It’s late, but there’s no question of sleep, not with this sultry summer heat that’s suffused Brooklyn, that leaves your body slick with a fine sheen of sweat even when you lie still, that brings sudden showers down, alleviating the humidity if but for a moment before it builds back up. My bedroom is small, big enough for my purposes sure but little more than a glorified shoe box, a room for my bed, but without air conditioning or a fan there’s no question of remaining within it. There’s no question of sleep, no chance that I’ll lie down, sopping and ill at ease on my sheets, to lie and wait for the early morning coolness to alleviate my woes.
Instead, I’ve opened my window, forced up the busted screen, and climbed out onto the ledge. It’s barely a foot and a half wide, rough concrete, but there’s a cool breeze out here, a slight wind that picks up and then the heat parts before it and suddenly my body is refreshed, if for a moment. The broad street below me is lit up with the sulfurous orange lights from the arc lamps, interspaced with shoals of shadow where trees stand still and heavy. There’s a faint tinge of aromatic pot coming from somewhere close, and the occasional car crawls past, engine rumbling. People are seated one stoop down, and their talk reaches me, indistinct and robbed of meaning, a chuckled laugh, a low grumbled admonition.
This is Brooklyn in summer. Perched out here on this ledge, my room small and muggy behind me, the avenue turgid and still below, silence all around but for the low murmur of distant and intermittent traffic, I find myself relishing it. An old man with dreadlocks has just arisen from the stoop directly below me, where he’d been sitting smoking a splint. Tossing it away, he walks out onto the pavement, and begins to slowly meander towards the corner deli, out of sight, absorbed by the night. The smell of pot lingers in the air, and then the breeze picks up, and it’s gone.