Aodh took two steps forward, cautious but unapprehensive, like he
was moving towards the edge of a great cliff. His focus was on a large, brick tower he had been drawn to for many blocks. Behind him was a fence, and a black overlaying red No Trespassing sign. To him it had a voice: gruff and authoritative, with an inﬂection that condescended. It was fearsome, but also afraid. He looked over to the building that bordered the tower and saw two feet behind a massive aluminum door.
They were wearing worn black leather boots and the right foot tapped
quickly. Loud, droning sounds like the inside of a drier were
ubiquitous. Aodh walked quietly past the door to the back-side of the
tower and saw that it had steps up to a window. It was small but had
been widened by attrition of weather. The bricks that bordered it were cracked and falling, and he was able to pull them off to make the hole big enough for his head.
Slowly, Aodh ﬁt his head in the tower, trying to look down. The dark
abyss excited his imagination but he soon realized the smell of gas
pushing past him out the top of the tower. His vision, already confused by the darkness, began to blur, and his head to throb. A gripping fear came over him, he became tense and immediately tried to pull his head out but only scraped it against the bricks, unable to leave. In that moment the darkness had eyes, bulging and red, that asked him to lay down his head.
Relentless gusts of gas burned his eyes and blew at his hair, he was
forced to take a breath, stabbing and mutilating his chest. He put
his hands against the brick outside and felt the edges of the window.
Emotionless, he pulled his head out without touching the sides.
Aodh felt completely weak, and fell down on the platform. He looked,
still blurred and distorted, onto his reﬂection in a large piece of metal at the bottom of the stairs. His teeth protruded violently from his face with the rusted curvature, his ears were pointed and his forehead squarish. There was a dark red hue that came from the the setting city sun. All this framed his two, seemingly enormous, bulging, red eyes.
The same gripping fear came over Aodh as he realized that those were
the eyes of the tunnel, the eyes of the darkness. He tried desperately to tear himself away but felt no control over his body.
In this impotence and immobility Aodh was compelled to think about
ﬁre. Maybe it was the blood on his neck, or the sunset over Queens, or the charcoal black building that surrounded him. Aodh began to
imagine ﬁre consuming the forest, it’s most beautiful light unseen by
living eyes. How it raised itself to catch more fuel, how indiscriminately it destroyed. He thought of himself moving through the world, wandering and discontent, always searching for something unknown.
He thought about how all he had found were his own eyes as death,
and how hot his chest was. Aodh began to cough and wheeze, squirming on the ground like a worm in the rain. This brought feeling and a bit of strength back to his extremities, he moved his ﬁngers. Pawing at the ground and then pushing himself upright, he ﬁnally was able to turn away from the metal and ﬁnd the window, just a crumbling hole in his abstracted sight. To Aodh it screamed.
Aodh felt his pockets for his phone and pulled it out, it was dead. He felt his pockets for his wallet and pulled it out, it was empty. He ﬁgured he would hop the turnstiles and go back to Manhattan and
ﬁnd Wendy. He wished he could be there already, his eyes were hot
and his body weak. He was scared he would not be able to see the
same again. He cursed his stupidity, his eyesight was so good. He loved to look out over the city in detail, see the windows and the kitchen lights for miles. To imagine love and hate ﬁlling the different rooms. Aodh began to descend down the stairs.
The sound of voices with heavy New York accents accompanied by the
crash and heavy reverberation of a garage door came from around the
corner. Mufﬂed, “Hey… the green one” banging and scraped metal on
concrete, and then, younger, “See ya tomorrow, boss.” Aodh froze. With the droning constancy of the environment these noises seemed to
come with knives. They attacked his chest like the gas had, he
collapsed back to the ground. Frustrated, Aodh stood back up, too
fast, because he started to feel heavy and darkness corroded his
vision. He fell again.
“Rubin, I think there’s someone over there”
“Are you ok?” A voice came toward him, intimating concern and
Aodh tried to answer but again, he couldn’t move.
“Kid, you gotta get up or I’m gonna call somebody.” The man’s
keychain shook and a car started from around the tower.
For a moment Aodh still felt immobile but a deep breath brought
connection to his legs and he gained the rest from there. Opening his
eyes, relieved and frightened, Aodh saw the outline of a large man in a green jacket come into focus. He blocked the sun so his edges glowed, his teeth and dark eyes were facially all that was discernible.
Ignominiously, “I’m sorry I’ll go, I was just looking at this tower, I’m a photographer.” Aodh showed them his camera and tried to move away afraid that their concern for his well being might soon be about his trespassing.
“Are you sure you’re ok? Where you goin?”
“Trying to get to a train that goes back to Manhattan, I took the E
here, you know of a station close by?”
