07 November 2009

Drums into Dawn

I thought that I had made it through a September blue moon without mishap, or mayhem, when at 3 a. m. I woke to pounding at my apartment door. The peephole exposed my neighbor Jimmi, wild-eyed and jumpy. I turned the knob, and she pushed through the open door coughing, exuding the essence of smoke. “You’ve gotta,” Jimmi coughed, “my room…” I pushed through the door past her and saw the problem. She had tried to stuff her burning mattress out the window onto the tarred roof of the Bon Ton building next door. It was stuck. Half in, half out. Her room was filling with smoke. We shut the door and went back to my place.

The windows in my apartment looked out at a four-foot wide canyon between our building, the Lovelace, and the Bon Ton. Jimmi and I closed down the Haufbrau more than once together and walked home to retire to that roof and talk under Montana stars. To make it accessible from my place, we angled a seven-foot plank, about 12 inches wide, from my window to the roof. The first time and every time she used it, Jimmi walked across quickly, with a dance in her step, while I always crossed on my knees, hands gripping both sides of the plank, eyes on the blackness below. Jimmi waited until I was safely across to berate my fear of walking upright. “What are you, a cat?” she’d laugh, and we’d settle into talk, KGLT pouring out of Jimmi’s windows into the night.

Jimmi wanted to cross from my place and try pulling the mattress out. She was tanked. I insisted on walking the plank. Jimmi pushed, and I pulled until the mattress let loose onto the roof. We drug it away from her window. Jimmi’s apartment was a single room, mine had a kitchen with a sink. We carried pitcher after pitcher after pitcher of water from my sink through her room, to the roof drenching the mattress before the smelly smoldering ceased. Then we set up fans to blow the smell from Jimmi’s room. We drug the mattress to the ledge on the building's backside and balanced it there. We looked up and down the alley. Nothing. We got the mattress in position to drop it, looked long at each other thinking our own private thoughts, then let it loose. The mattress landed with a splashing thump in the alley below. It was when we were sitting in our lawn chairs later, that Danny Choriki was on KGLT, laughing about some story he’d heard about the mayhem of blue moons and I remembered. Here it was, my very own mayhem, a blue moon story waiting to be told. Jimmi and I laughed and rolled Drums into dawn.

No comments: