They spill out like grain from a silo, tumbling across the ground with a cacophony of yells. This is man in his primal state, unrestricted by the niceties of society. I watch them from my dark tower, my cat a grey shadow at my side; she is like a goblin, her eyes hungry for the violence to come. The men are indistinct in the darkness, merely abstract, shirtless forms that howl and bellow. They are arguing about violence; one hit another, and the fight spilled out into the driveway, the courtyard of my grand tower.
Like a gargoyle, I watch and listen apathetically, detached from human emotion. Beer cans hit the ground and sound like bronze statues being pulled to the ground and shattering: The Thinker’s brains spill out on the driveway with a fizzing wetness. “Bud! Bud light!” yell the men in the darkness amidst accusations.
“You knocked out my cousin!” shouts one.
“He deserves it!” shouts another.
“I thought we were too old for this kind of shit,” says another one with a weary tone. The dogs begin to bark, and the woman begin to shout; for a moment I know what Death feels like when he haunts a battlefield. Amidst the confusion and tussling, I see a lanky, shirtless, tattooed body. He rushes to enter the fray like a modern day Cuchulain, except that he fights for no land but his own body, and no creed but his own ego. His cousin stops him from turning inside out by standing in front of him. His cousin doesn’t know that you need to dump him into a cauldron of water to stymie his battle rage.
The violence abates suddenly, and the yelling subsides, and then rises again. It is like a symphony! It is like the ocean! It has a terrible, pathetic beauty. Across the world, Iranians laugh until their eyes water, and then walk away from protests, saying, “I’ll be back after I compose myself.” I feel a Ghost Dance shimmer through my body. I want to stomp a foot, and raise the dead. They would laugh and cry, and maybe they would teach their descendants how to be better people.
Having run off some one or ones, the mass of men, women, and animals meander back indoors.
“The cops will be here soon.” I can hear them say. The cops arrive, but it is too late. They didn’t see the violence, hear the clattering of beer cans, or feel the veneer of civility peel away. When the police leave, there is a blissful silence that is like the tiny suspension between breaths. I feel the world sink back into itself, its tension released.
Then there is a rumble.
And it becomes louder.
A Negro, descended from a noble race with a rich culture and heritage yammers on about the violence he wants to perpetrate set to a heavy bass beat. The one that was run off has returned, and he brought his stereo with him. I hold my forehead between my thumb and forefinger and sigh. I wonder if there will be gunshots, but the only shots that are fired are verbal.
“You pussy!” he shouts.
My cat takes no offense, closing her eyes and opening them slowly, as though she was saying “How droll!”
I smell the scent of incense coming from the hallway of the apartment complex that is my tower. I descend and find a stick of incense burning on the stairs. I know it was meant to cover the smell of pot, but I imagine that it was put there to keep evil spirits away. I extinguish the incense with my moistened thumb and forefinger and quash any remains with my heel. The evil spirits are here, and incense won’t drive them out.
I return home, imagining it a separate place from the rest of the world. In the darkness, I brood, then I sit within the room within my tower, and I listen to my own breath. In the tiny suspensions between breaths, I sink back within myself. I hear my ancestors say, “Tell us a story,” and this is the story I tell them.