Stagnant summer heat encompasses me where I lay half-blanketed by shade. The breeze brings with it the ease of opium smoke. I grow ever heavier watching as the sidewalk procession before me passes as endlessly as a river, my eyes level with their ankles. I name each one with the emotion they evoke on their way passed.
This woman's name is Desire. The spikes on her shoes announce her arrival like a drumroll in staccato slowmotion. Her smile echos her white clothes and her yellow hair billows in the wind like flames. I sink into the ground. She is a walking reverie. Even music would fail to describe her. Helpless, I do not deign to make her real by speaking. When she smiles everything, even the very daylight, is irrelevant. I do not look away until she disappears.
This man's name is Paranoid Mechanophobia. Noticing the stiffness of his gait I can hear the pistons whirring in his head and the gears grinding their teeth in his clenched jaws. He wears a steel-wool grey sweater and his slacks are blacker than a mechanics hands. Not a corner contorts in his rigid mask, the android's stare is vacant of reaction to the street life he passes. He does not look toward the park but his head finally swivels to check for traffic before he disappears across the block.
This woman's name is Haughtily Discriminate. Her dress looks like it was sewn from the drapes at her mothers house. She does not wear shoes on her black feet. She has a face like a pink bullfrog whose bulbous eyes frown at the people hurrying past. As a breeze lifts the thought of the wind on her slimy complexion makes me shiver in the sun light. She drags a bulging bag at her shoulder that anyone can guess is stuffed with the sins of her past and future. I can still hear the din from her toothless mouth long after she disappears.
This man's name is Stoic Respect. His old leather shoes are as soft and worn as his aged body. Kinky hair sprawls over his head like a mess of tarnished copper wire, here red, there silver, there black. He wears a shabby wool blazer and faded slacks. I strain to imagine the nature of the thoughts that streaked his face with such deep creases and of the irreconcilable disillusionment that has so exaggerated his tired eyes. What books are in the small stack he carries and what myriad had he carried before. What unholy miracles and righteous crimes does he remember, while the rest of our race has chosen to forget. I miss him when he disappears.
This man's name is Pensive Boredom. I recognize his shoes, they are the same black and white canvass shoes every passing schoolboy is wearing. On his white shirt is an advertisement for its designer. His eyes are as dull as his military haircut. He walks with stiff motions of an automaton. The conversation between him and his small group of clones has no rhythm to it. Not even a marching cadence, it is only a monotone droning. Nothing is said in their sentences. Through their constant efforts to shock each other, their word lose meaning. I don't even notice when they have disappeared.
This man's name is Pious Disgust. His skin and clothes are greasier than the parking lot asphalt He reeks at a distance. Dirt crusted toes poke out from large holes in the side of his shoes. He fills his dingy mailbag with parcels pilfered from the garbage can. His skin is the same grey hue as his hair. It is sagging leather that he has worn for too long. And I relax a little bit when I notice he has disappeared.
This woman's name is Lust. From the hoof-like points of her shoes, her legs stand taller than me. They vanish into a dress the color of freshly spilled blood. Her breasts hang riper than any fruit could hope to be and even silk would offend her bronze skin with it's envy. Her stride is submissively violent. Devastating. Had she not tied her hair back, I'm sure that it would block out the sun. And her delicately pointed eyes, the night is not so black. I was so enrapt, I didn't think to call to her until after she had disappeared.
It will be late soon.
I slowly stand, stretching the atrophy from my limbs.
I am delighted when I see my friend the professor.
I call to him, rushing to relate all the lives
I witnessed today.
I tell him the names of the men and women who
I have seen this afternoon.
He retorts: "All these people live lives deeper than the shallow observations you've made in the few moments as they pass. Some might seem grotesquely terrible and terribly ordinary but you have watched them in vegetative stillness. And after they disappeared from your sight they arrived at some destination with an anticipated aim or chance experience waiting for them. You have experienced only their passing. Your only aim has been to lie in the grass like a corpse, dead on the war-field of a battle you didn't fight."
We stood staring at each other in silence for a little while both of us wearing guilty expressions on our face. He apologizes for speaking harshly and invites me someplace that I do not go. We part in feigned politeness. And I go home to sink into a deep, tedious insomnia.