Manhattan Rembrandt

Alright, I know I’m cheating here in not writing about London directly. But I stumbled upon a skater and filmer trying to get a clip of a nose grind down a four-stair kinked rail today that I just had to fictionalize–in New York (a vice of mine, forgive and forget). Anyway, the entire thing’s fictional, other than the boys, the blood, the and the fucking Hell Of A Trick that I hope was eventually pulled-off. . . .


Panny gets back up on his feet, staggering for a moment. His cuffed grey slacks are polished in soot, especially at the knees, and his collarless white t-shirt has stretched even farther down his shoulder blades. He puts his earbuds back in with a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his bottom lip. Blood’s begun to run down his scalp, his face.

Another boy sits cross-legged about twenty feet away from the point of impact. “Jesus, Pan, you ok?”

Panny assures him with a grunt. He looks over at his friend; into the fisheye lens, making out what might be his own silhouette.

“You’re covered in blood.”

Panny shrugs evasively for the camera, but turns before it catches his smirk. He walks over to the pricker-bush beside the stair set. Overgrowth sticks through the hand-railing’s frame. The sun’s low in the skyline and cracks off of glistening windowpanes between the city projects. Panny squints, then sticks his hand into the bush, yelping, complaining playfully. He produces a dirty skateboard for the camera and flings it over his back. Pass-byers can vaguely hear choppy, vulgar punk rock pulsating out of his cheap earbuds and see that a single trickle of blood runs all the way down his temple–that drops have begun to materialize at the tops of his shoulders and torso.

After kicking the thing around for the greater portion of a half-minute, Panny reaches down and picks the skateboard back up. The tail has already chipped and the grip tape echoes dusty, fragmented footprints. He walks over to the railing, taking the board up with both hands, then brings it down over his right shoulder and smashes the truck into the hassling kink he’d come for. There’s a loud metallic bang, followed sharply by a hollow reverberation from the rail which gains and permeates the initial crack of metal on metal. In this moment, the railing has no outline, but a subtle blur, and Panny’s dropped the skateboard and begun rolling down the sidewalk at the top of the stairs.

 *          *           *

Panny’s pushing. A city-block away can hear his wheels roar and tear down the cement path. Someone has stopped and turned. He ollies: his front truck connects with the railing and alloys grind through clean till the rudeness of the kink, again.

There’s a hiccup of pedestrian silence–people blink once, twice. Panny’s curled up, wheezing. His right leg thrashes out at the pavement. The boy filming curses as he hustles over.

“Ya alright?!” He’s pressing the camera to his hip.

Panny’s groaning, feeling around for his skateboard blindly, reactively.

“Umm,” says the boy standing.

Panny’s shoulder finds the board and knocks it over. He stops thrashing and lays on his back, looking up for a moment before reaching behind his head for the board, picking it up, and letting it fly out in front of him. It ricochets to a stop, more or less.

“Umm,” says the other boy.

Panny sits up and sniffles. The cigarette fell out of his mouth in the skating process and now lies next to him, bent into some pseudo-zigzag. He leans over and picks it up, straightening it out as best he can before placing it back in his mouth, caught on his bottom lip.

Within minutes it’s grown dark. Now the sun is behind Manhattan, and for a glimpse, a zippo-gas flicker plays off of Panny’s tight, dusty-pale face. The blood’s dried to shallow patches on his forehead while his face is speckled with metallic little blood flakes–vivid at the sparking flame, illuminated for the sudden still of dusk…

Geoff_R This is Geoff Rowley. That is all.

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