Thursday 23 June 2022

The Old Neighborhood by Kevin Joseph Reigle, macchiato


            There was something overly nostalgic about being in my old room. I half expected Caroline Schlitt to appear on the vintage television assuring me she was my late-night movie gal pal.          

            On the curved glass, once illuminated by tubes which undoubtedly burnt out during the Clinton administration, I could imagine the flickering USA Up All-Night logo segueing into a B-movie masterpiece.

            Through the bedroom window, the old neighborhood sprawled out over several blocks under the rising metal pillars of the suspension bridge. The buildings seemed frozen in time. Across the street, I could see the tattered green awning of Cirillo’s Fruit Market. The wooden display bins still filled with fruit ripening past their prime as Cirillo Sr. attempted to charm spinsters into purchasing spotted bananas.

            The businesses, the crumbling buildings, even the smell of popcorn coming from the Rialto was the same. Only the LED streetlight on the corner gave the game away. The modern marvel being the only hint that it wasn’t 1989 and my teenage self wouldn’t be loitering under the harsh glow of a long-replaced bulb waiting for Courtney to sneak out and join me.

            I left my old bedroom, passing by stacks of boxes in the hallway. At the top of the stairs, the stark emptiness of mother’s room forced me to look inside. Only the area rug remained. Even the four-poster bed had been taken away weeks ago.

            Outside, the For Sale sign hung from a metal gate. The final rays of sun disappeared behind the row of brownstones. Pools of rainwater sparkled with the glow of neon lights from the bar across the street.

            Far away, near the island of steel and concrete, jet engines roared. If the night was still, like tonight, their takeoffs and landings could be heard as the wind carried in from the harbor. The breeze made me wish I hadn’t forgot my jacket at the hotel.

            My Lincoln was parked around the corner, the only space I could find. As the heels of my Tom Ford loafers clicked on the pavement, I looked at the lone streetlight. The corner was empty. In fact, the entire sidewalk was. The few souls out and about earlier, were now gone. Even the bar was devoid of smokers lingering in the alley, banished from their fraternal right by the governor.

            Across the street from my car, children jumped up and down in a lighted townhouse window. A window I tapped on thirty years ago trying to get the attention of a certain raven-haired beauty. A girl who now could be anywhere. A girl, who if she ever thought of me at all, might remember me waiting under a streetlight so we could slip past the usher into the late-night movie at the Rialto.

            I couldn’t wait for my old brownstone to be sold. Whatever I hoped I’d find here, was gone.

About the author  

Kevin Joseph Reigle’s short stories have appeared in Beyond Words, The Dillydoun Review, Bridge Eight, Pensworth, Prometheus Dreaming, Bright Flash, The Yard, and Drunk Monkeys. He teaches at the University of the Cumberlands.

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