From up here, with the window open, all I can do is lay on the floor and stare at the roof. I’m trying to guess what the avenue looks like – I’m kidding, right? I mean I’ve walked it enough times to know, I just mean I’m wondering what it looks like by smell alone – at this precise moment.
There’s a warm wind blowing in from the East River – okay, I’m guessing again. There’s a warm wind carrying the smell of salt water and I’m thinking it’s coming from over there. I can smell warm bagels coming up from Jacob’s Bakery. The room is filled with the sound of horns – taxi horns, automobile horns, police sirens. It’s all happening down there. Down there on Times Square.
There’s the occasional burst of a gasoline smell as the traffic piles up, all heading up town; all going places, something I ain’t doing on account of lying here on this bare floor.
It ain’t cool – at least it was cooler, earlier – but it ain’t now, not with the sun burning in through the window and making me feel uncomfortable. Real uncomfortable.
I can almost taste the salt water taffy as the smell crawls up from the candy store on the corner. You can buy everything there. I mean everything; and not all of it legal.
I hear some cab driver cussing at another one – it’s all to do with one guy taking the other guy’s parking. Every time the noise drops a little I can hear that trumpet player playing the same tune he plays every Saturday. Same music, same place. I guess it keeps him happy. I sometimes give him a dime if I have some in my pocket. He always says the same thing, ‘Thank you, kindly’. This kid has a real Southern drawl about the way he talks. Don’t know much else about him.
A few minutes later a fire truck crosses the square, and it’s pretty insistent about getting to where it wants to go. From what I can make out, all the other traffic has stopped to let it past. New York is like that, real obliging. Sometimes.
Now and again, I can feel my eyes wanting to close. I’m starting to get real tired, guess it’s to do with being on this floor.
I hear Mrs Sheer from two-fifteen singing her hymns as she climbs the stairs with all the Bibles she didn’t sell.
Through the wall, Henry, the old guy, is playing some 78s and giggling every now and then. He’ll be smoking one of his special cigarettes – it always seems to make him laugh. It’s good to hear.
I can feel the warmth of the liquid running under my shirt. Funny thing is – it don’t smell much. I guess it will later. I start singing a song my mother sang to me when she would sit me on her knee and smile – probably the biggest smile in the world.
It might be the last song I sing.
Guess I’ll be seeing my family sooner than I expected.
I wish I knew what I had done, I really do. All I did was what I always do on a Saturday afternoon. Sit on the ledge of the window, legs hanging over 15 stories below. There I would watch life passing by in the greatest city in the world. Man, it was the greatest sight in the world.
I’m guessing it was bullet, ‘cause I fell back into the apartment real quick, like someone had punched me. I’m guessing it was some crazy guy, somewhere. Probably didn’t even know me. Probably didn’t even know why he did what he did. The city is full of them.
I can feel the blood covering the floor, all sticky like. At least I won’t need to clean the damn stuff up. The Cops will do that.
Kinda feeling tired.
I’m just gonna close my eyes a little now. I’m still singing that song, I can almost hear my ma singing it with me: “Baa, baa, black sheep have you any wool? Yes, sir, ye……”
bobby stevenson 2017