They call it 59th Place. A barren street lined with rubble leading to a dingy water tower. The ruins adjacent to the water tower were formerly an insurance building, but after a supposedly tragic fire-as reported by the newspapers-the building was torn down when repairs were not a feasible option. So there it sat and would, more than likely, continue to sit for years to come.
This is where we come in. We are the lost ones; we do not belong to any particular place. We slink along from setting to setting in search for something to keep us there. With cigarettes dangling from our mouths like white Tootsie Pop sticks, we congregate and band together. Our welcome is overstayed everywhere we venture except for here.
Of course it's not always sunshine and daisies. What a fucking cliché phrase. Whoever expects life to be something as simple and bright as the beating sun and flowers is one disturbed being. We gather here because of its haunting, not its beauty. The outside is nothing compared to what we find within.
You sit down, cross your legs, and scrutinize the room like the fur-coat people on the street do to your kind.
There isn't a whole community, but there are people. Lying on the floor, sitting in corners with empty Budweiser bottles, people making out against the wall. Each one with their own stench and their own redemption they must grasp in order to get into heaven.
Heaven? Can there be a place that allowed them all in too? Does one such place exist, where the monsters in town and the people in this room can coincide?
You shake your head and pull a lighter out of your pocket to flame the cigarette in your mouth. Let the smoky ash fill your lungs like the factory clogs the air you breathe. At least you're in control of what and when you want to intake.
Control. It's all about keeping cool and finding a place to belong. The outside world thinks you're a bum, a nuisance, a piece of shit. You're a no good motherfucker, and you don't deserve the same things the middle class and wealthy do.
But what else can you say? How else can you go on? People stomp on you and still you come here. Come home.
59th Place has to be your home. There is no other way and no other direction. You are not welcome in the real world and so you must make a world of your own.
Morals of the outside don't puncture us here. We live and smoke and drink and have sex and say awful things because we can. Does that make us as "bad" people? Because we don't live up to your standards, are we less than you?
And what about you, who once tampered in 59th Place? Or you, who stayed here until you found a so-called way out? There is no leaving this establishment of the forsaken. We are the neglected, cast off and left to fend for ourselves. In that we discovered and inhabited crumbly insurance building foundations. We discovered Us. The inner part of all as we sat around doing "bad" things.
I'm not saying we all should, but you can't judge us on what you don't understand or what you used to do; hypocrisy ruins humanity. With hypocrisy we see there truly is no right and wrong: there is only today and you and life. God damn it, you better live it in the best way possible, even if it's not like us who gather at 59th Place. Just promise me that.
He once dabbled in 59th Place. It was never pleasant or easy, but he made it through with the people he discovered there. His one true love: she called herself Persephone. He never knew her real name or where she came from, but he loved her harder than anyone else since.
His wife now would never understand. Don't tell the kids, she'd say. Don't corrupt them, she'd say. No. He could never explain that horrible sanctuary to her. She wouldn't understand why he took the pills, why he did Persephone in the shadows of the top floor, why he talked to the people he did and wrote what they said.
On his laptop he kept a document. His wife never saw and would never see it. It was a story, combining all the elements he wrote down from his own and others' experience at 59th Place. It connected them even though they were separated now, whether through the corporate real world, homeless on the streets, or death. It kept them all together.
They call it 59th Place, but it's not just that. Sitting there in the ruins with your back toward the water tower and your face toward the deserted road and stuck as forsaken, you can't help but feel everything flying at you at once and then disintegrating in your cigarette's smoke.
"59th Place" © 2013 Lyzzy Redd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or any means - by electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise - without prior written permission. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any concerns.
The voice in the recording is me, Lyzzy Redd.
I do not own the song "Come As You Are" by Nirvana. I was merely using it to accompany my dramatic reading.