Bang, clap, beep

Bang! Bang! Bang! Steel pounds steel as a temporary casino goes up. Cool winds raise my hair and carry the scent of spring. Mumbling construction workers stand idle, assessing their work.

"Hey, hunny, how you doing?" nods one who smiles.

Beep, beep, beep, a crane heading in reverse notifies passersby.

Car motors roll, emitting exhaust. A horn honks and a seagull caws.

Clap, clap, clap, go a set of quick high heels on the sidewalk; they fade as she crosses the street. Change clinks in his pocket, and cigarette smoke claims the air for a few seconds. Sirens in the distance.

I continue on to my destination.

Like a slow roller coaster, the People Mover shuffles overhead. Bus brakes squeal to a halt. His suit speaks as the fabric rubs between his thighs; car keys jingle in his hands. I can smell the grass on the old courthouse grounds.

"It was really fucked up," one man says to another as they walk on. Dishes clank through the open back door of the Greenwich Time Pub.

"He’s not very specific," another conversation trails off. "Let’s just walk up to my office."

Plastic wheels roll on the pavement as he pulls the luggage behind him. Hot urine emanates from the alley. Bus brakes shriek again, and the full load lets out a hiss when it stops. Fast food is nowhere in sight, but the scent is everywhere; a general smell of grease fills Woodward.

A grocery cart rattles along the pavement as a homeless man pushes it across the boulevard. "Are you writing me a letter?" he asks. "I would like to hear from you, Miss Beautiful. Don’t you model? Yes, you model, as beautiful as you are," he says, trying hard to get my attention away from my constant note taking. He doesn’t know that I am recording his every word.

"You have to write it down before you forget. I’m distracting you," he apologizes. "You’re distracting to me."

He gives up on the flattery and tells me what he really wants. "Can I get a quarter for something to eat?"

"I think I only have pennies," I say, happy to be part of a conversation. The coins jingle in my purse and drop into his hand. "I’m sorry, that’s all I have," I say.

"That’s OK. God bless you," he smiles. "Don’t forget to put my name down there. It’s Country."

"Your name is Country?" I ask.

"Country." His grocery cart clatters on.

Tennis shoes squeak, a revolving door swishes with a spin, and she disappears with her noisy shoes. An alarm goes off warning of the armored car about to leave its garage.

"Compared to the deal you presented me … " a conversation passes me by, another one I’ll never hear the end of.

Wing tips smack the cement steps ahead. Water trickles below, hot steam rises from the sewer.

"Oh, I’m sorry," I bump shoulders with a wool-suited man. My head is pointed down at my notepad.

"Excuse me," he says sincerely. Lemon musk lingers for a moment.

Change drops into a parking meter. A motorcycle whizzes by a car with an exploding boom box.

As I open the door of my destination, the song "Summertime" billows above. "Summertime and the living is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high."

Conversations buzz and the scent of coffee fills me.

"There’s only so much a person can do," one woman chats with another. "What’s she gonna do?"

"I don’t know," her friend says, exasperated. "She’s got to get out of that situation. She’s got that baby to care for."

Bang! Bang! Bang! A worker whacks the espresso machine. The hissing steam sounds like a city bus when it comes to a stop.

"And what would you like?" she asks from behind the counter.

"A tall decaf mocha," I say.

"That’ll be $3.18," she says expectantly.

"Summertime, and the living is
easy … "

I hand her three bills, but can’t deliver the rest.

"… fish are jumping and the cotton is high … "

I am short because I gave my last few cents to Country.

I search my pockets and come up with a dime. She lets the eight cents go.

"Summertime …"

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