28 June 2005

The Sun's Not Yellow - It's Chicken

Heat And Work Ethic

So I'm sitting here at a little iron table looking onto the courtyard at the center of the Boston Public Library, the one that looks kind of like a miniature Italy, complete with marble walkways, columns, a fountain featuring dancing bronze, and what appears suspiciously to be a papal balcony. I'm sitting here, listening to John Darnielle, and pretending to write as I people-watch. This consists mainly of grimacing solemnly.

As an artist, you too can muster the courage to lie to strangers and close friends.

This comes out of nowhere, and is the only thing I have written yet today. I find it inspiring. I am about to follow it up - perhaps with, (Cheating and stealing are also permissable)? - when a Nigerian man in uniform informs me that the library is closing, and I need to leave the colonnade, though not in so many words.

Meanwhile, the heat is biblical. The sidewalk peels. The flowers in the oil paintings down the hallway are wilting. In a wet heat like this, plaster swells tumescent and cracks, couples scream at each other in airless rooms, cars leave their tire melted on the street. The underage sleep fitfully, bathed in sweat, dreaming of mojitos and the iced teas in Long Island. Mold and insects encroach. Carpenter ants breed in dressers. Moths seek out seven hundred fifty thousand softly glowing lights. Rats the size of shoeboxes grow fat on garbage and insulation and loll around in apartment living rooms half-crazed from fever. The heat smells like rotting fruit, oily suncreen, the backwash frm air conditioners, burning meat, car exhaust.

My mother calls me and tells me last week she rescued a baby bluejay that the barn cat had in its mouth. Today she saved a baby morning dove being attacked by bluejays. When headlines shout that giant morning doves have crushed Tokyo, I will know the reason why.

Heat does strange things to a man. It ages me, for instance. I complain of creaking joints. My speech slows. I savor cold beverages. I refer to all of my drinks as being 'on the rocks.' I acquire a Southern plantation-owner accent that first reared its head one July in Virginia. It's the kind of talk that comes when every syllable has the same drawn-out consistancy as simple syrup. I rock non-rocking chairs. I want to smoke or chaw something and I don't know why. Eventually, I fall asleep, grumbling about the War of Northern Aggression.

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