our daytime jobs–we live out our walking suicides in sound-proof offices, we tiptoe past water coolers so not to wake the truly thirst-deprived, our boolean brains numbed :& cross checked by remote server fascists, memory packets sent out to the forgetful, drunk on their own amnesia, on the subway home, a sardine can of zombies who only get hard at death.
kat once told me, after a fight about who used the last of smooth peanut butter, that she was going to dye every strand of hair a different hue of the color wheel. i told her if she did, i would dye all my pubies, one side–warm colors, the other–cool. she looked at me with that distant mona lisa smile. she said to give her an ear & she would paint me a van gogh with a nude monotone sky.
a staticky radio station, underground as my great granddaddy’s combat boots, reports a possible invasion from the Soldiers of D.U.N.E. they’re going to invade manhattan from battery park then work their way up to the sushi bars, the pink cocktail lounges open until dawn. They want to flood the streets with liquor, turn everyone into a stinky fish smelling of water hydrant & abandoned shoes. they will shout ” remember trotsky. remember the menshivik death grip. remember the hordes from the white hills who died with their fur on.” Then the morning clouds will descend & give everyone a new identity. and a slightly different memory.
i’m carrying kat, drunk kat, slinky kat, mai tai oh my too many kat, over my shoulder from club Nemesis. she’s beyond dizzy. she’s sputtering half-syllable nonsense & asks if i understand. we cross cobblestone streets & main avenues where the soul of the night sucks up the left-over three-piece ghosts from daylight closets. they’re going to get laid under lava lamps so they can keep track of their hands. kat keeps slapping my back & says let’s go up to the rooftop, georgie porgie, that tenement on east 6th by avenue b or something & she says she wants to fly.
i say, no, kat, not again, you’re not immune to gravity & liquor. she keeps saying, as she’s kicking her barefeet ‘cuz she kicked off her shoes some 12 blocks before, that she knows how to fly & not-flying is only for the still-lives & hope-challenged like me who can never open their inner eyes wide enough & the west village crew who still believe in zippers & goth & turtlenecks now endorsed by justin bieber ‘cuz he hates his new tattoos.
so we’re up here on the roof. like we own noho, soho, & a whole galaxy of black space. a space so empty that our echos could travel to god at 4.5 times the speed of light & back to us, encrypted. kat laughs, laughs at nothing at everything & skips toward the edge. I say no no no. she says yes yes yes. i grab the edge of her skirt. she hangs her head over the ledge of the roof, her arms flailing, doing this messed up crawl stroke, breast stroke. her hair is floating to the stars, her head to the streets below. she laughs. “see, ” she says, “i told you i could fly.” later, we take a taxi home. the night turning to three different shades of morning as kat passes out from too little gravity.
in the apartment, kat wakes up at noon, kat, butt-naked, pear-sized breasts released for now from latex-cup prisons, stretches her arms toward opposite walls, and says “am i still alive?”
“no,” i say, “you’re just an impression of flawed beauty.”
Kyle Hemmings has been published in Sonic Boom, Right Hand Pointing, Unbroken Journal, and elsewhere. He loves street photography and ’60s garage bands.