The machine grinds away churning the night into writhing hallways of smoke, sweat and indifference, pierced by the rapid fire strobe of distant memories flashing on the back of our collective retina. Memories that keep us here, even as we stumble through the back alley exit, numb to the cold, numb to the sight and sound of the neon machine engaged in a timeless battle with the wind and the rain and the darkness of night. Candy coated electrical conduits transmitting the disease. Infected. Stage 6.
Waking in the gutter, shirtless and void, no cure in sight, we fix our blurred gaze on the sliver of crescent moon hanging low on the vertical horizon as the sun prepares to slip sideways into the light of day. Our long lost senses slowly return to their frostbitten homes amongst our synapses, and an inescapable reality envelopes us;
It has become our enemy, gripping and shaking us as we wrestle into our still-wet wetsuit, 20-grit with sand from yesterday’s ocean. The frozen darkness of pre-dawn has not yet revealed the reason we put ourselves through these paces, but we can hear it in the distance, like a machine grinding away, churning the remains of the night into swirling walls of water, salt, and stoke. The sound stirs memories that keep us alive, and keep us coming back for more.
We stumble out the back of our van, insulated now from the cold, nearly tripping over the shirtless guy in the gutter. Where’d he come from? Back to the van for a blanket and a bagel and what’s left of our morning coffee. We throw the blanket over his wretched frame, stopping to see that he’s breathing, leaving the food and coffee beside him, hoping he’ll figure it out. We make our way across the sand as the first light of day dawns, the moon hanging even lower now over the rhythmic horizon, soon to be immersed in it’s daily cure. Just like us.