Rat Line

There is a visceral difference in the sound between rain as it drops through a forest canopy and falls unencumbered in a city street. Neither are softer, nor gentler in the landing.

This afternoon, I squat in a back alley off the main drag of this city, covered with a water-logged piece of cardboard, writing this. Yes, I’m a journaling man – have been most of my life.

Tucked against the red bricks, a slight eve shelters me as I put a pencil stub to paper. Any paper will do and I am more than happy to have what yellow pencil in hand to squeeze between my fingers.

My muse is a tease, my slave driver, my lover, coming at all inappropriate and inopportune times. Still I welcome her, my only companion in otherwise difficult times.

However, no one wants soggy words from a vagabond, drifter, tramp, hobo, bum, drunk, homeless person or whatever the nom de jour is this hour. I call myself a writer, chronicling the sights, sounds, feelings of life around me, but then who am I, a nameless, faceless, worthless man.

A trio of rats have popped up out of the sewer; they scurry and scamper towards the street. Few will notices them, as they notice me, refusing to believe they exist in their fair city.

They’re heading north, towards the university. I am going that direction as well, my broken-down piece of cardboard discarded where I struggle with cold fingers to fold away my piece of prose until a better time.

Higher ground – the water is rising – the rats tell me so and all I can do is follow. Goodnight, my beloved muse, goodnight.


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