Monday 30 June 2014

A Man, Or a Diamond

By June Glasgow

More often than not, he dances without changing. Sometimes he changes places. There are never spotlights. There is no spotlight. In a corner of a mall. Seven nights a week. The man dances.
Without thinking if he has ever fathered a son or daughter. He sleeps. Or whether another woman has died for him. If he is lucky. Sometimes a woman would blow him for free. He is blue one day. Another day he is gay.
He does not put on a mask each day to face what comes. Only a hat. And he takes a piss behind any shrub he finds. He dances and he does not think why he dances. The man dances for nothing. Dancing cannot heal a man.
He puts on his hat and leaves wherever he is. And he puts his arms up to stretch. What is God, he thinks. Or stupidity. Or fate. Another kind of charm. Serendipity. The man dances as freedom dances on emancipated prisoners’ faces. When he remembers the past, he dances the past away.
The morning is a syrup smell. He walks in search of cigarette butts. He is in one piece. He has not lost anything. He is lucky if it did not rain the night before. The man dances on mornings of winter when he wakes up in parks.
He even forgets the ocean is mostly never blue. Never the smell of the ocean. Or the smell of seamen. Cunts. Fallen leaves. Wild wind. Cat piss. There is nothing like the smell of winter in open parks.
He hangs around the city. Now he does not remember the smell of the ocean. But that was many years ago. He took to dancing. He decided to leave his job because the ocean was overfished. He danced as a fisherman. He thought he’d drown himself one day at four o’clock in the morning. He worked as a fisherman. He has been to the ocean and heard its churns. He dances like a captain.
When he stops, he contemplates a suicide he witnessed two years ago. He thought the woman gave him luck. He got more money than ever. He danced that night in the mall. He was not sad. The man danced in mourning for another loss of life. Her hair dark. Her neck was broken. The woman wore no make-up, was ugly without it, dead. A woman jumping off the roof two blocks down china-town. It was nothing special.
The man dances. He always does.
It hasn’t rained for days. His suit stinks. They get washed when it rains. He hunts with coins in his pockets. He thinks he is a snake that is condemned to dancing. He has not seen into a mirror for three months. He has not brushed his teeth. The man has bare feet.
As summer warms up the city lights, he strips off his shoes. He gives them to a friend. A bum that lives down an alley in china-town. The bum dances like an old Indian. The two men dance like a humans without shoes. They both danced together once. The performance was good. They earned money and left. As men, they dance to this day. But on separate plains.
The man who dances only dances at night. Only at night. He forgets his friends who dance also someplace. Drawing the eyes of a woman, or a cat. He would like to straighten is shirt and comb his hair with spit. He dances while his shirt is stained. He thinks he is dreaming. The mind is psychedelic like dreams. When he dances, he hardly thinks.
He thinks life is good. He thinks his life is stable enough. Sometimes on trains in early mornings. Often in dark corners. He tugs at his cock when he pleases. He does not need a stable woman. Or poison. He does not need a good woman. Old time blessing. Something down his blood. Enough.
So he will keep dancing. He thinks there is a purpose to his dancing. He thinks he believes in God. Sometimes he contemplates religion. He sometimes skips dancing even though he never gets sore. He picks up cigarette butts off where he finds them. If they are dry, he’d light them if he has a match or a lighter.
He dances, tugging his hat low. Here and there someone recognizes him. They nod and grin. He nods and grins. Sometimes they skip the grinning. He grins back anyway.
A woman once gives him her phone number. It is raining outside. He calls her in a telephone booth. He calls when he finishes his performance in the mall. The booth is warm. The clouds are dense. He calls and she never picks up. He tosses the paper with her number on it into a bin and walks on down the streets. He does not whistle. He flies his hat into the air. His hair stinks. The rain washes him clean. He is a dog in the rain. Everybody has gone somewhere. He dances alone. Or he dances with his shoes. His shoes his partners, he dances with them.
Sometimes he smokes when he dances. People still give him the money. He smokes as much as he can. He wishes they’d give him money for just smoking. People toss coins into his hat and looks away when he flashes his tattered yellow teeth with smoke stains to return something they forget they gave. He dances free jazz and jams samba. He dances psychedelic. He dances all shapes. He shifts his legs and makes circles with his feet. An Egyptian man. Almost.
The man dances good. He dances in colors he does not know he sees.
The women that play violins on weekends near the Lutheran church recognize him. One of them spreads her legs for him in public toilets. The grime is not too much for her. He likes her long hair down. She has no beliefs. The church is tall. Sometimes she spreads her legs in the alley to the back of the church. He fucks her very good and leaves her. He goes dancing with her at the far back of his mind.
He hasn’t touched anything for years. The police don’t touch him because they know he is clean. They never catch him doing it. He would piss on the walls if he needs. He would do the same for nothing or for everything. Whirling in and out of other people’s jealousies, unrealized ambitions. On streets of black sewers, green plants, twisted cans, the man dances like a soldier in the snow.
Two years ago, he danced for a woman in a mall like this. Now there is none of that. Two years is not a long time but it is enough for a man to stop dancing for love. A woman is trouble. There is only safety from troubles when one stays the distance. A man can swim in a river. But he has to keep going or he will sink. The man thinks like this.
The women would close their doors for a man like him. His nerves are calm. His fingers twitch like nerves. There is ecstasy in his moves. He dances like a Pygmy. He dances at times like a woman. He was born in Chile. Down near his throat, he cannot feel his sweat.
The man dances as a woman passes. The maids, the rich old lechers, the young wenches that expose their bodies all pass as the man dances. The woman who passes passes as all the others have passed. His hat is upside-down in front of him. The ground is clean. Relatively. A girl drinks hot coffee at the table closest to him. Her eyes droopy. Her legs long and covered in silk stockings. Her legs crossed like creeks. Black. Crossing creeks. The man dances. He does not have an erection but he thinks he might soon if he keeps looking. Another woman passes. They all pass, are fleeting.
He never whistles to start a song. He only waits for the music to start at the far back of his mind. There is no ocean that is close enough for him to hear it. He is dancing where the crowd does not gather. The night is Friday. The wind is black. The mall is thick with the morning smell.
Money is less important. But here he dances. With poison in his blood. What he doesn’t want. He takes it. Coins. Women. A woman comes to him to give him some money. She passes, is fleeting.
He cannot speak. There is no music. A deaf man. Mute. At least not blind. Can still smell and taste things. The night is made of ocean and the surfaces between what the man can see and cannot. The world is open. His left lid twitches. A good omen.
The man dances on.

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