Flash Fiction: 7,000 Feet

Much of the city is sleeping at 10 o’clock. Small packs of people wander in and out of neon shadows from one bar to the next. An astronomer has a telescope set up in the square to let the curious look up and feel small.

Altitude claims its first victims of the night; sending new arrivals into a drunken downward spiral as they struggle to find car keys, cars. Bicycles and taxis circle the block on two-lane, one-way streets, frictionless in thin air that evaporates into the cold of space for tourists to see through the telescope.

Restaurant staff close. You can watch them through the glass and tap to make them wipe counters faster, stack chairs, wash dishes, divide tips. Aprons hang, lights go off and locks turn. No one sees them walk home.

Cops stand on the corner, judging jaywalkers. Cars cautiously creep down alleys crowded with telephone lines and concert fliers. An unwashed man in a Hawaiian t-shirt tries to dance with an invisible partner who moves too fast for the camera shutter to capture. She is no more than a beam of light disappearing back into the safe confines of the bulb still burning in the diner across the street.

Middle schoolers keep a watchful eye on the adults that stumble by while they pass a cigarette and kick a hackysack ball. Alone on the street corner, a drummer plays solo for spare change and two old men listen to a blues band at the open window to avoid paying the cover.

Lovers steal away into the neon shadows. A middle-aged couple takes turns watching through the telescope. The city throws open a window to the summer breeze and gives up on trying to sleep.

— 30 —

My curious wanderings through the dark streets of Flagstaff are documented on my Twitter feed. Join me at @jonnyeberle. Wow, that sounds weird when you say it out loud.

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