First night of spring and the downstairs neighbor knocks on my door. Can’t sleep, he tells me and I ask why. ”When I was eleven, or maybe twelve,” he says, and I think here we go and boil some water for tea.
“How long ago was that?” I ask him.
“1924,” he says. ”I took the train alone that year for the first time. Marseille-Lyon-Paris.”
He tells me that he didn’t know why he took it, but that he did. It isn’t that he didn’t remember why he took it, he tells me, but just at the time, he decided he was good and ready to take the train.
“When I got here, I went walking,” he says, “over to the theater.”
I pour the water over some herbs from the window sill.
“But the gate surrounding it was tall and it was night and everything was closed. No one was on the street so I tried to climb right on over.” he tells me and then stops. He traces old blistered fingers on my table. Either the wood catches his skin or the inverse, neither are smooth. His eyes narrow.
“The gate was sharp,” he tells me, “the top of it. I got one leg over fine,” he says, “to the other side.” I pour him a cup. ”And the other got caught, stabbed right through my pants.
Arrowhead,” he says.
Flipped him right over, he tells me. And there he was, suspended, upside down facing the lights of the city as the night fell deep, the scent of the tree above, a distant radio from the corner shop, and far off, dice players, he assumed are in uniform, speaking arabic.
“It was 85 years ago,” he tells me, “and I still know who won,” as he sips his tea.