It was just another night. Autumn air had gotten chilly and I was happily wearing a jacket zipped up to my chin. I slowly walked around the neighborhood, G10 in hand, looking for the stories the night was willing to tell me. Some stories are big, loud and juicy, others quite shy and easy to miss. But since our lives are mostly made of the latter, the former only breaking through once in a while like bright beacons in vast dullness, I sometimes try to focus on stories I know will never make the news even though they are the brick and mortar of this surreality we call our world. It’s an exercise in seeing, a game of patience and curiosity. What can I see that is hidden right in front of me?
There were pumpkins by many windows and doorsteps, reminders of a curiously morbid celebration of all things creepy and fear-inspiring. The vegetable in itself means nothing but Halloween works because kids are easily scared and for a time the orange spectrum becomes associated with black, the color of death and decay. There I was, a shadow among shadows, and the night was mine and I didn’t play along and darkness was friendly. But how many kids have nightmares when Halloween comes and pulls skeletons out of closets and witches into silent bedrooms?
Then there was a sign on the highway, reminder that someone has got to do the dirty work. We call upon those who are smart enough to profit from human vice and task them with cleaning up after ourselves. So we litter and later, bitter, we beg for forgiveness. Under a nearby overpass, a pigeon lay dead on a dirty sidewalk. I don’t like pigeons but the death of an animal always seems unfair. For a moment, I forgot that pigeons have almost become a pest of their own and we might have to exterminate them. Who will do the dirty work this time?
And finally, I came upon the strangest sign on a Fire Station door. Unsure that it was for real, I followed directions back to the corner. I still don’t know whether it’s real or not. See for yourself… What happened to calling 911? Will someone local enlighten me? Is this an old sign kept for sentimental reasons?