Painted Telephone Polls

Months travelling across the country’s respective belts, rust, wheat, and bible, had left him hungry for something substantial. Something that didn’t taste of sun bleached plastic and salt. Something that didn’t sound like the radio cycle.

Gas stations, covered in dirt and rust, marked the sides of the pavement, monoliths along an ancient highway. They relinquished their hold first to uniform suburbs with perfect miniature lawns and malls, and then finally to mismatched storefronts and painted telephone polls.

Now beneath apartment buildings with mismatched windows, he paused to explore.  Hung over the bars, boutiques, and smoke shops, black fire escapes draped the building’s sides like lace. Musty liquor shops survived with peeling stucco and vandalized loitering signs. They carried on amidst new whiskey lounges and self-service dog salons, serving the budding alcoholics of their community, graduate students and disillusioned hipsters past the partying scene but still in need of oblivion.

He found a coffee shop first, an easy feat with one almost on every block, each with their own smart blackboard sign on the sidewalk. Smells of burnt coffee and sugar coated pastry filled the air with bittersweet scent. In the corner, a singer with scruffy brown bangs curled around her guitar. Caught in their screens and crisp paperbacks, no one watched her warble a cigarette-rusted song. But she set her fingers to the guitar’s strings and creased bills climbed the sides of the fishbowl before her.

He dropped a crumbled single into the bowl before he left, the meager fruits of pudgy Midwest audiences, and went to seek his own stage.

This place was a moment in time, dirty sidewalks and artisan bakeries, designer jeans and molding blankets. Eventually, the liquor shops would close, replaced by fair-trade markets, the homeless would be pushed out to make room for yoga studios. A year, maybe three, maybe ten from now, and they’d buffer this place until it shone, bright and soulless.

He set the case open before him on a street corner, and cradled the violin tenderly beneath the angle of his chin. For now though, the sidewalk remained dingy, the mix of dispensaries, vegan eateries, and craft tasting rooms, confused. He might as well be part of it all while it lasted. The string hummed against his fingers when he set the bow. He smiled and began to play.

This weeks challenge comes from Raw Rambles, as she challenged me to write to Angel Olsen’s Give It Up. I went for feel instead of subject matter this round, but see what Raw Rambles came up with as well on her blog

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