Night Watch (a vignette)

It was midnight in the financial district. A few soft lights were scattered about. The sidewalks and the narrow streets shone wet, yet somehow in harmony with the man as he walked, and paused, and walked along. He wore a thick dark jacket, unzipped (although the still, moist air was cold), as if he wanted fuller contact with the city and the night. It seemed as if each slow and easy step was a breathing in and a breathing out, and he was the breath. At a dim corner he stood still and took off his round cap. He let his eyes travel up with the sharp-cut, dark stone of the building before him, travel up toward the gray low-hung clouds, with their tender embrace. His face was wet from the mist. It was a solid, square, self-satisfied face, simple, serene and unbroken. The thick lips wore a slight smile as he put his cap back into place. Then he reached a bare hand to the rugged granite wall at his side, not, as it seemed, to steady himself, but to steady the wall, the building, the street, and the whole great city. His hand move a bit, as in a light squeeze. Then he stepped around the corner and was gone. I’m the night watchman at the bank. I watch and I see.

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