The city calls me at night.

By day it may attend me with cruelty; trample on my polished shoes, scream and splatter me with saliva. By day the city may wring the life out of me. By day it may not spare me a parting glance or thought but when night falls, it dazzles me with a million lights. When there is none else in sight but a dark sea of twinkling dots stretching for miles and miles as far as eye can see.

At night it greets me with the rhythm of its heart beating. The music of its soul that comes alive only when the black opaque void descends from the heavens. In that ebon hour when only stragglers still stray, the city invites me into its inner sanctum, naked, and holds me close, wrapped only in the silky black of dreaded night. Here there are no secrets between us. Here I am beset with revelations.

These days, the embrace of the night is all I live for. When on my bed I lie mellow; bobbing on the undulating waves between waking and dream. Not aware but not so much at rest. More oblivious than conscious, with my back lain but my mind never quite at peace because the murky waters of my soul are constantly stirred by memories with roots deeper than my mind can touch or fathom. Then the power of her rhythm and the might of her silent song pull me into her bosom and I trudge.

Slowly and hours long I traverse a city wicked and hostile by day but solemn and prophetic by night. A city of two faces. The city at night pulls me to a different corner of its vast estate every time the iron veil of night falls to show me some secret of her mysterious soul.

Tonight, I stand on a bridge. I do not know how I got here or how far I walked to get here or even how long I have stood here. But when the lights come on I see an expanse of water serene to a fault, swaying to the gentle stir of the night breeze. Stretched away and cradling on the shore, structures, altars to man’s genius towering high into the blackened sky with rebellious dots of light twinkling here and there, like me, deprived of sleep and therefore cannot rest. From where I stand I could reach out and touch one but I do not dare move a finger lest I unsettle the night.

The water has a thousand eyes and it casts everything before me in perfect replication. A gentle breeze swoops past and with invincible hands tickles the mirror of forever and for a moment everything resonates in obedience. My head turns at its prompt. I see concrete snaking away into the distance and my feet move. My body, my mind follows.

Ahead I see a pair of lights blinking, no movement. Closer and I realise it is a car: humming; throbbing; curvy; black and silent like a terrible spawn of the night lying in wait… waiting to devour some unsuspecting prey. Movement! Rhythmic… up, down, up, down. A mass of uncountable golden threads going up and down. Beside it a torso rested, head thrown back on the head rest in oblivious ecstasy; eyes shut and gyrating to the rhythm of splush… splush. A sound; a shriek exploding from the mass of golden threads but now it has a face with eyes encircled with heavy paints with lips, cheek and chin smeared a bloody red.

A face gripped by fear, then flushed with embarrassment and finally settling in anger. The rested body ripped out of its revelry points something at me; a nozzle glittering in the lights of the overhead street lamps. Its hand steady, yells something at me. I cannot quite make out what he says! It could have been “who are you fool?” or maybe, “want some too?” But my feet gain life and the great haze sweeps me along. As I traverse, the words play over and over in my head, “who are you?” “Want some too?” And from nowhere my lulled brain sedated by night fires out, ‘who are you and what do you want?’ My mind dulled beyond reasoning quips, ‘I do not know…’ But the cloak of night is so thick and its power compelling propels me forward ending all attempts at introspection as my mind again dives into the oblivious ether of black nothingness, intent on its odyssey…

When the cloak slips away from my mind and the lights come on again, I am behind a counter. Angry faces scowl at me! My lips part and my tongue push out the words, ‘good morning. You are welcome to Swift bank.’