We Saw Your Light On

Up Late in Other Neighborhoods

Rumbling Trains, Wailing Prostitutes, and the Fruit Flies in Annie Wagner's Apartment

Up Late in Other Neighborhoods

Aaron Morris / amorrisphotography.com

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We Saw Your Light On

Pioneer Square

The trains never stop. From the tunnel's opening just below Pike Place Market to its opening here, at King Street Station, they run all day and all night. Often, around 2:00 a.m., a woman sleeps on the street above the opening at King Street Station. She sleeps on a piece of cardboard and under a thick blanket. The trains run below her. On one particular night, there is a very long train making a journey to a land that seems to have bought an entire state. Bridges, telephone poles, toys, homes, people, animals—everything is going to this amazing place. The engine is pulling a thousand freight cars. One after the other, the wheels and cargo of the chained cars rumble and rattle. The woman on the cardboard can't take the noise. It is loud and endless. Her mouth is open; her hands close her ears; her legs are up in the air and rocking from side to side. Her screaming and rocking match the rattling and rumbling. The sad scene is very real, but the correct place for it is inside of a dream, a very bad dream. CHARLES MUDEDE

Pike/Pine

As the last man out locks up the Eagle, six others form a loose company on the sidewalk. The first to break away does so with a hardy salute and saunters off with his shirt still unbuttoned and his round, pink belly leading the way. Two men, one with a bottle-blond mullet, the other with denim shorts and black socks bookending knobby knees, pair up, turn away, and wait for the light to change. One of the remaining three is wearing a Utilikilt and work boots. One has a dilapidated Mohawk pulled into a topknot. The third is younger with smooth caramel skin. Suddenly their laughter and easy stances are interrupted by an awkward silence. AMY KATE HORN

North Capitol Hill

It's 2:00 a.m. in my neighborhood, near the deep ravine of Interlaken Park, which is rumored by a recent series of flyers in a child's hand to be infested with coyotes. But the outside world is dead right now. Inside, fruit flies are awake and emerging from the Christmas cactus that sits on my kitchen table. I find it hard to believe that the flies are actually coming out of the cactus—the softening tomatoes on the counter seem more likely—but they're always flying in a more or less straight line from the cactus to whatever fruity or fermented drink I have in front of me. If I smash one, the cactus yields another. Only at 2:00 a.m. would I find myself so preoccupied by the relationship between flies and a cactus. ANNIE WAGNER

Central District

When will he die? If I coughed the way he coughs at night, I would be dead in a week. The cougher lives in the apartment below mine. We live in the Central District. His place is just like mine. The same bathroom, the same living room, the same kitchen. The cougher's bedroom is below my bedroom. His bed is directly below my bed. We go to sleep about the same time. But late at night, always after midnight, he wakes up and starts coughing. It is a hard, mucus-thick, lung-deep cough. I want to return to my dreams but his fit of coughing blows away any drowsy mist that gathers around my head. It's 2:00 a.m., his lights are on, his lungs are fighting for life. CHARLES MUDEDE

Aurora

Seal's Motel on North 120th Street and Aurora Avenue North would be a sad, creepy place even if it weren't this late, even if it weren't raining, even if that man weren't reclining in his car at an angle that makes him look dead. There is a woman just down the road with short black hair, a short black skirt, and a shiny silver jacket. She's shouting and jumping. It's hard to tell whether she's happy or angry or just high. She simmers down when she sees me approaching. "Are you shouting because you're happy?" I ask. "Or because you're sad?" She's quiet, like she can't decide. "I guess both," she says. BRENDAN KILEY

 

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