Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rooftop Seer. (Coffee with the Devil, 4.5)

She has flowed upwards, along the scaffolding of a building unfinished. She sits in the moonlight, feet dangling over the edge of a growing tower.

She likes places like these, perhaps even best of all. Tangible evidence that the city is growing, expanding itself. Also, it is high, and with many places to hide. Shadows play harsh and intricate games with the streetlight here, diffused darkness contrasting with sharp white blazing spotlights.

Up, up she goes, enjoying the game of climbing, seeing how far she can get without her feet touching a straight horizontal surface. It is surprisingly easy, the combination of scaffolding and young concrete-and-steel providing enough oddly shaped grip to make her way to the top, without having to touch a conventional surface, like the floorboards of the site's scaffold-jacket.

Once she has reached the top, she seeks the edge. Wind seeks to lash her in the face, but to her, it feels like a gentle caress on her cheek. She has other things on her mind. So now, she sits down, and sets her feet free from the ever-present touch of the bottom. It makes her feel good.

Leaning back, she lights a cigarette, and allows her curious eyes to dart across the city's roofscape, from chimney to gutter to roof-gardens to the gleaming silver windows of the buildings in the distance that are higher than the one she's sitting on now. It calms her down, to see this panorama.

A flock of pigeons wants to land around her. She eyes the fattest one hungrily, and they decide not to. She narrows her eyes, but rests contently with her smoke.

A crow is less scared, or more careless, and sits down on a length of steel near her. It caws once, and she caws back. Crows are not food. Like the reddish-brown wild dogs, the ones with the pointy noses and the large fluffy tails and the eyes like cats and the guts and nerve, they are like her. Like the cats themselves, adaptive, observant, and stern and engaging at the same time, a tiny mirror of the city's personality. There is an understanding. They converse information, of a sort, and do not, in any case, eat each other.

It is different with the pigeons and the rats. They too, spread messages, tell her things about the city's goings-on, and even more, often, than the crows and the foxes and the cats, because their numbers are greater. But because of the same fact, there is less of a care between the species. She is solitary. They thrive in masses. It's an essential difference, although she does feel that deep down, she could not exist without the mass of people and buildings around her. And, but she does not know this, it is the same the other way around. The city needs her, to see and hear and smell and touch and feel, to process all of itself through a single source instead of spread out across all of itself.

Still, plural and singular do not agree, and she does not think that strength lies in numbers. Strength lies in her (although by leave of the city). This, she thinks, is odd, that she knows the strength is hers alone, but still granted by something else. But, like all things odd and not readily explainable, she does not dwell on it any longer.

Instead, she looks out over the city, smoking, and smiles. She lives purely for herself, and is thus as much the city as the city is her.


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