The city never sleeps. They say this of any city in the world. And that may be true enough but sometimes in the middle of the night its pulse slows and one can feel the quiet, taste the calm as that of a coming dream.
Take this black and white print, for example: on a clear night, a full moon shines brightly above the line of high-rises and down into their black canyons. The moon is not particular what, or who, it disturbs or reveals and tonight it chooses to expose the brown facades of imitation brick siding on a line of low rental apartments. By the street below one of these four and five floor buildings a lone bystander sits on a bus stop bench and his glance moves up slowly floor by floor. In every window the full moon’s face looks back down at him, neither smiling nor frowning. As much as he longs for it, there is no pity in that look, nor sign of any compassion. It’s just the moon; a mindless full moon shining down upon an equally mindless town.
Had you been there–but who in his right mind wanders around town at two in the morning in the middle of March with an icy eastern breeze whispering a dead man’s lullaby under a full moon?–you would have seen the bus-stop stranger, now a black shadow of a man, stop his wandering gaze and focus upon one particular window.
A flickering light plays upon gauze curtains pulled across that window. He stares and a moment, then three, pass silently. The finely etched shadow of a bare oak branch slides over the curtains and slowly slithers down the side of the building, scraping noiselessly against the sidings’ rough texture.
A semi-transparent human-shaped shadow brushes against the gauze curtains, disappears, then reappears, floats half-way across and stops. Several moments go by, everything standing still but the moon which is now directly above a distant high-rise, like a bright white gas light surmounting its pole. The gauze curtains part hesitantly in the middle. The partly revealed human shadow stands on one side of the window while the light from the moon shines on dark manicured finger nails and long slender fingers. Even more slowly the curtain is pulled further back by a white slim hand and there, faithfully described by the moon’s soft white light, a woman’s face gazes down as if sightless in the general direction of the bus stop bench and the dark stranger.
At that moment, the patiently waiting stranger stands and deliberately, as if with great effort, brings his gaze down to the street, waits a moment or two as if weighing possibilities then turns away without a sound, a black silhouette disappearing soundlessly in the lengthening shadows of an almost spent night and a fading moon.
The curtains close again, gently coming together as at the end of a play. No encore is called for.