Apr 01

The Smell of a Street

   Feet rasp reluctantly on the pavement, the soles of shoes long-ago neglected slowly wearing down at the dragging steps; melancholy often takes a toll on ones footwear.

   Breath becomes visible in the cold morning air, swirling out like a snake. Lungs ache. Feet hurt. Hands shake. Head throbs. It becomes apparent to the universe that there is but a lone man walking on the side of the empty street. Not a car passes by, not a person spies him from a window, not even the birds take notice of him. And yet the world knows his dull pain, his lonely stroll. The world knows his life, his death, and the hitchhiking madness that stretches out his metaphors in the roads between.

   His feet move him slowly forward, each step awakening blisters. Time trickles past his mind and through the cracks in his fingers. Time floods, time clogs, time heals no wounds, yet wounds the man's heals as he trudges along. Time has no end, yet ends everything.

   The man continues walking. If he tries not to think, he can see himself getting somewhere, eating up a distance steadily. If he thinks about it, he assumes he knows how slow he's going. One foot forward, then the next, over and over, until one loses reason for walking. That's that. But if he thinks big enough, zooms out on the universe until even his galaxy is dust to dust, he realizes that he will never truly move. He is less than microscopic, frozen in place in comparison to the vast movement that is the world outside of what is his.

   No. One foot forward, then the next. Over and over. There is no universe outside the rhythm of blood, of breath, of feet.

   He is alone, but is he unloved? To be unloved is to become something less and yet more than human. To everyone but to himself and to the ones who may know him, he is not a man but a portrait in flesh, having no existence outside of viewing him briefly in passing.

   One foot forward, then the next...

   "My god, man, do you remember what life used to be? Flashin' lights, deadly fun, poison woman behind locked lips, speed an' confusion an' happiness in ignorance. Man, don't you... don't you got any sense to send back t' your younger self, any happiness to steal forward for yourself now? Any carefree joy in livin' to borrow? It's crazy, man, it's crazy, how life use'ta smell like a street, an' now all a street is is somethin' to put past you as you walk. Now it's death that smells like a street, and a street don't smell as good anymore, don't it, man?"

   He remembers, of course he remembers, remembering is the only and worst thing to do.

   He remembers when blood was the thing that kept him alive, when blood ran through the veins of moving bodies, when breath was something that flooded a woman's lungs. But now, blood trickles through the dying, and breath is exhaled into cold, lonely air.

   One foot forward, then the next. That's all. Nothing else.

   Nothing else would ever matter in this bubble of a world, this world of breath, steps, and thought that he has created around the silence in the dark.


   But all worlds must come to an end. He will reach his destination, wherever it may be, and the feeling of this bubble will soon fade. The thoughts will die. The sun will rise to cover him in the star's blood that unveils humanity's distractions.
   If you walk the road after him, you will find his footsteps, and follow them until the prints fade in slowly to a man with worn down shoes, sitting on the side of the road with a melancholy expression on his face. He will smile at you grimly and sigh, "man, the street just don't smell like livin' anymore."