(Salome pt 1)(Salome pt 6)

The city seems unchanged after these three years. People pass through it the way nutrients and elements pass through a body. At any given time the city is indistinguishable from its inhabitants. But people come and go, like cells flaking off, while the city, the body, endures.

            I see no one I know. Noel, I hear, live in New York, with Jerody. Feline and Ray, back east somewhere. King’s vacation hasn’t ended yet, when it does it’s hardly likely he’ll wind up here. Dr. Siems died in my car that night. And Salome? Salome survived. Someday I may see her again.

            I awakened that night in the prison hospital, and it was the first thing I was told. She had lived, unhurt, but Dr. Siems had not. I was under arrest for his death. I was given, then, the right to remain silent, but I had no choice. My vocal chords had been ruptured by a blow from the steering wheel, my only serious injury from the accident. I will never be able to speak again.

            The amount of cocaine I had in my bloodstream gave the city prosecutor an easy manslaughter conviction. I couldn’t speak in my own defense, if I could I would have had nothing to say. Salome wasn’t even called as witness, due to the effect the unnecessary mental stress would have had on her. I served three years in state prison. I won’t go on about it. To be caged like a beast turns a man into a beast. For three years, I lived, a beast among beasts, caged in body and soul. And now, free, I’ve returned to the city, to become whole again.

            Still, sometimes, when the sun comes in low over the rainbow houses, if I’m out in the avenues near the ocean, in a Chinese grocery, and looking up from my shopping I see the rooftops on the east side of the street, one by one, flare red in the sunset, a silent flame take them over and passing on, a hand laid for a moment on a feverish brow, then withdrawn…

            …sometimes when the fog prowls with a thousand mad fingers probing the dark corners of the city, the stairways into forgotten basements, nuzzling like a cat the sleeping winos, the hungry and furtive old men on benches in the park; and the tower of Twin Peaks rides up out of the fog, like the mast of a ghost ship, somehow, dizzyingly above the clouds, above the pink and grey, sinuous, swirling, dissolving mist that has caught the city in its velvet fist…

            …sometimes when I see a flock of seagulls, rising together, in the sunlight, from this distance, glittering like the facets of a single gem, rising together, white and shining, circling, inter-weaving, like a flux of energy, like a whirlwind of stars, rising from the littered beach, all together like a single being…

            I remember her dance.

Ken Zimmerman (c)1985

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