The last of the dinner guests had just slipped out into the gathering dusk. I had taken for myself permission for one more scotch before retiring. It wasn’t cool yet I pulled a thin blanket up to my chin. Fleeting thoughts of the difficult afternoon were quickly dismissed. Still before long I was resting in the back seat of a cab. In the semi darkness I sensed more than saw that Mick was with me. Toward midtown the buildings rose higher and the streets grew animated. It was time last big series of the year just then and Boston and Baltimore were in a lather.
Up on the left I could begin to see a colossus emerge from the cityscape. In the few times I paid it any mind St Jude’s always stuck me like a rock cliff, tall, shimmering and punched through with glowing holes that said “we are busy in here” or maybe “we are watching in sadness”. Tonight I could feel steam – or was it a bit of fog – clinging there on stones and parapets. Down on the street the shadows engulfed the crowds as they slowly oozed past the walls. Not rushing, not dawdling, their seemed a sense of collective anticipation but few were tipping their hand.
The cab slowed then stopped near that spot and, with the window rolled down, we greeted Grif, Mike, Mike Monaghan and even little Ludwig. They were well established curbside and, in posture and dress, exuded the casual confidence some seek to be recognized by at restless moments in their lives. Words and smiles and confidences were exchanged. I opened the door, touched the foot to the pavement but never exited the crushed velvet seat. Mick, to my left would contribute to the nightalk too but mostly I could feel his silent nodding but also his reluctance to be fully distracted from our purpose.
Me, I thought distraction was fine. It was the big series, the crowd was restless and had we not polished our shoes and tied perfect neckties? The cologne was in the air and we each were posed in a scene that, try as they might, a skilled painter would struggle to capture the unsaid. At a point, almost without signal, the cabbie slipped the car into gear. The rear door closed with finality and through the open window parting cheers were offered. At the next corner the meter topped one hundred. Mick stood by as I peeled off the bills plus a good tip. Was I impressed more by the sum or by the recognition that I could pay? As the black wheels pulled the car into the night I saw Little Ludwig once more. We stood on the edge of the curb, our felt hats turning gently in our hands. He nodded ever so slightly, then, without malice, looked back at that waiting, towering rock wall.