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the lost years

I spent almost 25 years living alone in New York. There might be a moment on a shoot, when it became clear we would be running late. Phones were slid from pockets, as the crew had hushed conversations with their loved ones. That solemn, apologetic tone was the same no matter who was talking as they answered the question "When will you be home?" I had no one, nothing but an empty apartment and some dirty dishes. I had half-written books, and guitars leaning against the walls. There was film in the cameras, waiting to be developed.

I have almost no memory of these years now.

Right now, V is sick. Nothing terrible, but enough to stay home and parade around the apartment in her favorite pyjamas. N is cooking various treats for her, unable to predict which one she will actually eat. The doorbell rings, and it might be a doctor visiting from the local clinic but it is her sister. The rooms are full of conversation and fresh cups of coffee. I try not to step on the toys that are a…

I love you, baby

Late in the afternoon I ask N if she wants to take a walk. She looks up at me, staring for a moment.
"Ok." She answers.
E skips into the kitchen.
"Get dressed." I tell her.
"Why?" She asks.
"We're going to get an ice cream." I tell her.
She bursts into the living room to change, pulling on red leggings and tall socks, a white skirt. She looks like an odd doll. 

We walk in the street, E holding one of my hands, N's arm curled in my other. The city is quiet. Handfuls of men stand in circles on the sidewalk, boasting, drinking from plastic cups, smoking cigarettes. We cross the bridge that stretches across the river. It is littered with broken glass. 

At a perehod (underpass) the florescent lights are flickering as we go down the stairs. A young man and woman wear sunglasses in the darkness, speaking in loud voices with their hands draped over each other's shoulders. As we get closer to them I see she is crying. He speaks in loud bursts. I cannot follow  the words. E looks up at me and I pull her hand to walk closer.
As we reach the bright end of the passage, I hear the girl call out in English, over-pronouncing the words with a thick sarcasm.
"I love you, baybbeeeeeeeeee." She calls to him.
Back in the street and the half-sun I ask N what they were talking about.
"She was telling him that she is pregnant and he was angry." She explains, loud enough for me to hear but so that E will not. "He said she did not protect her stomach." 


There is a line out the door and we wait. E cranes her neck, deciding what flavor she will get. A man approaches us, almost stepping on my toes. He is drunk, unwashed, unshaved, asking for money. I look into his bloodshot eyes as I shake my head no.
The line inches forwards.
Somehow we find a table, and E spoons into her masterpiece. N makes a steady series of perfect bites.
A woman in a long overcoat wanders in and goes from table to table. She says she has a sick child and that she needs money.
No one gives her anything.
A man and woman make their way to the table next to us. They have giant backpacks they rest on the chairs. His has an object strapped to the side, wrapped in layers of yellow plastic and then with tape. I see it is a gun, something automatic. I turn to N. She shrugs her shoulders.
"It could be a paint gun." She says. "For those games."
I think for  a moment, wondering how this could be possible, but the longer I look at it the more I think it is real. At the same time, E drops her spoon in the cup and surrenders.
"I can't eat any more." She mumbles to us.
We dress quickly and I sense the gun wrapped in plastic just inches from us, even as I am throwing the half-full cup in the trashcan.

On the way home the wind picks up a little. I still walk in the middle, holding their hands keeping our fingers warm.






Comments

Thanks for the images Marcos.
Guiche
Ah yes,the guns. One went off in her womb and the other sits menacing in plastic. We have people here who want to wear them in public like badges. They think they will have old west style shootouts for glory and rightness. Women and children will be hurt. Men will be killed.

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