Walking, if that’s what one would call it, was what he liked to do most when he was drunk. The animated chattering and amorous canoodling of the tavern culture carried much charm, but it was his walk to his flat, after his snoot was full, that gave him the most sublime joy. The magic in the bottle seemed unfailing; it numbed his aching, prematurely aged joints, and at the same time, provided air soles to his shabby shoes. Sidewalks became trampolines, curbs turned to starting blocks that would launch him into an intersection as if he were spring loaded. The restrictive grid of the city turned curvy and forgiving, very forgiving, with walls like billiard cushions, and soft green parkways like table felts. The world moved then too, but faster than his vision, which was on a slow watercolor delay. If it was windy he could push back against the breeze with his hands and the baggy arms of his greasy overcoat. If it was rainy his feet would become an entire percussion section. Often he’d sing along the way, his gait, propelling the rhythm as he seemingly traversed among the clouds. The cacophony of sounds were his arrangement, and yet he was generous in sharing its majesty, a remnant of an aria, a stomp, with the occasional passerby. There was no straining of the vocal chords, no pain at all. Odes to joy along the wet nighttime streets.
It was walking that was his favorite thing to do when he was drunk.
King’s Club King’s Club! Ain’t a king no more, don’t wanna be. Wish I’d known before.
The words repeated over again in his head and in sinc with his steps. He was marching away, for good this time but no one knew. To the coast, all the way west this time, not just to the Badlands and back, but all the way. L.A. Airsoles might be heavy out there but they sure add bounce to his trip over here, on the colder, harder pavement. Bricks bricks bricks he’d miss them, the color changing bricks that are everywhere here. Gold to red to purple to blue, morning to night and then sometimes neon-kissed under the club marquees. Alien bricks or at least garish immigrants among their cousins. There were still old street lamps in this neighborhood, the city was late to change anything around here, and the golden glow above, a hundred dying suns, would be missing out there, replaced by a boozy, sinking disc seen against the smog’s dirty screen. He’d buy a pair of swim trunks – everyone swam in cut-off’s here, and maybe a Vespa to glide the few blocks to the beach. Perhaps later, a big hog, or a Bel-Air with a rag top to head up and down the PCH. Up to San Fran and down to Tijuana. Ain’t a king no more, and nobody knew. How could he tell them. How could they understand. Anything different scared them. A hundred black leather greasers lined up against the alley walls around here, all watching the world go by. And now he’s going by. Bye. Past the corner and across the gas station lot, through the prairie yard over the viaduct, past the water tower and the guy with the gun, under the fire escape jungle and down the gangway. To the depot.
Wish I’d known before, wish I’d known before, the depth of the shame and the sadness, the opening that next morning and the promise of reckoning, sunlight, and escape.
King’s Club King’s Club! Ain’t a king no more and don’t wanna be.