Sunday, October 05, 2003

Flocks of teenagers materializing like thought-forms borne on the cool night air. An edge of autumn -- brisk but not cold. The Cancer Survivors' Park like an apocalyptic oracle, its touch-activated television screen locked against the encroaching chill, its statues frozen copper silhouettes.

A couple making out in the passenger side of a new Porsche; I glide by clutching my coffee, libido twitching sullenly somewhere in my skull. I find myself rediscovering a close-knit labyrinth of fountains and staircases and charming apartment buildings named after long-dead writers. The lights of Saturday traffic and gaudy horse-drawn carriages are mercifully eclipsed. The world is all shadowed architecture, suddenly shattered as I reenter the realm of the living, coffee cooling steadily. The usual anonymous hordes and casual lovers refracted through caffeinated synapses.

I buy a smoothie at a coffeeshop (Depeche Mode playing in the background) and gradually lose myself in John Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider." The immaculate sidewalks, sparkling as if pregnant with diamond, steer me home, past hotels, across the dark scabrous flow of Brush Creek. My apartment building has a new entry keypad, sans telephone handset. Made of reinforced stainless steel, it has the worrying appearance of something designed to survive an imminent nuclear attack.

Through the abandoned lobby with its fading pink carpet and neatly arranged couches.

Into the elevator.

I punch 9.

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