Weekly Download Vol. IV No. 43

Ya Hey by Vampire Weekend

The Simple Brownstone

They are at a party. It is in a simple brownstone. To its right and to its left are equally simple brownstones. Out the back, past the heads of the attendees, and the coat trees, and the picture frames, he sees green. Not a vast pastoral green, but a constructed, manicured, urban green, protected by a slight fence of black iron. He sees trees
and feels the sound of an animal cavorting in the green, away from his sight.

They had entered from the front. They had walked up stairs from a street flanked by sidewalks and shaded by oak trees. They had no car. They had walked. They were conscious of those things. He wore khaki slacks and soft soled brown shoes. He wore a taupe sweater over a blue checked oxford shirt. She wore a skirt to just above her
knees and black boots to just below them. Her blouse was of white silk and covered with a black jacket. He was sturdy. She was radiant.

They flutter through the party. They separate and reunite. He touches her, a light hand on her elbow. She acknowledges him as she is in conversation with their friends.She is tall and her hair smells of clean. His hand finds the small of her back and rests there. In his opposite hand is a drink, sweating and cold. He sips, and it’s tart and strong.The faces all have eyes that sooth him as they see him. He feels at ease. It’s a party of good friends, and a casualness that makes all comfortable. It is a soft spring day and they are celebrating an ever more meaningless birthday, or the birth of a child, or an engagement that had been long coming among these friends. They are still young and this is what they do.

He doesn’t know his friends. They are male and female and black and white and straight and gay. He understands they are his friends, but he does not know them. He doesn’t know her. She is simple and complex and beautiful and plain and engaging and disaffected. He understands who she is, but he doesn’t know her. He should. The
propriety of this place, of this moment profounds him. It surrounds him and warms him, but he can see beneath it. Constructed to make him feel correct.

He feels a low and deep vibration that in an earlier life he would have assigned to an El Camino and an aftermarket sub-woofer. It passes. He feels it again. She stops her conversation and turns to him. He sees curiosity and concern. It passes. They feel it
again. The party stops. He separates from her and begins a concerned walk with determined eyes to the front of the simple brownstone. He descends the stairs and walks to the street.

From its middle he can see the skyline of a vast city. Buildings grow taller as his gaze extends through the distance. The porch of the simple brownstone has filled with the party attendees, and they stare at him for answers. He sees her. In the distance he hears a tiny sound. A small but empowered whine. He attaches it to a siren, an emergency. Something has happened. He hears her small and impassioned inhale of fear. The gasps and cries of the remaining party-goers follow. His turn and look toward them is born more of disdain than concern. They are clustered on the postage stamp porch of the simple brownstone. His friends. They surround her, and their eyes are skyward, desperate to know the cause. Her eyes are only on him, and she is beautiful and damaged. Their eyes meet. His are hollow. Hers are genuine.

Another gut level rumble, this one accompanied by another sound, a distinct and piercing sound of pressure released, pressure of unknown origin evacuated as if the skin of the planet had cracked and its soul shot skyward.

Oh my god! What is it? Their gaze breaks, and she clutches the rails flanking the stairs, bracing herself for the earth’s expulsion. He sees her despair and should hold her, protect her from this madness. But he doesn’t care to. He turns from them on the porch and the towering buildings and begins to run. His soft soled shoes greet the asphalt of the shaded street aggressively and more aggressively. It is all behind him.


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