Well Balanced


It hurts. My eyes hurt. My head hurts. My body hurts and the whole of the world is turned against me from a small little ditty from my nightstand. I shouldn’t have been born if I was destined to suffer such misery. It would have been a mercy. No God can ever excuse my endless wrath at being woken up. My handles fumble out into the night and silence the noise. They also bring it up to my ear, the traitors. I grunt into my phone, and something understands on the other end.

“Ty,” says the chipper voice, “Get over here. I found a spot. A great spot. Bring the camera.”

I grunt again and more of me is brought out of my peaceful grave of dreams.

“I’m sleeping, Darian,” I groan, “Can it wait?”

“I don’t think so. I’m in the zone. I’ve found some lines and some toys I can work with. I want to get this while I’m hot.”

“You do realize It’s the middle of the night, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“You do realize I don’t know where you are, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“You do realize that you’re going to have to explain why I’m going to bill the team for this, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“And you do realize you’ll owe me a coffee when I get there, right?”

“Uh huh. There’s a Delaney Bros like two blocks from here. They might even have the fresh donuts ready too.”

That does get something out of me. I do enjoy a good donut. I do enjoy a good pay day. And, unfortunately, I enjoy my work.

“Text me the directions,” I sigh, “I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’m not bringing the whole set up. Just the guerilla bag and the stabilizers.”

“Oh, come on. Why not?”

“I don’t know the spot. I don’t know the lighting. I don’t know what you’re going to pull. It’s the middle of the night. You’re getting bare bones. If you want the whole spectrum, then we’ll have to do it later.”

“Fiiiiiine but get here soon.”

And the bastard hangs up on me before we can exchange the requisite pleasantries. Its efficient, I’ll give him that, but still. There’s a whole song and dance to existence and sometimes its nice to go through the motions. The motion of rolling over and throwing off my blankets, however, is terrible and no one should ever do that. But I do. I like a paycheck and Deck & Truck have a very good paycheck, served with no garnish.

The shower is a motion I like. The creak in my knees is one I don’t, and the little pop in my hip is a kind of a mixed bag. It feels good, but the fact that its there at all is kind of worrying. I bend and twist under the hot water and that does get the worst of the tension out. The heat’s a problem. It’s pulling me back down. The bed is calling. The pillow sings so sweetly, but the money screams louder. The night is calling out under the echo, and I think there is something wrong with me. My soap smells like birch wood. I don’t know what birch wood smells like, other than the soap version. I imagine its something akin to the whole conundrum of banana and banana candy. I don’t like bananas.

I do like my sweater and the hat over my head. Both are nice and soft. Both do a good job of keeping out the cold. Both do a good job of making me actually move on out the door. I have been summoned to some grand theater in the night. My camera bag’s over my shoulder, my keys are in my pocket and my phone buzzes. The spot’s like five minutes away. All that pomp and circumstance for a little walk around the block. I should have guessed. I live near a Delaney Bros. I go there all the time. I’ve taken each and every pastry they’ve offered and paired it with their house’s finest. But at least I don’t have to drive anywhere. It will be good for me. I need to get my steps in, and I’ll do it before breakfast is even an idea.

The night isn’t quite as cold as I thought. It is darker though. I yawn as I lock my front door. I yawn as I walk down the stairs. I yawn as I start down the sidewalk and now, I’m moving. I can’t yawn while I’m moving. Its impossible. I need to watch where I’m going. I need to feel the shimmering stars pierce my skin. And it is heavenly. It is pure. It is cold and calm and serene. It is a beautiful night with only the wispiest of clouds in the sky. I see my breathe cloud and fog and vanish into nothing. My steps echo up the brick walls. A car screams across the freeway a few blocks over. The buildings swallow the roar into a dull rumble. The world is asleep.

And there is something to such a graveyard shift. There are no people milling about, no one looking at me, no one with any expectations and judgements. A world of calm dreams that are forgotten as soon as the subject awakes. I don’t remember my dreams. I assumed they were benign and unremarkable. I would be rather upset if they were spectacular. I turn a corner and then one more. I’m glad I just brought the bag. The whole set up would be too heavy for this much work. I have to walk up a hill now, weaving in between parked cars over a brick road. It feels nice and smooth. I bet horses walked these roads before the cars took over. And I bet people beşevler escort walked over them before the horses. Really, I’m just repeating history. The lamps are nice and bright. I have two more corners to turn, and I’ll be there. So, I do that, and I find Darian waiting for me, sitting on his board, rolling back and forth impatiently. I don’t know why he’s impatient. He has a wonderful conversation partner in a lovable tramp.

