top of page


          The heels of my boots click-clack-ack-ack-ack on the solid marble, high arching echoes swimming through the tall ceilinged, hard surfaced building as I gallop down the stairs.  Not a thing in sight tries to impede the stampede.  Rather the walls applaud me until I stride through the portal and enter the empty street.  My echoes follow, dissolving slowly into the soft night all around me.  Silence rushes back like water rushing into the openings of a slowly sinking ship, the silence of a momentarily disturbed night returning.  I feel like I did as a child when my mother would wrap me in a towel after a bath; the stillness cradles me.  I am infused with the stillness, filled to the brim with nothing more than the quiet rustling of the few dry leaves still clinging to their branches.  

          It may be the case that black is the antithesis of light, but there is no time so illuminating as night.  The belly of the night, so late that you can actually feel the buildings around you expanding and contracting with the gentle respirations of their slumbering inhabitants.  That’s why I galavanted down the stairs: I wanted to hear the silence consume the obnoxious noise, to attach myself to the echoes as they flew into the darkness, dissolve into the inky lake of the sky.  As did I.  And thus I strolled along, following the cobblestone path lovingly laid out for me by the city planners of yore.  


          Presently I come upon a homeless man, staggering gracefully and mumbling incoherent wisdom to himself.  His white beard is yellowed with the unclean out-of-doors but in-the-city, his mustache browned with tobacco smoke and on this night tinged scarlet with wine; a 2012 San Giovese scarlet, to be exact, and I can be exact in this case because I left the bottle next to his slumbering form earlier this afternoon.  Of course he doesn’t know this, as he hasn't known any Saturday for the past 15 years that I’ve been his inebriating benefactor.  Nor does he know that I carefully crushed up a Valium and gingerly sprinkled it into the bottle before replacing the cork.  

          “Hey!” I shout at him when we are about 30 paces apart.  My booming voice reverberates off of the towering walls forming the piazza we are in; the sonic oscillations cut through his drunkenness for a moment, his muttering ceases and he stands stiller than any drunk man should.  Glazed animal eyes stare at me; alert, cautious, vaguely curious.  Not thinking, purely instinctual.  Unmoving I stare back.  His swaying and muttering resume as if someone has pressed the play button after pausing him.  

          “Hey!” I shout again, just as loud, and again he is paused, vague eyes turned in my direction.  I stare back at him stonily.  He resumes his promenade.

          “Hey!” I shout a third time, and a third time he is paused.  The low growl of a dog that hears something it doesn't know and doesn't like shines through his eyes; not quite anger, but an ancient defensiveness that all conscious creatures retain within them.  I grin.  

          Out of my back pocket I pull a glass flask of whiskey and hold it by the top, waggling it back and forth.  His eyes follow thirstily.  My grin broadens.  The close embrace of the night gets closer.  

          “Do you want?” I ask in a mild tone.  He nods after an empty second and directs his inertia towards me.  I toss the flask towards him when he is a few steps away.  He snatches it out of the air with a startlingly quick gesture.  Not once has he ever dropped it.  

          A thick, dirty hand, fingernails like helmets, grabs the cap and begins to twist.  He stops mid motion, the beginning of a question in his eyes, as if he is trying to recall a dream that has all but slipped through the fingers of his consciousness.  

I look back blankly.  He shakes his head as one does when trying to forget something uncomfortable, his long matted hair swinging back and forth in stiff clumps.  He finishes opening the bottle and takes a cleansing swig.  It seems to have the effect of wiping a dirty table with an oily rag.  

          “Smoke?” I ask, holding out a new pack of cigarettes.  Large clomping steps carry him to me.  He takes the pack from my outstretched hand with a delicacy that never fails to surprise and delight me, and calmly places a cigarette in his mouth.  I hold a lighter out, the hot small mysterious orb dancing in the air.  He leans forward and lands the tip of the cigarette, jutting out from the cavern of his beard, into the quivering flame hovering at the end of my arm.  He puffs a few times as if it were a cigar and mumbles "thank you, thank you." 

          I lay down on the cold ground.  The edges of the tops of the buildings make an uneven picture frame.  The sky is on display.  He does the same, the end of the cigarette burning like his very own sun suspended in his very own sky.

          “What do the stars tell you tonight, Giaccomo?” 

bottom of page