NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Three

The cars are the wheels of the city. The city is the body of the car. Smoke and steam are air and water, air and water and fire and thoughts of time and distance and speed.

The streets talk to the windows, and the windows are the words of the streets. Behind the windows are drums, and phones, and the drivers of cars, dictionaries and old photos of the rowing team. I want to take you away from here, but you are in the car, and the cars wheels are your wheels, and the breath of the smoke is your breath.

Come to the club tonight, you say, and the club forms in my mind, accretes around the sand-grit of your cigarette ash; the club is smooth and pearlescent, and slides through my mind like a child’s toy fallen into the foaming rush of the river.

The car is long and thick, and inside it you bring a world of smoke and liquor and dancing, and the street talks to the windows of the buildings that pass by, shop-fronts and apartments, the precinct house and the pillory, the Church of Our Lady of the Distant Fields, where the statues weep for our sins, and we sin while weeping, all the world sinning and weeping together on this holiest of Saturday nights.

Dangle me like a fishhook, baby, the singer commands, as smoke dangles in the air, and the fishhooks of the police watch from the high balconies far above the roof, the searchlights searching, the voices raised in song, joyful sinners kissing weeping saints, my long circle arcing finally back around to you, you the golden child, the proud stuff of dreams there in your seat by the window, louche and relaxed and pouring yourself another two fingers of Oban Single Malt from the car’s very own bar, Simon the driver whistling softly a tune that his mother used to sing him at bed time, because he knows that you don’t mind when he whistles.

The cars are the wheels of the city, they hold it up and move it along, they have bags of money in the trunk, in the boot, stuffed under the back seat, and money talks, money talks to the street, and the street talks to the windows, and the windows give their light generously to the air, smoke curling and coiling, and for all of the talking and shouting and singing and cries of anger or joyful release, for all the growling of engines and screeching of tires, the city is silent in the night by the river.

“Look at the lights on the water,” you say, or you said on some other night. Your sweet red cloche hat cradles the city’s soul in its arms, and I think of the smooth surface of the water, and what might be under it, and how far down the water goes, down down down from the air and the piers and the docks and the water-stairs, down forever into the depths where there is no air, but there is water and mud and debris, and centuries of forgotten things.

A penny for your thoughts, you might say, but you don’t, as the patterns of the windows and the headlights and the neon signs reflect from the surfaces of your eyes. Your eyes take in the patterns of light, eagerly welcoming them as new examples of familiar things, allowing the carefully-shaped glowing tubes to deliver their photons directly to your hidden intimate retinas, forming shapes and signs and letters that pop in your brain, and whisper to your mind, Budweiser, Open, Hotel, Eat, Open, Restaurant, Delicatessen, Music, Drugs, Radio City.

The words whispering into your mind from the neon signs are words chosen, planned, by people in the past, people who are alive or dead, present or absent, but have left their mark on the city, and now the city whispers their words into your mind as you sip your scotch, and the rich peaty memory of time slides burning down your mortal organic throat.

The cars are the wheels of the city, the night is oil, the smoke is gasoline, and everything is flammable, every neon sign and every breath and every steakhouse catching an efflorescent fire from the thoughts of children, from the cries and the ambitions of adults, the skittering of rats under the streets, in the old tunnels and the new tunnels, bright with subterranean dew, where mushrooms grow small and stunted, closely huddled to the cement and the iron rails.

Sharp metal softly pierces and separates tissue, could softly pierce and separate the membranes of the tires of the wheels of the cars of the city, letting the air out in grateful sighs.

Thoughts of sharp metal turn themselves in the neon light, reflecting in curving patterns on the metal panels of the moving cars and the doors of the club. Men and women come and go, men in dark suits and women in bright dresses, wool and felt, cotton and silk, the whisper of cloth against cloth and cloth against skin.

Is this where we have come to, is this what we have come to? When the dark stone blocks are arranged in the old way, they spell the secret name of God, and if the name is spoken the doors will unlock, and all will be revealed, and ancient things will be released. What would the rough beast, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born, make of the city and its neon, the club and its busty cigarette girls, the insouciant blues sliding sleek into the foggy night without visible regard for the depths of time and the need for salvation?

Save me, honey, hold me, baby, oh what you do to me. Only a worshiper can understand, only on our knees are we gifted with that final revelation (“now you can drink it or you can nurse it, it don’t matter how you worship, as long as you’re down on your knees,” like the man said), that final gift that comes whether or not we ask for it, whether or not we want it.

“I’ll never understand you,” you said, with your lips and tongue and your throat, spoken from somewhere in the pulsing depths of your body, your brain, your tenuous connection to Mind, and when you said it it shook the air, and the air shook membranes within me, and my brain pinged and my Mind changed, and I thought you that thought that you would never, in fact, understand me. Who am I, and who are you? When the blocks align, all questions will be answered, and we will know the will of God.

The cars are the wheels of the city, the city is the heart of the nation, the nation is the skin of the world. Beneath the skin lie the bones, the muscles, the blood. The blues sing sweetly of the blood, how it pulses and how it sings, and the smoke gathers in the upper corners of the big room, a woman laughs, a chair scrapes, someone cries out something unintelligible, drinks are served, and slide down so many tender throats.

I feel the dawn coming. I feel the dawn coming, I feel the dawn. Coming.

Fling Four

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