I. The Only Un-Defaced Sign in Brooklyn
Not a scratch. It’s only been up for 20 months. Regardless, it’s a feat, and an irrefutable anomaly among the rest of Brooklyn signs that are all scratched up, with spraypaint, stickers, blood, paint, and sharpie.
It’s a stop sign. The only explanations for its current mythic state rest on severely suspicious grounds of reality, but all feature a metaphysical Will of the sign’s, or an Anonymous Protector that keeps at bay those with a rattling spraypaint can, or sticker or sharpie posed, and returns the defacing tool back to their pocket.
They end up leaving, thinking about the weather, or the Yankees, or the plot of Batman Begins and if Bale or Affleck will make a better Bruce. Then hours later, when they’re blocks or boroughs away, they remember and are unable to explain why they didn’t go ahead and leave their mark. It’s this mystic thing that all the Astrologists or Horror-flick fans I know give a wide berth, at least a couple blocks.
II. The Mark
There is a misty rain and a low overhanging cloud in Brooklyn tonight, and through this white percolation, the yellow-white beams, and red and orange break lights of passing cars are muted into pastel orbs floating like objects through a vaguely defined space.
It is a warm and wet Christmas Eve, but that doesn’t stop two pedestrians from wearing masks as they walk up the Brooklyn Bridge. A car rushes by, and in the rain, sounds more like a dislodged log rushing downstream and over a waterfall as it passes. Its 1300 hours, and there is no one else coming in their direction, though Blac Kat’s partner, Hung Bae, wouldn’t know since he hasn’t looked inconspicuously over his shoulder like Kat has.
As far as people, a little shadow bends on the downward slant of the bridge. Further, smaller dark one-strokes of figures slide, crossing over the gentle sweep from bridge to street. Kat and Bae stop suddenly at the bridge’s zenith. Kat tells himself, silently, that if he doesn’t look then the heights and the obsidian waves with red, blue, and stark white reflections on the crests—and this unwelcoming and seemingly inevitable void of darkness underneath—will not be an obstacle worth regarding. Just simply, fling your figure around without thinking.
Bae has done this in one motion while he’s been inadvertently staring into the water as he’s lifting his wavering leg less than a foot off the ground. The realization of this inadequacy drives him to spasmodically jerk his leg up and over the stone.
He does. He removes an infinity loop of rope from his backpack, ties a knot around the steel beam, and runs the line through his carabiner. He straps himself in.
Kat looks over his shoulder one last time before turning, bracing his legs against the stone, and lowering himself to Bae’s level. Kat takes his gear out of his backpack. They rappel past the metal framework to the top of the supporting stone column. Once he locks the rope on his carabiner, Kat stretches his arms across the stone. Bae waits off to the side. He marks two lines of chalk on one edge, and two on the other, creating the general formation of a box. He unfurls his stencil with his other hand and tapes its corners to the chalk marks. Bae swings back into the picture. He spraypaints, as Kat holds the inside edges down, moving his now calm fingers nimbly out of the way of the spray. They leave their mark.
At the edge of the bridge, Kat peaks over the stone like old Kilroy Was Here for a glimpse of it.
Removed from the scene, he reflects on the scene often, usually while carrying up to ten beer bottle necks in the vacant space between his fingers as a bar-back. Or other times in the early morning when his imagination is still trying to achieve some obscure end in a lingering dream, which is the only objective under the parameters of the dream that then in the morning light seems trivial and non-sensical. And lastly, funny enough, when he’s in bed with a woman, Kat thinks yes, that could make me happy, not just happy, but somehow complete.
In the act, his pelvis pressed against hers as tight as possible, there it is: his mark, he sees in his mind’s eye, the sharp edges of its black paint. Other times, he sees his old tag, before he and Bae started partnering. He swells up. Sometimes the feeling is accompanied by the fast and sinking sensation he knows to associate with his fear of falling, and the black water waiting not to break his fall, but envelop him, and hide him under its maroon, and navy, and blinding white reflections. And sometimes the sinking fear comes first, before the confident swell of seeing the mark plastered onto the grooves of the stone, as he waits for these women to moan in pleasure at his adequacy.
Before he climbed back up, that Christmas Eve, Kat ran his hand along the stone. He hasn’t been able to replicate the feeling in his recall yet, though he thinks about it often.
Paul Fey is a creative writer from Bridgeport, CT. He writes and reviews fiction on his website. His fiction has been published in Fluland Mag and he regularly contributes to Monologue Blogger's culture and film section.
"Untitled" by Maia Mattson