Jasper Ave, 5:05 pm

5:05 p.m.  At the top of the hill, two girls wait to cross Jasper.  Both pacing, both with the swagger of the chemically altered.  Sensible enough to wear jackets, but not jackets meant for the season.  Those impossibly tight faded jeans can’t be helping them keep warm, either.  A pickup truck, Ford, mid-80’s, rusty, pulls up, to wait for the same light.  The girls stare down the middle-aged man inside, taking in the grey hair resting on his shoulders, the mustache-beard combo.  Does he have money?  Will he party?  One girl yells.  Not at him, necessarily.  Just yells.  The other thrusts her pelvis, grabs her crotch, by way of advertisement.  His jaw tightens, he stares ahead with self-imposed blinders.  The girls laugh, the pitch too high.  They missed their light, but they cross, anyway.

5:09 p.m.  Columns of glass and steel rise, meeting the sky, choking out what little sunlight lingers.  Three men, two in trench coats step quickly onto the curb.  Then, turn to cross again, doing their best to ignore the gentleman with the matted hair, who is engaged with a tree planted in the middle of the sidewalk.  As the man, whose jacket and fingernails match his hair in filth, approaches the trio, they tense, but only slightly.  Even a homeless man should know that these are men of purpose.  Men who do not hand out nickels to other men.  Knowing he’ll be rebuffed, he perseveres, asks the Important Men for help, hand held out in the universal gesture of supplication.  And in return they give him the universal shake of the head, the refusal to acknowledge that both types of people exist, are necessary.  But men who talk to trees are not always easily rebuffed.  He advances.  They close ranks, Armani shoulder to Armani shoulder, and turn their collective back.  A small woman, black hair tied at the nape of her neck, business-suited, silently presses a bill into his hand.  And they stand together, staring at the wall of Armani.

5:12 p.m.  A man and a woman come up out of the underground tunnels.  The man leads, pace brisk, focused.  The woman runs to catch up.  Briefcases in both their hands confuse, initially.  Co-workers, rushing to catch the same bus?  Or a couple, meeting up at the end of the workday?  The confusion clears as the woman talks, talks ahead, saying twice as many words as she needs to, in the vain hope that some of them will stick to him.  He hears the words, the irritation and resignation on his face showing that he does.  But he’s not listening.

5:17 p.m.  A pink snowsuited girl, curly brown hair sneaking out from under a toque, extends her hand above her head, in order to hold the hand her mother offers.  A flashing Do Not Walk hand is failing to enthrall her.  She jumps, as high as a small child in winter boots can.  And then higher.  And higher.  Her mother, same curly brown hair, is loaded down with shopping bags, purse, messenger bag, and a My Little Pony backpack.  Any trace of sunlight is now completely absent.  A fiery ball of pure energy is attempting to tear her already overloaded arm out of its socket.  And the mother looks down at the ball.  And she grins.

(Image is On my way to work by Nelson_77)

23 responses to “Jasper Ave, 5:05 pm

  1. Thank you for your comment. This, too, is lovely. I live not far from you and I miss the daily hum of Jasper Ave after work.

  2. some days i just don’t see them all… thanks for reminding me to take off the blinders…

  3. Love it. Glad the mother grinned. It was a perfect way to end the post, particularly after the Armani suits.

  4. “the swagger of the chemically altered”, damn i like that, shit shit shit, can i use it for the title of a book of short stories? that is if i ever get it written, and god how i love that swagger, not as much these days as in my wasted youth but it’s like falling off a bike really… and that was a good post, something about it i really dig.

  5. Great building of tension, I kept waiting for a car to careen into someone or one of the suits to pull out a gun. Loved the capitalizing of Important Men. Loved it Ginny, vignette away.

    • Oh man, that would have been a WAY better ending!! Are you sure you haven’t been screenwriting lately? (And I was due to vignette. It’d been a while 😉 )

  6. This was fabulous! I love detailed descriptions of strangers.

  7. Really nice. I think writing every day agrees with you. Or at least with those of us who read you.

  8. Fascinating description. I like to sit and watch people do what they do, but I have never looked with so much detail.

  9. I visualize myself as a person who would see things the way you’ve described. That was just…neat. (as in cool, not clean, but the word is over-used)

    I’ve failed at that.

    Maybe I should write. I need my eyes opened…

  10. I used to work, and at one point walked the picket line, on Jasper Ave. I always found it to be an interesting and sometimes poignant slice of life. Thanks for bringing that back for me.

  11. this looks like a very good exercise. how did i miss this post?

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