We parked, as usual, by the power station in the block below the bridge and walked in the street, navigating the old stone pavers rather than the concrete sidewalk, down to the bar. The fog rolled off the river, clawing across these lowlands and toward the center of the island, making it impossible to know that anything had deeply changed since 1750 or so. In Jeremy's the Brooklyn Brown Ale came in the 48 ounce styrofoam cups and Mary, who had never been here, was just off the plane from Shannon after all, said, "the beer comes in that?" Yes. It does. The Mets game was on the TV, late from the west coast. It had rained earlier and with the fog the wood of the narrow deck was faintly swollen and smelled of the earth, a bit like a dog's damp paw after a run in a forest.
We sat and stared at the street and kept drinking. Max came down from the last cheap apartment in the area and assured us we weren't driving anywhere else that night, that we looked like we'd have enough trouble getting across his living room – and we had to remember that his ancient wooden building was slipping into the eighteenth century landfill that had pushed this part of Manhattan out into the tidal straight causing his floor to slope at a radical angle.
At 3:30 we finally walked out. You could only see lights as they bounced off the water vapor that surrounded us. Max tripped on the wet paving stones and fell face first but got up without complaint. Mary held onto me, which was as pleasant as it was foolish. Colin screamed Gregory Corso's poetry into the night.
We all fell asleep on Max's floor. Some Irish-Caribbean fusion CD playing a touch too loudly. At 5:30 I had to get up and turn around. The blood was rushing to my head.
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol
painting Peck Slip, 4 a.m. by Naima Rauam copyright by the artist