Daniel M. Cruse
In the evening, with the sun light tinted dusty and orange from the smog, I stepped off the bus and headed for her place. I knocked on her green apartment door and waited, tracing the tarnished brass numbers with my fingers. She cracked the door open, the inside of her apartment black. Peeking her head out, she smiled at me with a strange angular look but didn’t say anything.
“Can I come in?”
She shut the door and I just stood there.
“I’m busy…” the door muffled her voice. “…meet after work tonight.”
“What the hell?”
“Don’t be mad, I’m busy.”
I knocked once, “fuck it.” Then headed for the stairs.
On the way home the bus smelled like burnt polyester and coffee. An old man, bald on the top with long scraggly grey hair dangling from his scalp, fidgeted incessantly. Fingerprints and permanent marks smudged and streaked the windows so the passing world became blurred bathroom stalls. The graffiti blocked my vision and made the city a little brighter, a bit more obscured. Neon white and sepia light ebbed around the graffiti casting undefinable shadows. My t-shirt stuck against my sweaty skin. The bus passed the wall that we had tagged. Through the graffiti filtered windows I could the paint glowing.
I got off at the next stop. Walking down the sidewalk staring at the cracked concrete, I wanted to know. I wanted to know something. Maybe there was more to this world? Celeste knew. She knew something that couldn’t be learned in any temple, taught in any class, written in any book. Above me, the moon berthed in the sky, swollen and bright: life giving in its nascent brightness. No clouds in the sky. A desert. L. A. never looked dark. The lights from streets, cars and buildings created a perpetual gloaming, but that night the sun didn’t set. Somehow she could take all that beauty and put it in a cup to drink. I stopped. Our phosphorescent city art limned me. The longer I focused on it, the brighter it became, until, the only thing I could see was the tag. Swirls and swirls of uninhibited vandalism. I could explode.
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I graduated from the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing program. I like dinosaurs, thunderstorms and other things.
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