Friday, November 06, 2015

My Way

My Way

Someone is playing Sinatra, somewhere down the street. The refrain booms out from some distant window over and over again, and I can see the lady across the way disapproves. She is standing outside and shaking her head while she smokes a quick cigarette in the cold morning air. She keeps looking up and down the street in her uneasiness. In a moment, she will go back in her house and disappear from the scene completely. She'll return to what she knows and forget the morning discomfort of someone playing Sinatra far too loud.

The message seems clear enough to me. The song is no soft, jazzy romantic reminiscence. It is a loud battle cry. Someone is breaking out of prison.

I stand at my own doorway and wonder if I should skip my morning walk. I don't want to mess up the moment. I don't want to upset the dynamics of someone's statement in song. The whole thing seems like some fragile balancing act in the circus, a family of Romanians in silver-sequined costumes climbing over one another, and I wonder if my presence will catch the eye of the smallest girl and throw off her timing in a way that brings the entire human pyramid down to the ground.

I trudge down the walkway, my boots crunching dead leaves underfoot. I glance at the woman with the cigarette across the way, and I even half wave at her, not because I know her at all, but because she is making wild hand movements as if she were fending off a swarm of bees. There are no bees, of course, not now, not in the dead, split ends of autumn. Perhaps, she is trying to escape the effects of second-hand smoke. I chuckle at that and then turn up the street toward the boom of Frank's voice. Whatever uneasiness I may have had is gone now. The song has clicked over to begin again, locked in repeat mode for who knows how long.

The cold morning air bristles and I feel my beard go white. Two or three houses pass before I actually begin to feel the air vibrate with sound waves. My breathing seems to find the percussion line, and my mouth blows frost bubbles in time with the music. As I reach the front of the house, I know I must not stop, but I do. I stop and look where the sun cuts lines of light across the large picture window. I stop only to listen and perhaps help celebrate this gesture of madness, this noisy spontaneity, this defiance of the rules of dawn.

When the music suddenly stops, when the song clicks off like a switch, the sudden silence of birds twittering on tree tops surprises me. I look toward the house, and my eyes listen for what my ears have lost. It is then that I see her in the large picture window, a thin woman who is wearing only a man's unbuttoned dress shirt, hanging loosely over her otherwise naked body. Her eyes are wide and electric with a light that seems to spark a halo of fire around her. In one hand, she holds aloft the unmistakable shape of a black remote control, while her other hand is raised high in the air above her smooth auburn hair. She is giving me the finger.


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