‘Twas a baleful fog last night that filled the empty streets. This being early November, and 3 o’clock in the morning, I was quite by myself, exempt from traffic lights’ propounding boundaries, whether green or yellow or puce, crossing streets as I durst, as lost in the fog as the scattered lights of streetlamps. The low moiling clouds took up the meager lights of the city and gave them bloom. Each sodium arc that I passed beneath became a golden vapor. Each turn of the traffic lights’ trifold face turned the world into a green haze, a crimson cloud, an amber ether. I could not read the street signs. I could not hear clearly in the cottony thicket. The barking dogs became roving echoes unchained by their masters, to romp, and carom from wet shadowy building to spectral skyscraper, up their sudden heights, revealed to me only as I passed beneath them, with the sounds of the dogs showering down.

Downtown Long Beach was a ghost’s downtown, full of haunts closed to mortal passersby. In beaded windows shadows shuffled, marking me as I passed, corners that were rife with the homeless and the salaried by day were abandoned, dark places, whose marbled tiles accentuated the vacancy, making clouds in their reflections to match the befogged air, and a reflection of me as I passed over, upside down in the glass.

I paused to stare down at myself, wet and bedraggled, my beard dotted with the blackened reflections of that reflection, and clear perspiration dripping mirrors, the fog above me, below me, at the high end of the evening and the low part of morn. We waved to each other and passed on.

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