A cold winter chill made me think I was back in Pittsburgh. The breeze seemed to come out of nowhere, and then I turned around like someone had tapped me on the shoulder, and I wasn’t sure exactly how long I had been walking or why I’d even begun my walk, but I was thinking to myself, since when had it been so damned cold in Florida?
Pittsburgh. That seemed like another lifetime. I hadn’t been there in ten-odd years, since my brother Kenneth died, and then it hardly seemed like someplace I’d known at all. Sure, there was Schenley Park. The monstrous, sinuous University of Pittsburgh threatening to gobble up more lives and real estate in the holy name of modern education. But beyond that, my childhood seemed like something from a bad storybook. Bums smelling of urine in alleyways were the least of my problems.
I must have been caught up in thought. What was I thinking about? Something I had read in the morning paper? A memory? Maybe I had been a young man again, dressed in my best Sunday clothes. Maybe I was calling on a girl. I don’t think it was Marge I was calling on. Perhaps I was traveling. I was in Italy where beautiful women couldn’t get enough of me.
Now, I was on this damn street. It must have been near my house, and I was thinking, where the hell am I? Is this Florida, is it Pittsburgh? Am I losing my mind? Perhaps I’m a shipwrecked traveler in a strange land.
Read more in the short story collection “Something to Stem the Diminishing”
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