.

 

We are going to

“We are going to listen to some music,” said Scott. “Get up your Russians.” I have this Russian website I visit where the songs cost ten cents each. This is one of the things I like to do the most, hang out and shop for music online and listen to it.

“You know what I want to hear?” Scott asked. He was suddenly guarded.

“There's amnesty tonight,” I said. “You're cool.”

“Band called Ace,” he said. “'How Long' is the name of the song. Driving song.”

“Let me just get that for you,” I said. “I've decided on total amnesty. I don't care what anyone listens to any more. I tried to tell Lucy about how much I like Chicago,” I said. “And she just looked at me. Like how could she love this man who just said he likes the band Chicago?”

Suddenly I wanted to tell him my morning dream about a man living here, in my apartment, fifty years ago. This man is alone and he has a few pots and pans, a cheap old bed, a chair, and a collection of jazz albums that he spins over and over. He has a job in the city, where he is a ghost, and when he comes home he sits in his chair and smokes cigarettes, drinks, and listens to his albums for two hours. He doesn't read. I can't see him any more fully than that. I know a few things about this man: he does not own a bicycle; he owns several gray ties; he believes in ghosts, in a small way.

Walking around I sometimes become aware of men in straw boaters and women in crinoline with parasols walking down the same street as the girl with a pierced navel. A man in knee breeches yells out to man in a fedora carrying a trumpet case. The beatnik snaps his fingers as Manahattoes and Canarsies walk by. A woman in a housecoat. Trollies rise up out of the street, tracks gleaming from use. Cobblers and leadsetters, tailors, candlemakers, butchers. All are, I notice, heading for the park. I slide in besides a man from the Depression wearing a stained tie. “When we get there,” he says, “I am going to have a popsicle.” He pats his chest pocket. “Pal,” he says, “do you have a light?”


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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