Squatting like an animal on a concrete curb feeding on a quesadilla below the yellow windows on blue dusk of Grandma’s Southside in the San Francisco Mission, I feel the same wonder at her power to inform the night as I did as a kid lying awake in her bed across the street from the Greek carnival as it raced and roared like a remembered dream under the weight of the atmosphere and a gentle incessant breath of summer floated the sheer curtain of her window. I walked below the green of black leaves in the new dark along a chain link fence with my shadow leaping from streetlight to streetlight to the sounds of glass breaking and the perennial siren that’s defined this night from West Side Story to the Southside of Cleveland to the south side of Brooklyn to here, remembering a deep purple 9 PM of Cleveland summer in which I crossed the Abbey Bridge in the motionless front-porch dark and passed the silent houses of West 11th, beneath silhouetted unrustling sycamore leaves, on streets where my father played as a kid with friends and cousins after dark in this same night fifty years before, and I climbed the close hot staircase to the hot kitchen of an old house where I was shacked up at age nineteen and stood ironing a shirt at an ironing board with Louie Armstrong playing on a radio in the other room, the first I knew that I was a part of an older night—a window in a window—that this kitchen with me in it was part of an old ongoing night, always fresh and always soiled, early, late, and I’m grateful for the moments I’m given to take part in it, walking home thirty pounds heavier with shirt untucked on a warm San Francisco night.
Michael DeCapite was born in Cleveland in 1962. Through The Windshield was written in Cleveland, London, and New York 1985-1990 and subsequently revised. His short story Sitting Pretty is now available from CUZ Editions. DeCapite is currently completing a second novel RUINED FOR LIFE! and is regular contributor to ANGLE Magazine.