“So, we put everyone’s social, everyone’s medical, on the block chain,” the tramp says, “Tie that to a smart wallet, and no one needs banks anymore. No one needs the government. Its all in the block. Cause it’s all right there. Completely decentralized and back into the hands of the people. And then there’s the whole Web4 thing. AI, VR, and complete global saturation of digital anarchy over the real world.”

Darian nods along. He doesn’t get money. He’s a million miles away, watching the spot and running through all the permutations of it in his mind. He brightens up when he sees me. He has my coffee and a little pastry bag all for me. That’s nice.

“You took forever,” he says.

“I don’t know what you expected,” I say, “And who’s your friend?”

“This is Kyle. He’s a former venture capitalist.”

The tramp nods and sticks out his hand. I do the polite thing and shake it. He has a papery grip. I say I’m Ty and I’m a current photographer. He already knows this is Darian and he’s a skateboarder. Good. We’re all on the same page and I take in my surroundings. Kyle is going back to his wonderful investment portfolio and how it would all work out if the government just got off his back.

It is a damn good spot, now that I have the mind for it. A nice long bank with a rack at the top, mostly to keep tramps like my new friend Kyle from have a good night’s sleep. All brick but worn down so it slots into one smooth plane. But the really neat piece is the mural across the back wall. That’s new. That has to be new. I refuse to believe that my eyes are that bad so as to ignore this masterpiece. It is the sea swallowing the sky under a curling wave. The sun is blotted out under a curious kraken taking it down into the abyss with a lone tentacle. Fish and whales claim the stars and I look for some grand statement under the dried paint. There is none. Its existence is all it is and that’s more than I could ever hope to be. I fish out my camera and start the long, arduous process of getting my eyes adjusted to a filter.

And its beautiful. A bit of distance and the world slots in together with the snap of my fingers and a click of the shutters. A half-assed, half focused little test is already beautiful. I can see Darian slotting himself into the moment beautifully. He will sit right under the crashing wave, suspending in air like a bird, frozen in his dance against gravity for ever and ever. Probably not cover material, but definitely something in the middle. It better be a spread or a fold out. I got up for this when I could still be asleep. Someone owes me a lot of money. Like Kyle. He says all of his tricks made him a millionaire. My new brother could surely spare a dime. The shutter clicks. Decent enough light from the streetlamps and the full moon. Gives the whole alley a good blanket of ambience.

“Ready whenever you are Darian,” I yawn, “I’m thinking of the wall as a backdrop. I’m assuming that’s what caught your eye.”

Darian nods and comes to stand on his board. Kyle still has a few choice words for hedge fund managers and how they’re all cucks, just like everyone in power really, but he gets the message. We’re here for a sacred dance and that does not require the concrete world of dollars and sense. We just need an empty alley way and the rattle of wheels on brick. He moseys on and we’re alone. I shift my weight a bit on the cold brick and adjust my sweater. Its still cold. The weatherman said it would be clear at least. A good day for a bundled up run and a good warm nap afterwards.

There’s a stiffness in Darian’s ride now. Too long spent still and talking and waiting around. He deposits my coffee next to my spot along with the donut. It’s an apple fritter missing a bite. I’ll take it out of his ass later. He rides up the bank and surfs back down. He’s just getting the memory back in his muscles. I still get a picture of it, just the make sure I’m thinking ahead. I was right. He’s going to be framed perfectly against the mural. The coffee’s good. The fritter’s better and the sugar also helps. Warm and spice and everything nice. The board dances for a moment and I’ve missed it. He doesn’t land, so its all fine. The board comes rolling down next to me.

“This the new one Leighann came up with?” I ask. Almost entirely white with a flowing script that simply reads ‘I Luv U.’ I flip it over and the color is still mostly whole. He hasn’t had the chance to grind it away with rails and ledges. It will get there.

“Yeah,” he says as I roll it back to him, cebeci escort “Kind of wish there was more to it, but that would also defeat the purpose.”

“Less is more, right.?” I don’t really get minimalism, maximalism, or any ism really. I bet there are a few that would be to my taste. He’s back to rolling around and dancing on the incline. Nothing quite as big right now. A few jumps and a few kicks and a few flips. Nothing extravagant or flashy. Just something simple perfectly executed. His wheels touch the wall, and the ride comes back down. That’s easily the best one so far. I take another sip of coffee and miss a run. Nothing special, but it’s always better to have more options.

