The ally sounds behind my apartment come to life at sunrise seven days a week. I crack my eyes to see the sun squeezing through the dirt-grayed window, eyes fixed on the pigeon, sleeping on the air conditioner outside. Most of the older residential buildings in New York City don’t have central air, forcing tenants-like myself, and residents to rely on electric units for cooling. The awkward steel boxes hover over pedestrian sidewalks, threatening to fall at any mishap, or malfunction of manual instillation. They decorate turn of the century buildings, bulging reminders of the ugliness of modern privileges. They remain window bound year-round; storage is scarce in the city of the hard living.
I stretch out in defiance against my need to get out of bed. My jersey-cotton sheets curl around my body, warming me like the heat from a plump woman. I hear the coffee dripping in the pot but I don’t smell it yet, I close my eyes waiting; and go to her. I wonder how she could’ve done what she did. I keep replaying, in my mind, the conversation we had the other night. I don’t stay there long, I have to piss and the morning blood isn’t helping. I scratch the mound of hair on my chest, and drop both feet to the floor. I stare at the reflection of myself; my eyes are ringed in darkness, and hidden by swollen eyelids. I slouch over and then up again, pushing my pectorals outward, sucking in my gut, noticing time’s shadow across my body.
I can still taste bourbon on my breath from the night before, feel it pulling at my limbs as I make way to the bathroom. The pole-radiator next to the toilet hisses as it warms, a cockroach runs behind it when I approach. I can smell the coffee, as it finishes brewing. The pipes whine when I turn on the shower. My fogless mirror instantly fogs as soon as the water heats up, it reminds me of her- her face in the mirror, red- eyed and sweating. I need a cigarette already; the Nicorette in my jacket pocket will have to do. I towel off, wrapping it around my waist; I notice another gray hair.
My jacket reeks of smoke, I inhale, for old times sake. The click of the wrapper suffices for the strike of a match. I pop the gum in my mouth and crunch the shell, almost as appealing as the first puff. I take my coffee black, and in a stainless steel travel mug, made for hiking. Riding the subway during rush hour is bumpy and narrow, like a steep mountain trail. I should’ve left her there.