Sounds of a San Juan night, drifting across the city through layers of humid air; sounds of life and movement, people getting ready and people giving up, the sound of hope and the sound of hanging on, and behind them all, the quiet, deadly ticking of a thousand hungry clocks, the lonely sound of time passing in the long Caribbean night.
Hunter S. Thompson
The final curtain fell and the public, some still applauding, others already discussing where they’d go next, left the theatre. I took up my flashlight and began to make my rounds, collecting forgotten things and tidying up. When I came to the second floor there stood before me a startled girl, with long, dark hair and pleading doe eyes: is there any way we can stay behind? I understood that she had mistaken me for another stowaway. I told her we could, if she wished, but we’d have to hide. I lit my flashlight and led her up towards the chambers where the prime minister, royals or other notables sat when visiting. The room was embellished with gold laden candlestick holders and a low ceiling adorned with fine frescoes depicting wars from medieval times. Once inside, I drew the curtain on our hiding-place, lit all the candles and showed her to an armchair, where she sat looking out over the dark theatre. The empty seats were visible in the shadow and our human forms created silhouettes on the distant stage curtain: two awkward giants, made giddy by the dancing candle flames. The balcony was lined with soft red velvet cushion; and it was here that she rested her head upon her arms. Her eyes began to close, fluttering, like a butterfly’s wings when it comes to rest – once, twice and then they shut: she’d fallen asleep. I sat beside her, quietly – listening to her breathing. I could feel her tiny breathes escape – her deep sighs – come rushing up against my skin where they’d break like waves. In the silence of the empty theatre, the dreams of a sleeping girl played themselves out before dying candle light, and I – my giant form diminishing, ever fading, into sleep, and a dream – just like her.
You put your hand into your coat pocket, and then slowly slide it out. You give your head a quick turn towards the bar just to your left. You look almost surprised to see it there. Had it been there all this while? You place both hands on your lap together in tight fists, and then in a well-timed choreographed dance, they open like two fans, move apart and flutter, down to your sides where they rest an instant before folding; your palms press against the bench’s edge, your fingers curl, take hold. A triad of elegantly dressed Japanese ladies cross your path laughing amongst themselves. You smile and swing on the edge of the bench like it was a swing in a playground, legs out straight for the flight into the air… and folded beneath you again for the return. Your shoes are white leather, with a low heel. The top of your foot is bare. They’re dancing shoes. When raised they catch the light and shine. You follow the Japanese ladies with your eyes as they enter the bar through its revolving glass doors, laughing all the while. Again, you slide your hand into your pocket, only this time it waits for you there, till you stand up. The movement is so sudden, caused by some outward force, a desperate shout for help, a call to retreat or attack, the due arrival of your train. Only there is silence: no more trains will come this afternoon and the laughter of the Japanese ladies has taken a seat inside the bar. You stand before me, as straight backed as a hard sounding capital letter, a ballerina – on the tips of your toes. I wait for you to see me. Let me see what you have in your pocket. Is it a coin? Will it be enough to pay for that soul saving cup of coffee, enough to make a call? Have you forgotten to say goodbye? You look away from where I am and you stare hard and long down the tracks, in both directions, to the end, and then to the beginning. Somehow, with nobody going in or out, the doors of the bar begin to swing and out slips the distinct, inviting sound of a spoon being place beside a ceramic cup, which is sent out to you, greets you personally. You rise, walk fast, your dancing shoes beating out sonnets on the stone platform beneath you, and you vanish into the laughter and warmth, while the glass doors still spin.
Time drifted for Undinélé like a sailor at sea. In school she was often in trouble. ‘Undinélé, stop dreaming,’ the teacher would say. Geography was the worst: the continents, heavy as enormous ships, floating across maps. How did they not fall down to the darkest depths? She carried this question home with her and, in the evening as she played chess with her father, she wondered if the power that held the world together was not something as simple as thought itself. A smile would surface then, like a wave come to shore. And she would move a piece forward.
His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.
“In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.”
― Raymond Chandler
It is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Doisneau, a French photographer whose ironic juxtapositions created images that are humorous and ironic.