Underground Pool: November 7, 2010

By S. Andrew Albitz '13 (Acting)

Steam slowly rises in thick plumes as the subway tunnels and sewers empty their secret warmth into the Philadelphia streets. Grease-cart smoke, sweet, stale, bloody; the cigarette trails like snakes in the evening sky; exhaust trickling from tailpipes and clinging to the cold, hollow concrete—all stewing in the stale October air. The vaporous broth of evening has become thick, and the air is beginning to curdle, bearing down on the city with its breathless weight.            

There is a black mass moving into the city from the East, skipping right over the Delaware as though it were a footstream, and from the West, a procession of men, skin dark as night, marching their huge drums—BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause), BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)—straight into the storm. The pulse comes from everywhere as the procession moves closer, closer, each throb becoming louder until it is all that there is—BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause).

The only other person to challenge the silence is the man dying on the corner—his ancient, rusted harmonica screaming against the freezing wind—his dark tune seeming to cut right through the pulse—BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)—taking on the tight, rancid texture of molasses. As the rolling cloud and the black procession—BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB, (pause)— inevitably converge, the harmonica's cry is trapped in the bloody firmament forever, frozen in space and time. BOMB, (pause), BOMB-BOMB,