Listen to the silence
Last night, I eavesdropped. The sounds of other peoples’ lives left open windows and stretched across the street, a radio tinning out a baseball game, a waft of disco floating from a propped-open door. A radio playing at night is the one of the loneliest sounds in the world, the house in darkness, the listener lying on the couch or sitting in the sagging chair, the little girl trying to get to sleep to programs originally aired before her parents were born.
On the next block down, by Cindy’s other house, is a blind man. He’s tall and cool, reminds me of Dexter Gordon in the later years. The man had a wife, but she hasn’t made an appearance in quite some time, so I assume she’s gone, either permanently or taken away by health problems. The man sits on his porch and smokes cigarettes. He walks casually around the neighborhood with a white cane that he barely sweeps across the sidewalk. And during baseball season, he will sometimes sit on his porch and listen to the game. I don’t know what it is about the sound of a baseball game coming out of a radio. It seems old-fashioned, like going back to a time I barely knew, and the man is in the dark, and I am in the dark, and the announcer sounds like the 1970s to me, like what I’ve heard of the decades before, too. It’s melancholy.
So there were the radios and the neighbors down the street having it out. I was trying to get home fast because the energy in the air felt like it needed a victim (and there were screams, and lots of traffic, and large men shambling down the sidewalk). On the last block before home, I got caught up in music that flowed out of a cracked door on a second story landing. The house was dark. The sound was pure nostalgia, though I couldn’t make out the song. It brought me back to West Street, 1982, the wall I shared with the neighbors, and the rap music they would play at night, quietly, but loud enough that I could hear it as I was trying to sleep in my room with the one rust-colored wall.
Rust, the color of decay, was what I chose over burgundy that year. I never regretted it. As twilight settled in, I would sit next to the wall in the dark and listen to records with my headphones on, so that no one else could hear my music.
Adapted from the prompt “Burgundy.”
The title is taken from the Joy Division song “Transmission.”
Image Some rights reserved by Brandon Christopher Warren.