Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I saw this morning

3:20AM, Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.

The last streetcar rolls through the night along the neutral ground that separates inbound and outbound automobile traffic.  The car is brightly lit, its windows open to the breeze.  Every well worn, wooden seat is full with people either stoically sitting bolt upright, leaning together in tight, animated conversation, or nodding in the half dreams of the contentedly exhausted.  The headlight illuminates the grass as the wheels grate the rails.  The muffled sound of transit passes along the street, approaching and receding, moving.  Friday seeps into Saturday. Next car: one hour.

Taxi cabs inch along the pavement trawling for passengers lost and in search of a drive train.  Pedestrians walk the sidewalk, to and fro, woozy and enchanted in the early summer, pre-dawn humidity.  Seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit and balmy, the air is still save the intermittent chatter of cicadas and humanity.  Streetlights and neon dim all but the brightest stars that persist in punctuating the night sky.

Ice cubes sparkle and clink after three AM, bright spots of crystal in a warm gloom.  Talk winds down as some sleepy heads head bedways along elliptical routes.  A few stalwarts order another round as they wait for the next street car home.  The New Orleans night is quieter, not still, still not yet asleep.  The pulse has slowed, the murmur subsided but still going.  The night keeps flowing till daybreak and then it will quicken anew.

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