Monday, November 26, 2012

Man in a Crowd

The streets of this city are as clean as a cathedral, lined with all the accouterments of celebration with ribbons, and streetlights set to look like lamps of an earlier century in the not too distant past.  Brick pathways in parapet shapes and formations decorate the front porches of the shoppes where a myriad of people, young and old, budge and move about with excitement upon the notion of quiet fires in grand homes amidst antique, venerable trees as thick as tunnels and noble as statesmen.

As the people dart across the streets with arms interlocked and cups of hot, smooth drinks steaming in their glad faces, and the constables loll from side to side, controlling the traffic, a lone figure, bent and full of aching pain launches forth, beginning at the end of the parade of patrons who fill the avenue like cattle in a pasture.   In short, ambling juts, and nervous glances to and fro, he peers at the consumers, desparate to catch glimpse of someone's eye, and yet he covers his face with his arm, leading with the elbow--a salient feature like a perturbed nose, too awkward to behold with a keen reception.

Onward he stumbles, headlong toward the end of the main, in drunken fashion he staggers in diagonal lines from one side of the street to another.  Here, and then there, how he longs for contact with another human being, frightened at the prospect of being discovered.  He stumbles forward, shuffling his feet, plodding them in heavy clods and clumps like a giant horse dying from the cannons of war.  Yet he is a small man, timid, with a large head inordinate to his body and small shoulders, toting a heavy coat which covers his neck up to the jaw.  His top hat, so plain in its uncouth anachronism of a bygone era, holds no notice of the sharp-dressed customers and celebrants of the gay recess in which smooth, plastic cards place goods in a bag with one fell swoop and barely a signature.

Alas, the despondency!  The man, eyeing the near-end of the shopper's row, turns once to peer from the middle of the promenade into the windows of the baker, then flitss in the opposite direction in a flash to look with wild attention in the apparel store.  His arms are lifted now, and he's carried along on a conduit beyond his own power.  Soon he'll be abandoned to the river and sink to the bottom.  His moves toward the end of the street, he's beyond his own power, he's being dragged there by something other than his own will, and an icy abyss awaits him--but if only for one look--one contemplation from just one person.  But no, no one.
He cries out in the middle of the street, dropping to his knees, arms raised to heaven, crying out for salvation, yet a horse walks by with a slow saunter, the policeman on top looks casually into the distance.  A mother with her many children checks a list, checks the time, checks the flow of the morass of abetting patronage with their bags and cups and focus on the shop windows.  The man, hunched and maim, cowers in the middle of the street, one arm raised to heaven, the other holding his heaping morass from the ground, straining his eyes to keep in the tears and squelch, with deep constraint and pain, the conflicting desire for vengeance.

No comments: