By C. Allen Harrison
Alleyside of the arched stone-bridge. Hinge-squeaks and motorsmoke sliding along the wallwhite dimples dragging streaks and crumbling plaster from the bricks. Smell of dogfuck from the cobblestones. Flatbread scraping pottery. Water slaps the stones and steam twists between the spokes across me.
Water seeping ants toward me. Roll my stomach to against the stones my palms against the stones and slide myself from under the pullcart. Into sunlight. Walk my hands along the grime of that wall. Thumbs into my eyes. Legpush up the bridge. Over the smell of greengray twisting against itself inside wallshade. And Front Street. Shreds of paper and cigarettebutts rolling edgeburned along asphalt. Piling in cracks.
Open my pants and burble into the roiling. Drops slipping into concrete-spackle cracks in the smooth-corner stoneledge. Down the bridge. Sameside. My hip against the metaledge of the pullcart. Pinch my pants with my fingers and shake them. Pat my palm against my chest.
There. Pull my fingertips along the cigarette and poke damp-shreds into the paper.
Roll the cigarette against my tongue and hold it with my lips. Lift the pullbar to against my hip my thigh against the handle and step. Sound of wheel-metal sliding against stone. Drop the pullbar. Lift the edge of the clothsack in the cart and take the trowel from the cart and run the edge of it between the wheelhub and wheel and drop the trowel onto the sack. Lift the pullbar.
Cobblestones bowl ahead toward the wall. Cobblestones crushed around slits between stones darkshining and hardfoam-flecked.
What goes through.
And coalbrick-chunks glowing beneath a metalpot against the wall. Steam slipping across its crushed-edge into sunlight. Check-check and nobody there. Clatter the lid. Cigarette-paper spitwet against my ear. Suck saltdrops from the pot-dipper.
And ease the cart through the gap.
“The bricks are there.”
Pulling the pullbar. Sounds leak alleyward across bridges passing bridges spreading alleylong sounds of horns sounds of yelling. Metal pinging against stone.
Filaments of flesh tangled with papertwists oilclear and gritspackled go through.
Hardburned sesame-seeds go through.
Strewn concrete-crumbs around the half-bricked door. Turn the pullbar against the cart. Concrete-dust and patches of plastic-film clinging to the door. Take the crowbar from the cart and pull chunks of red-brick concrete-smeared from against the doorframe. Flakes clattering against the cobbles. Rip the papersack in the cart and tilt it against the cart-edge running cementsand onto the stones. Cementcloud. Take the bucket from the cart. Cross the alley shortwise and drop it. Flick the rope the bucket tipping water seeping along the edge and pull the bucket turning flicking drops over the greengray. Pick a plastic-shred from it and drop it into the greengray.
And pour bucketwater onto the sand.
Featherflecked chickenbroth goes through. And hairwads with semenclots stretched from skinflakes tight around hairroots.
Take the cigarette and twirl it against my tongue.
“The sand is going.”
Squat and trace the troweltip dragging sandwater between the stones toward myself and stand.
Lean my shoulder against the wall. Suck my lips against the cigarette and spin it with my fingers.
Rest my forehead against the plaster the plaster flexing against the wall. Crackwebs warping in the plaster. Move my lips the tip of the cigarette wiping black from the plaster.
Bloodknots going through. Phlegmknots going through.
“The sand is clotting.”
Lift my head. A plate of plaster forehead-sticks and falls sliding along the plaster and plastershards spread across the stones.
Press my fingertips against them. Coolflat stonefeel. Lines and lines. Rub my fingertips between them even-edged.
Where did we go.
Turn my back toward the wall. Down the stonesteps waterward. Slice the trowel into the cloud shifting what goes through greengray along the step. Rub my fingers along the trowel and push my thumb against it.
Cementsand spreading into the slowflow of greengray.
And up stonesteps the trowel dripping glints metal-clean against my pantleg. Risefall of engineturns rolling along the walls. Push the trowelblade smearing watershapes shrinking in sunlight against the gray-bricks. Turn the troweltip between bricks and plaster fragments of plaster tumbling toward me.
The trowel goes through.
Take it out.
Plaster crumbling toward the stones. Squat and wiggle the trowel into the sandpile splitting rivulet-dry and stir sand tipping the bucket against it and lift the trowel. Cementgob flattening. Halfdry spilling sand against the blade. Push the blade against the gob against the bricks. Cement squeezing against mortar against lines and lines. Smear it with the blade-edge across the bricks. Covering the gray-bricks.
All of the gray-bricks.
But the gray-bricks are there.
Wipe the trowel against my pants. Drop it into the cart. Take the bucket and tip it empty and drop it into the cart.
Any way of coming we are here.
Lift the pullbar.
And the bricks. The bricks are there. Kilnfresh red-bricks there. Pocked and chipped. Stacked tilting three widths against the wall. Rough and sunwarm.
The sound of Front Street coming through and splashing against the greengray. Sound of ripples sound of breeze. Lean my leg against the handle of the pullbar. Metal-edges of the cart scraping bricks—shedding brick-dust—scraping wall.
C. Allen Harrison has lived in California, China, Ireland, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and Spain, and done disaster relief in Haiti and the Philippines. His fiction has appeared in publications including Unsaid, Hobart, The Los Angeles Review, Thrice Fiction, and Sidebrow. He is editor-in-chief of the HCE Review, and assistant editor of Language and Semiotic Studies.
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum,The Albright-Knox Art Gallery & The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since 2006 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 230 on line and print magazines He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists' Fellowship Inc.