood, outside of a window? Still, there are about a million small prayers trickling about the atmosphere, and one has to wonder where they disappear to when they leave. I had my prayers, or prayer to be precise, but now it’s among the vanished; a pale-colored fire that I would love to hold onto but I just can’t move my fingers to grasp at it anymore.
I fumble through this outdated paper, my fingers slip with every forceful switch of the page. The sound of wrinkles echoes in the hallow tranquility, as the smell of weak-filtered coffee waved around its profound egotistical appearance. Coffee was never a quiet drink. The weak grey clouds hovered above my home, as a small breath of cool air swayed the bare trees outside; a sign of the Christmas season overwhelming nature. It seems the angels have left the earthly mother to fend for herself this time of year. The paper trembles from my hands onto the ground like flood water, leaving all but a remaining strip in my hand. It was a blank sheet of white paper, lines drawn in and a handwritten message on it. “This place is nowhere after all.” The words sat stone-like on the page, making it heavier to hold. I felt as if it was pulling me downward to the ground, my face nearly feeling the cold tile slapping my face, but I did not fall as I echoed the message. “This place is nowhere after all…”
I shook off the trance, and piled the papers onto the table while leaving my coffee unattended. Crumbling the note, I tossed it in the trash and walked outside. It was an Autumn atmosphere in a Winter month, leaves still trailing off in the chilled natural breath. I walked up the street, and even though I told myself I didn’t know where I was going, I always knew. It was that idea reaching out to your consciousness you want to push back, only I wasn’t fighting too hard anymore. Only five minutes into my walk, and I hit the gas station on the corner of the intersection, notoriously robbed each week. I walked into the shop, grabbed a bottle of aspirin, a soda, and a candy bar.
“You’re usual, sir?” said the cashier. His face spread outward revealing weak teeth as I handed him the money.
“You know me too well, Joseph,” I replied as the register opened and the money was dropped into the drawer, gracefully landing in their respective spots.
“Only every year, Mr. James. Only every year.” A chuckle escaped the stretching hands of his cheeks as some change danced into my fingers. I grabbed my items and left, waving goodbye to the over joyous cashier of a failing gas station. Walking outside, I saw a woman across the street carrying an infant. Her hair gently lashed her faintly tanned cheeks as her eyes drooped to the scratching cement of the side walk. It looked as if she had been waiting at the end of her lifetime for awhile. She never walked in beauty, only with beauty when she could afford the grace to do so, but grace has always been a cold bitch when it came to being needed. No one ever told her she never needed a man, so she picked up whomever she could, but most could barely show her simply, Love. It was all she really needed, not just some anonymous donor to carry her off while she sucks the wedding ring off of his dick only to be smacked in the face for the millionth time. The ground is always the one to hear her soft, violent weeping as the baby sleeps, unaware of the future before it as the mother is unaware the extension of her life. She was always a metropolis when she forgave, since everything about her is forgiving, including her steps as she walked away to a place only we can dream about.
She barely graced the oceanic sidewalk as a car slowly wandered by, windows rolled halfway down. A gun extended from the small crevice and the car shouted a fierce war cry, polluting the air. The groups of people staggering around the woman were all wounded by an enema of lead, and only two members had the energy to grab their guns and shoot back at the vehicle. The wheels played a short song of painful rubber slashing the cracked asphalt then escaped the torrential array of bullets leaving an aftermath of vacant moans caressing the wounded bodies on degraded pavement. I ran closer to see if she were alive. Dropping my purchase, my hopes of her living splattered like the avalanche of pills tumbling around the parking lot. The street was devoid of any cars so I walked across, to where her body lay covering her baby. I knelt down to move the body, hoping at least the child was breathing, but there was no life to found there.
I lifted myself up, wanting nothing more than to shake the dust from their eyes and watch them run away to somewhere, like the children who pretend to run away from their parents beneath the table. Where were their angels, as they lay on this crackling foundation? Angels, they exist…but it seems they never appear to a place like this. My eyes travel back to the gas station, only to see it empty, the windows boarded up, and the pumps dried out. The road carried in it more aging cracks than the elderly man in the mirror with a hot date, and the breeze carried more dust from the abandoned street corner. I look back down, only to find the bodies missing, leaving me in nowhere after all.
“You never could save them,” a voice shouted from behind me. “They would have died then, just like they have died today, and years ahead of us.” I turned around to see the owner of the voice only to find myself walking towards me. My mirrored self stretching out its hand, holding a crumpled piece of paper. I grasped it, hands trembling at the sight which stood in front of me. Slowly I rolled it out, seeing it was an article dated three years ago today.
December 15, 2007. Street Corner Shootout.
It was a gruesome scene at the corner of 75th and Broadway, where a drive by shoot out occurred. Police have reported 9 casualties, one of those casualties being an infant. The cause for the shoot remains unknown, though it is believed to be gang related. Names of the deceased have yet to be released as the bodies have not been identified as of yet. Officials are working to get the names to the public as soon as possible but some, they say, will remain unknown. The Chronicle expects more information to pan out as the week moves on.
I couldn’t begin to speak after seeing the article. Before I could even gather up the ability my other self spoke, “You really don’t remember,” the words swam out in a sigh of disappointment. He opened his arms as if to say welcome to the world, but there was no one to welcome, turning around he spoke, “Until next year. This place is nowhere after all, you know?” I walked onward, though I never walked, just like I was alone but never really alone. My eyes trailed the corner again as I walked the opposite direction of myself, collecting the dust as I moved. He was right, this vacant threshold is the crossroad of Nowhere, and angels never enter Byzantium.