Dec 8, 2009

The last suite

The dust wasn't good for the cello. The cold wasn't either. The strings were slightly harsh, reverbing sharp, and the wood face was coated with the dust that was concrete and ash and still falling like dandruff on the city.

Carlton played and watched the people go by in parades. They had hard hats and coveralls and those little painters' masks hanging from strings around their necks. They were white with the dust. Baptized in it. It covered them like a fur, a thin and prickly fur, except for where their sweat had made streaks and swirls, and their hair was white, their faces like flour, their hands and arms, their coveralls and the tools they had, everything except their eyes where they blinked the dust the away was covered with a coat of the cremation. He played as they went by, bent over, played for the parade of slow and crippled men. He played, Bach and Bach and then the Beatles, and no one looked up and they kept coming, covered and trudging out of the financial district at night and it wasn't enough, wasn't enough, and no one looked up and Carlton just played until dark and cried.

He was going there again on the next day, feeling the dust in his skin even though he had showered again. He was working his way down into the city past where the subway now stopped, wearing his suit and America-flag tie with his cello strapped on his back when he saw the paper with the Saudi son's face, smiling and bearded.

The next day he signed up with the Marines.