Thursday, March 23, 2017

Der Kommissar

      His glass beard tinkled faintly as we piled into the back of his station wagon, inside smelled of peppermint and gasoline, the car belched and chugged along, bumping over the rails and potholes.  Electrical wires hung heavy like vines, the game was letting out, traffic dense, trains crammed as we barreled past, watching all the faces blur into one. The windows fogged up he drove faster, drove in and out of paintings, into holes which deposited on the other side of town, dragging fences and trash cans behind. We woke up the dogs in every neighborhood, they strained at their chains and barked like mad at our screeching tires. We begged him to turn on the radio and he did and we all sang along to songs we knew half the words of, songs from when we were small, Der Kommissar, You Spin Me Right Round, Rock the Casbah... suddenly we stopped singing and listened: from his thin translucent lips were slipping words, with the barest excuse for a melody stringing them together. Moons crashed from the sky all around us, crescent moons and half moons and a few full moons, even a new moon or two, most dangerous of all, smashing the windshields of the parked cars, denting their hoods, he stopped singing to concentrate, swerving to miss them, one split open a hydrant and the water sprayed up and froze instantly in a gorgeous rooster tale of ice, we laughed and passed around the cigarettes and offered him one but  he waved it away, we could see right through his hand, just drove and drove between the factories, toward the canal that had been drained and filled with steel wool, toward the river so thick and sluggish it didn't reflect any light but clutched it deep within its depths, knowing it might come in handy some day. He stopped on the edge of the dark water and turned off the engine. We'd forgotten how much we needed silence until that unlit moment, sat there in the dark a few minutes before tumbling out, cackling and slapping one another stumbling through the greasy reeds down to the water's edge, the old man remaining in the car, every glass hair on his head  standing on end as he thumbed the dashboard lighter and reached for the pack of cigarettes we'd left behind.

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