That was the hue. It was on the twenty-first story where I stared out
into the sky. Everyone else was
asleep. I thought for a second
about how they call each level a story, and then, thinking that each
floor is a sort of tale, decided that I liked the designation
“story.” I would have liked for the night to be feral with a rain
that came sideways across the glass. Or silent and humid-looking as
in the middle of a sacrosanct July night. But it was overcast and a
bit noisy, which was regular, which was prosaic. Which was the world
more often than not.
was the emerald, though. The bric-a-brac and kitsch builders had made
these lights. But, like the glow lights in the circus when I was a
kid, or like the plastic bottles of sun tan lotion in the
sub-tropical corner shops by piers, I loved them. It was as though
the lights, which sometimes blinked, held some secret. I sat, and
watched, and waited. Sometimes I glanced the other way, to the left,
and looked at the big electrical wheel in the sky. That was more
literary, more cinematic, and more mythical, as the wheel could and
surely did symbolize everything from fortune to kismet and karma and
the dharma and back again. But I preferred the emerald.
would be a long silence, and then the cold air return system of the
building would click on, and a breeze would suddenly begin to pump
from a vent in the wall. This was loud in the daylight hours, but
during the witching hour, since it erupted out of quietude, the
return was a startling phenomenon. People would rouse and then go
back to their dreams. I had the thought that the building was alive,
and I loved this notion. This breath, which was the true meaning of
spirit, that the building let out, was akin to an invitation to the
unknown, to some Gnostic or esoteric mystery and good madness.
in hours, the sun finally began to announce itself on the skyline.
There was a man each morning who rolled up his pants and hopped
unceremoniously into a pond by the bottom of the emerald lights. It
was a wishing pond. He walked slowly and deliberately while picking
up the change that others had thrown in the water. When he had gotten
enough he went out, put his socks and shoes back on. He had stolen
other people’s wishes. Like
a drop of color joining the rest of the painting, he disappeared into
the morning crowd.
was always about then that the emerald lights, the color of the heart
chakra, went off. Green is the color of love, they say.
was about then, also, that I began my day. I would mosey through the
town to do this or that, and end up holding doors, or letting others
in line. I would help people who needed it, even in small ways. My
friend was more ambitious, secular, and worldly. She could hardly
stand it at times.
the brotherhood of man habit,
she would caution, it only holds
I found it hard. It was taxing to join the world. I lacked the thirst
for success and would probably never get ahead.
I liked the lights. I thought sometimes in the day how they would
come in the night again. They were a beacon or a shield against the
lurid gray of thought itself.
were something. And if not love at least they were the color of such.
Brian Michael Barbeito
05 14 16