Headlights through a Broken Window

A thousand pounds of smog descended upon the city.
Frank Barboni looked up at the oily sky and frowned. This was not going to be a good day. Focusing now on his cart, he felt grounded by the vibration of the sidewalk under its old but well oiled wheels. The rythmic tap as the wheels hit each break in the sidewalk was almost hypnotising, and Frank felt himself drifting away again. Like a dirty street, his greying moustache swept his nose and brought on another sneeze. This interruption of breathing returned him to the busy sidewalk and made him think of the smog again. Gripping tightly, he prepared to wheel the cart down a ramp and across 15th street. Slowly. Easy. A loud warning from the horn of a cherry red Pontiac froze him midway between worlds. One foot on the civil sidewalk, and one wheel in the anthill chaos of the busy city street. More cautiously, this time, Frank began to descend the ramp and cross.
Safely on the other side, he snatched the dusty houndstooth cap from his head and wiped his forehead with the back of an oily hand. Overhead, the El rained dust from its rusty track  scattering Pigeons in its wake. The noise was distant, he thought, as if heard through the heat register of an old house. A smell came through that same vent. A faded smell of spring flowers. No, cherry flavored ices and metallic hydrant water. Now both. Yearning for more, Frank unconciously shifted up to his tiptoes, like a kid with no ticket peering over the fence for a glimpse of the ball game. No ticket. He had no ticket, and now the laughter and freshly mowed grass was began to fade into a harsh gray sun.  A drop of pigeon shit had started to congeal on his shoulder, and Frank quickly wiped it away with the grease-stained red bandana from his back pocket. Looking down the street, Frank saw old tenements and broken neon signs straining against thier mute. This was his future too. And with that thought, Frank took his first step forward, and his bones rattled inside like cartwheels on a pockmarked sidewalk.

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