Center City at 2am


Curling golden brown leaves rustle damply in the cold wind, as we plod the wet amberlit pavement over last week’s newspaper and empty burger wrappings. Shadows dance in the periphery, fooling the eye with movement in the brisk chill breeze, and our collars are turned up against the frigid light mist falling. The sounds of rushing trucks on Ninetyfive below never cease, and we remember many years of sharing the late night interstate thruway with so many truckers so long ago.

Lights blink as we make our way past angled metal sculpture, iron railings, closed shops and bars, a few pubs rebelliously open at the late hour, coaxing the half-sleeping occupants to yell one more time over one more beer. One of us lumbers over a sheet iron sidewalk cover and it clatters with a hollow ring. Hands shoved deep into pockets we glance around bemusedly, minds even deeper in thought. It has been a weekend of change and permanence, ‘now’ turning to ‘then’ with finality. How much more valuable than diamond encrusted…diamonds, these thirty years of memories I chew over while inhaling the moist pungency of alleys and aerosols.

The illumination neon paints South Street shining coldly and wetly, as a few cars pass going way too fast. In silence, while we enjoy the 18th century architecture and its modern accompaniments in the hiss of a light shower, my love for this city rekindles.


Through my foggy passenger window, to an inky backdrop, the bridge soars above us, studded in lights. It’s monolithic towers and cable stride quickly behind us as we thread down into the maze of lanes and concrete tunnels lit dull orange.  When the car is expelled from the guts of thruway, we emerge into the foggy, damp, center of a glorious human-hewn canyon, a mega ghost town.

The sidewalks are empty, dormantly soaking in a sheen of mist in the imperfect darkness. A sustained woosh of sound, like one long and continuous peal of faraway thunder, seems to signify the steady buzz of life as the towers sleep. My head cannot stop swiveling and rocking, as I try in vain to download and store this magical moment, this four dimensional dream of surreal sensation.

Strolling the square of squares, remembering more and more as the familiarity roars back from decades past, my head panics that its sensory bandwidth is inadequate to grasp the enormity and sentiment of this moment. As emotions swell and I am silently thankful and euphoric for this chance moment in time, my love for this city ignites with a popping thud inside my heart, as if the pilot light of my memory has just touched off a gas coil in my soul.


When my feet leap to clear the last tread, and are met with stone tile courtyard at the summit of “The Steps”, heart pounding in exhilaration and remembrance, my love for this city explodes like hydrogen bombs. The lights twinkle back their agreement, as fog hides the pointed spires of ‘my’ skyline.

Tonight, this pre-dawn morning, will be with me forever. With its memory also swells a four (or five) strong corded love of we brothers, timelessly solidified in each raindrop cascading from the rafters of this brotherlove city.




Several hours later, we laid Uncle John to rest, temporarily.
It is Well. -DD

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