The avenue is a straight line, all the way down to the water, which almost picks up the swirling flood lights, which dance in slow motion on the rolling black water,—all the way down to the pier where the avenue, the city itself self and the mounting fog begins.
The smokers throng around the tiny, nondescript front of the nightclub, the nightclub on this street—they come here with their six inch heels, the women; with their gray prom fare and pink mini-skirts, with their men; with ironed jeans and untucked collared shirts airy and light but far too long, replacement buttons on display. Up from the smoke is engendered a mushroom cloud of nicotine, illumined, as though suspended, by the lights—dozens of them crisscrossing over the avenue.
The smell of not only their breath, nor only their stale smoke, nor only their body odors, nor only fruit-scented perfums, nor only noxiousest eaux de Cologne and aftershave, nor only vomit, nor only sour mix, nor only tonic water;
but burning cigarette filters:
the smell which scrapes in the throat and lungs—thousands of tiny molten cotton filters, slow-burning, hardening to jagged pebbles—ground into the pavement... pink prom fare, apply body-spray; aftershave and ironed denims.
But all of this is merely a symptom. What choice did I have, after leaving the Bigger Apartment, but to return home.
ii. A ghostly knuckle raps the door: once, twice, three times; so that three dull socks swarm the dark rooms within, washing over everything tottering and spindly there, pulsing and shaking the veriest fringes and threads of things, until the silence answers. Tipping up the woven mat with his toes he grunts from the strain of apprehending that the key had been moved above the jamb: straining and stretching to root it out, the dark in the silent apartment notices him from the transom—some distant shard of light that wasn't extinguished the night before catches the color moving in the darkened rooms and he perceives, therefore, does Anthony, a form and a movement beyond the door, but one, for some reason, unanswering, so he tests it with a admonitory “Hello” into the wooden door off of which it bounces and returns to him in the silence of the hallway, by recourse of which is the silence once more answered by silence.
Conventional Wisdom and The Bigger Apartment, here partially excerpted, are chapters from the fourth section of , a novel forthcoming, by Zak Block