“Yeah, we're going toward the N, you want a lift? It’s a bit of a walk and you don’t exactly seem ﬁt for it right now, what happened to you anyway?”
Aodh explained that he was ok to walk but would appreciate the ride
anyhow, that he was just laying on the ground so he could get a shot
up the tower. They seemed skeptical but still opened the car door. It
was a new, black SUV, the seats were cold. The man who talked to him
was also the driver, his name was Mike. The rest never introduced
themselves and only continued their conversation, something about
the cost of roses and the many uses of concrete. As soon as the car
started the radio was turned to the classical station and was kept at an uncompromisingly high volume. The blur in Aodh’s eyes as he looked
over the Manhattan skyline, the pluming smoke from the electricity
plant electriﬁed orange from the sunset, the massive mountain of
white in the salt storage ﬁeld, left him breathless as a great crash of horns and cello’s ﬁlled the world with immediacy. He took out his
camera, he was disappointed with the results.
Mike dropped him off at the N train and said that he should ﬁnd
different places to take pictures that that was private property. Then he said “Take care, Aodh.” In his last glimpse of the car Aodh saw two of the men in the back hug each other and saw them speaking
intimately, their words in oblivion, all he heard was piano and an
Before stepping underground he looked up at the sky and thought
about ﬁre. How it was blue and red like his blood. How it warmed his
body and others who huddled near. How it lit the way.
The attendant in the booth sat hunched over slowly eating a sandwich
in abnormally large bites while staring at the entrances. Aodh resolved to wait until the train came, hop over a turnstile on the right out of clear view, and hope the doors would close to the downtown train before they could do anything about it.
When the time came he waited as most pedestrians passed, two ladies
in the same coat and a man with a nirvana tote bag, and then went for
it. He got his right foot stuck on one of the bars and when at last he pulled it off he was grabbed roughly by the scruff of his neck and torn to the side. A man with a dark mustache and and a large belly had apprehended him in plainclothes. He pulled out his badge and told
Aodh to give him his ID. Aodh’s heart was beating rapidly and his chest was in pain again. He felt nauseous and angry, a full bodied embarrassment.
“Can I at least take the train?”
The whole time he starred the cop in the eyes, there was obvious
animosity and disrespect from both parties. Aodh listened to him with
disgust, he remembered that kind of voice from cheating in middle
school. He remembered them from lectures and ﬁghts with his
parents. He felt hatred burning his lungs and had an urge to strike the cop. He received his ticket, and was kicked out of the station.
Aodh, disparagingly and sarcastically left with a, “Have a wonderful evening ofﬁcer.”
What really was a turnstile and why did it block him? Who built it and why was it any different from the walls of a prison? All the eyes that looked on, and the bodies that stepped innocently onto the train were complicit. This was injustice and caging. A lion in a Zoo. Aodh felt he would always bite the hands that contain him. Back in the cold, it was now dark out and a wave of exhaustion began to crawl up his body. He knew that he had to get back to Manhattan, and wished he had memorized Wendy’s number like he had done with all his friends when he was young.
Aodh began to walk back along the river towards a bridge he had seen in the car. It would be a long walk but he could probably eventually ﬁnd a station where he could get into the system (just one stop wouldn’t end a habit). He passed the large brick wall of the electricity plant and looked onto the massive buildings and towers all passing smoke. He thought about towers and his day. How they stood tall in his mind. When he got to the end of the wall there was a gate where cars could get in and out of the plant. There was a guard in the building next to the gate, he could see him moving around. When Aodh stopped to look in the plant the guard exited the building and walked up towards the gate.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m just looking, can I walk around?”
The guard, taken aback, looked at Aodh sternly, “No, and just look too, no pictures, this is protected by homeland security.”
Aodh was silent, in his mind there was an image of spiders at a wedding, under the altar in the molded wood.
“Thank you, have a nice evening.”
When Aodh ﬁnally reached Wendy’s, the city was quiet. He buzzed the room many times before she ﬁnally responded. He thought she must be out somewhere else, he began to feel jealous and angry. Then the door opened and he stepped inside.
Wendy opened the door to her apartment with a look of confusion and
concern, Aodh felt he should leave. She took his hand and lead him to
her couch and they sat with their feet up looking at each other. She
rubbed his pointer ﬁnger with her thumb.
“Are you ok?”
“I saw my eyes as death.”
Wendy squeezed his ﬁngers pushed his legs to the side and put her
head between his shoulder and neck. She breathed hot on his chest.
Aodh began to breath with her and he closed his eyes. His hand
gripped her side and began to rub slowly across her hip, his breath
and hers with lust descending. In his mind he thought about ﬁre, how
it destroys and creates. How it can burn so wild. His chest was now
gripped with fear and pain and was a furnace of himself.