This morning in front of your apartment on the day before your wedding, feral children do back-flips across the dirty mattress you’ve junked at the curb. They kick into the air, heels over heads, only to crash and bounce away with the creaking of familiar springs. You watch them from your balcony on the second floor, stirring a Bloody Mary with your finger, remembering that mattress and how you humped it for years all over town, flopping it to the floor of those rented rooms where you’ve known the women you’ve known.
This afternoon at the bar you’ll sit on a torn barstool bathed in the swirling, dust-moted sunbeam that falls through door’s window, making a last supper of seventy-five-cent drafts and a greasy pulled-pork sandwich as you tend the chemical fire in your gut and wonder about your future with her. Love aside, you’ll drink the beer, pick at the sandwich, and try not to settle on the idea that you’re asking too much of yourself.
Come evening you’ll get a six to go, sipping the beers as you continue to contribute to the summer’s unrest by throwing fireworks from your apartment window and down to the street, scattering roaming packs of kids like gravel. You’ll blow up every last Black Cat and Lady Finger you have, knowing that once you leave this place, they’ll stone these windows wide open and you’ll be the one to blame.
Later, you’ll turn off all the lights, pull up the shades and strip out of your clothes. Crank the Alice Cooper then slip on that tux again just to make sure. You’ll wear it onto the balcony and drink beer among the potted plants, the dead fern and the pointed mother-in-law’s tongue. You’ll sit on the folding chair, feet up on the railing, watching the junk cars come and go from the crack house on the corner.
Around midnight you’ll unplug the phone and wish you could prong a hanger between your shoulder blades and step fully-tuxed into the closet. Wouldn’t they come for you eventually, the best of men, your friends sure as gravity in their own dark suits? By then you’ll see the shape of the storm: the gauzy white mist, a hail of rice and baby’s breath.
In the end you’ll find yourself stretched out on the floor on top of your sleeping bag, surrounded by your life in boxes as you watch the usual sirens bleed red-blue trouble across your apartment’s sweaty ceiling. Just before dawn you’ll catch the dopplering moan of an a.m. train that sounds exactly like the one keeping you and a lost love awake in a different city years ago. Unsettled and naked, you’ll say a name out loud in the dark then rise to take inventory:
Being of sound mind and disposing memory, I will awaken one night soon inside another life, listening to two cats pad down the hallways of a new apartment in a better part of town, my job’s suit and shoes waiting for the alarm that summons me to rise and fill them. I hereby declare that acting without duress or undue influence during this moment, I will consider old longings as they writhe through my mind, then drift away upon the understanding that henceforth there will be moonlight leaking through the bedroom blinds and a warm wind on my wife’s skin, a baby growing within her, and in as much as I can devise and bequeath my past to its trustees, I shall make, publish, and swear this document to be my Last Will and Testament, thereby revoking any and all others.