asheville alley

The rooster crowed. He woke up to an empty bed and the sound of rain sluicing down the gutter.  For a split-second he thought the thought he had tried to exile forever to the furthest reaches of his mind: no matter how much we share with, show to or care for someone else, another person, another soul of flesh and blood, we are always ultimately and forever alone with our thoughts and ourselves. Then he realized the rain was just the sound of her making water in the little common bathroom off the hallway outside his room. He chided himself and resolved to see the good in people especially himself. 

She was tall and full of woman as a friend of his once said, what with that hair, a sharply profiled nose and green eyes flecked with variegated opalescent shards of gold. Her chin drew into a soft point below a thin but full smirk always adorned with a magenta lipstick. She had nice, small breasts, a taut stomach and a sweetness below that when he cupped her supple cheeks in his hands and kissed her down there reminded him of a church aglow in the candlelight playing all around them in the small room in the North Carolina mountains. When they’d make love it was love beyond who they were as a man and a woman.

He was living in a rented room above the Old Europe Café on Haywood St in Asheville when they met. She worked behind the counter at the Woolworth’s around the corner and was always late for her shift. He’d time when he got there to see her rush in in a whirlwind tying her apron behind her and fixing her waitress’s tiara atop a swirl of deep henna red hair. He looked at her thin naked wrist as she handed him the grease-splattered menu he knew by heart and answered her Sorry what can I getcha with Beautiful women can afford to be late and the minute the words came out of his mouth he knew what he was going to do. Save up and buy her a watch. Now that he was working he could do lawaway down at Kresge’s. A ring was too much too soon. They both went in circles anyway. He had already written the story in his mind. Beginnings were always easy. It was the endings that were tough.

He slid into his britches and put on his flannel shirt then stepped into his railroad shoes. The Southern line bellowed into town and he knew it was too late for breakfast. He’d lost his copy of Death in the Woods and Gaddison never said crap if he had a mouthful and they’d been pulling that route for three months now. Hungry and lonely all the way down to Charleston. Rain started tapping on the window like the fingernails of a haughty, impatient woman on a linoleum counter. He wondered why a rooster crowed at a sunless dawn. Grabbing his brakeman’s jacket he fished in the breast pocket for his timepiece to no avail. Goddamn Gaddison he mumbled to himself alone.


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