Night Singing

William Doreski

The hum of Times Square woke me before I’d finished my dream. The cheap hotel stank of sweaty feet and empty sex. I’d dreamt of stalking someone or something through a bog, tripping through hanks of saplings, every footstep heavy with muck. Before I caught up with him, her, or it, a thud in the next room broke into my sleep, and I snapped on the bedside lamp. The dingy silver-striped wallpaper sneered in the harsh glare. No further noise. Someone had fallen out of bed and apparently still lay on the floor. Good enough. He’d have a hell of a headache in the morning. I dressed and crept down the fire stairs.

In the fake marble and peeling gilt lobby, the desk clerk snoozed in a chair. He leaned back so far I thought he had a good chance of breaking his neck. A security guard, a sleek young Latino with carefully ironed uniform—the cleanest sight in this shabby establishment—said “Good evening, sir,” and looked me over. As I waved and stepped into the orange glare of West Forty-Third he smiled with brilliant molars and traced me with his eyes. At three-thirty AM Manhattan seemed about as quiet as it gets. Traffic groaned and stalled at the traffic lights, sirens complained, and a surprising horde of pedestrians tripped drunk or stoned along Broadway.

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