A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Will you please come down off that ledge and eat your dinner?

Shirley wants me to please come down off this ledge and eat my dinner. But I won’t. Not this time.

Sure, I have said that before. Twelve times. I’ve come down off this ledge twelve times to eat my dinner. Not this time. I’m staying here forever.

I like sitting on this ledge. I watch the cars between my feet and smoke my cigarettes and stroke my moustache. It’s 43 stories to that little black car down there, and I’m not afraid of that. He’s just waiting for the light to turn green, and I can see his little turn signal blinking. He’s going Uptown, and I’m waiting for that light to turn green.

When you drop something from this height you can’t help but think about yourself dropping. There is no wind today and it surprises me how quickly my cigarette butt falls. I lose sight of it at about the thirtieth floor but I imagine it falling still, and it reminds me of how, as a child, I would climb onto the roof of our house and drop marbles. On the ledge of the 43rd floor of the Ambrose Building I close my eyes and I imagine those marbles are falling still, never quite reaching the earth.

Oh, dear. I’ve fallen. I have slipped off my ledge.

Even as I see my ledge getting smaller now I am aware of the cigarettes pack in my robe pocket and think what a shame to have wasted those four cigarettes. Shirley, must be in her chair by now, a temple with one hand, the TV remote in the other. She has given up asking me to please come down off that ledge at eat my dinner.

And I wonder about those marbles, if anyone ever found them after our family moved away from that house. I wonder if some boy found them one hot afternoon when there was no school, and I wonder if he thought about who they had belonged to; if it was a boy like him, someone he might have played with, a ten-year-old who liked to play marbles and shoot cap pistols and sleep outside.

My ride is about over now. I wonder if when I get there, if someone will tell me what ever happened to those marbles, which I can see so clearly now: An azure one swirled with white like clouds; the steel one that looks back at you; the yellow-and-green cat’s eye, the red and white one that looked like candy. And the black one, that looks like a car waiting to turn left to go Uptown.

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