Thursday, January 31, 2008

A watchman's call.

Come closer, come in.

Huddle up with me for a moment, as we sit here and be quiet. Taking a split of a second to gather in the warmth. And now that we’re here, let’s imagine there are people around us. Hustling and bustling, carrying on with the normal activities that people tend to do on lazy Saturday afternoons, that momentous occasion where they find their week in transit between the back-breaking dullness of work and the contradictory obligations of religious gatherings, between that last nightly quiet and the leap back into the fray of stillness that tears flesh like a horde of Mongols in their prime. This is the time when people are people, when they sit in the world and talk out loud, because it might be the only chance that they get.

This is the time to listen.
That was the time where I used to sit back and watch.
I don't get many chances to watch people in motion, not anymore. The reasons for this are nothing sinister, of course. Nothing sinister, nothing special -- Nothing to be called a "happening". It’s just that I find myself at work a lot, which only gives me the opportunity to survey people as they chime in with occasional storytelling and idle insults directed towards people on the other end of the phone. They’re good people; there’s pleasure to be found in that place. But it’s hard to see folks as they are. People in function are not people in fact.

So I’ve brought myself back. Back to the place that has since been morphed into a different sort of animal. I can look around from this elevated perch located in the corner of the coffeeshop that I used to frequently frequent, seeing memories of old spatial arrangements popping up like holograms in front of my veiled eyes. When I come back here, sometimes it feels like everything is nothing but a ghost. Or maybe the ghost is me; I never really seem to know for sure. In any case, when I get a chance to sit back in public, tracing the roads of memory lane the best I can, I remember the scenes that I’ve been lucky enough to see play out, even if the show on display wasn’t meant for me. Sometimes, casual voyeurism is the best way for people to figure things out.

I say this because of the condition -- that pesky “human,” one -- has a tendency to make itself known all around, in ways that are stupid and meaningful and drunk and calamitous and vengeful and quiet; lives that screech like a kestrel’s call, yet still somehow go unnoticed. Like the fellow who sits to my right, voice churning in the very back of his throat as his grinds out unintelligible slurs of speech to no one and nothing, while he clutches a copy of “High Times,” close to the silvery jacket which binds his chest together. Earlier, I’d seen that he had a can of Miller-Lite jammed unceremoniously into his back pocket, and I was amazed that he seemed to have no issue with sitting down atop of it. It makes one wonder if such a thing would ever burst into squirts of foam under his (admittedly thin and frail) weight. Later, after he took a stop in the commode, he emerged, red-faced, from the bathroom. I caught a glimpse of his back pocket. The can was gone.

I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed this. The watching.
It’s all there, you know.

Wincing before you like the sunken shoulders of that girl behind the counter, the one with a face that isn’t handshake firm. But earlier, I saw her smile. Earlier, she comped me on some eggs. I like her more than the one who stands directly to her left, the one who poses as if she were trying just a little too hard. What she’s trying for, I’ve not a clue. But whatever it is, she wants it.

I look around, I look around -- I see a lot of new faces. The girl who has her rounded features half-hidden by a shelf; the pretentious peacoat-wearing motherfucker who was slumped down on the slippery skin of the faux leather couch, who I could see beginning to sweat as our preferred star burned behind him (Now that I’ve secured his former seat on this couch, his eyes look at me with the force of the rampaging wild as he plays online poker and unsuccessfully tries to hide the porn that he keeps going back to); the mismatched couple who sits in the corner in silence. I remember how it felt, being a silent watchman in the midst. That feeling, the one of plucking plump secrets out from the air.

It really can work out fine. Where you find the trouble, is with the people that you know.

After all, it has been said -- by others, as well as by this particular fool who sits alongside the silvered growler -- that the internet is a tool that steps us forward into a new idea of the ages, helping people establish new modes of humanity when they take a second to stop looking for boobs. It changes the way that we exist. And more often then not, it also helps us watch.

There are people that we know, who won’t say things to our faces. Yet the still speak out into the ether. And we, the watchmen -- we listen.

Listen to words that are draped with ambiguity that somehow manages to cut our thoughts like razorblades as we try to puzzle out the problems that are going on in the lives of our friends, the problems and the loves and the lives, all while never stopping to ask what it all means. We can’t ask. If we did that, they’d know we had our ears to the wind.

And if they knew that, they might not say anything at all.
But as we, the you’s and the I’s, come close and come in, sitting quietly so that they might not hear our breathing -- they say things. And we listen. We watch.

We wonder.
About the lives that are going on outside of the vanishing point of our perspective, the lives that we know -- the lives we thought we knew -- that are moving forward even as we sit around, waiting for clues and voices to give us knowledge of the human stain that we hadn’t been lucky enough to discern in the quiet lulls within our own thoughts.

Here I am, waiting and watching and wondering. I don’t…I don’t know what’s going to happen. Not with the people outside of me, the people who I’ve loved. The people who send out signals of pain that race with nerve speed to my ears, to my eyes. I hope that I might figure something, so I might figure some manner of hope. Even though that’s ridiculous. Even though I know it’s pointless. Sometimes, listening is the best you can do.

After all: a watchman’s quiet voice gets lost on the wind.

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