He’s in the zone now. Not even the end of the world could break him out of the dance. Each motion is sharp and clean. Each second, each inch of motion is honed down to perfection. Everything is perfect. Everything is serene. His shirt rides up and exposes his stomach, hair’s going long and wild as he takes flight. That moment is captured and contained and caged down in my hands. It nestles with its brothers down in my SD card. I’ll have to go through them all later. So many little moments to parse back through and touch up. He does another flip outside of my corona. That’s not for me and soul cage. That’s for him.

He is mesmerizing. He is the reason the camera focuses. He is a simple bit of momentum and energy given a body. Pure and raw expression. He saw a ramp in the world, and he saw the lead in and now it is just the simple domino fall of the past forever. His shirt rides up again and I see his tattoos. There’s a new one, an airplane caught in a butterfly net. I think it means something, but I’m not sure. It stands out against his pale skin. It highlights the soft line of his muscles under the form. They bend and twist and slot back together in the dance. He hangs like a sparrow under the clouds. Such a delicate thing with such a sharp dance. It settles in the kicks and the toes. Its all in the little nervous twitches that slip in between the seconds so the whole is smooth and clean.

His body cuts the air like a knife into razor thin slices. It is flowing around him and leaving him untouched. The air hangs onto his clothes. Gravity just ignores him. He is simply ethereal, a fey dancing along the lilies. An ice crystal spinning on a frozen lake, until the wind picks up and carries him back up. I catch glimpses of his body, sharp and cut with just enough love for soft things at the edges. Pale, he is so pale, snow white and tender. He comes down again and its butter smooth.

“How long have you been here,” I ask. I flip through the stash so far. Some really good ones. I like the finger flip he did a few routines ago. The board’s a nice pop of color, his body makes a good line, and nothing important from the art is blocked. That’s what I’ll lead with.

“Couple hours,” he says, “Stopped by Chicken Coop for dinner.”

I stop and think for a moment. My tired mind is chugging along in its limping state. The photos have used most of the fuel I’ve put in. Probably have another half hour in me before I crash for good. Ty’s slowing down too.

“It’s Sunday, Darian,” I say, “Wait. Monday morning, Sunday night. You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, and?” he says. Darian rides up again and ultimately backs down. Not a good approach and I’m not ready for it.

“Chicken Coops are closed on Sundays. You’re telling me that you haven’t eaten for a whole day.”

He stops and thinks for a moment.

“It would have been Friday,” he says, “Cause they do the whole ‘Fry Day’ thing, right? That’s why I went.”

“Two days without food?”

“I’m fine. I’ve had my Octane. I can keep going.”

“Energy drinks aren’t going to cut it, man.”

“And coffee and donuts are so much better?”

“I had some real nice chicken marsala last night. Grilled asparagus and everything. I have a full meal behind me. You have fast food and caffeine and sugar fumes.”

He just shrugs and takes another approach. I start my countdown. I should have figured. Its never a clean day’s work with him. But we’re still chugging along. He does have a few more in him at least, and I’ll always go for the safety take. He goes for the finger flip again and its not quite as good as the first. The next one has his back foot meet the back wall and that’s up there as well.

He is poetic in the air. He is heavenly. Wings would only serve to hinder his ascension. The waves have taken him higher than the angels could ever hope to soar. He comes back down to earth in the midst of nirvana. The rips in his jeans shuffle up his legs. Nice and tight, although the knees will go eventually. A curse of his flight. Mine are already bad. One of the reasons I moved behind the camera. I shift. My knee’s tight and it likes the new position better. The wheels rattle behind me and this is going to be the one. I grin a bit. I can’t wait.

A full head of steam kolej escort and he gets the most air he’s gotten so far. The sun’s coming up over the clouds. The day will be bright and orange in a moment. The alarms will go off and the traffic jams will start, and all the world will turn a moment or two and we’ll still be here. I won’t have anywhere to go. I can just sit her and watch this moment forever and ever.

He goes down. Hard. The boards gone off to the horizon and the bricks welcome him into the earth. There’s a grave down there for him and he just has to be there for it. I wince when his head impacts. That’s going to be a lump on a lump, all tender and sore. I groan and grunt and let all the time I’ve had flow through this moment. Its hard to get up off the floor. I waddle off to retrieve the board. He’s still dead when I get back. He’s still dead when I pick him up and sling him across my shoulders. He’s still dead when I take him back to my place and tuck him in like a sweet little prince. I’m awake now, and I can get a few more bits of work done before I collapse as well.

I have the zip folder all squared away. I want Darian to take one last look over it before I send it off. They’re all pictures of him. As the subject, he has the right to view the art of his body before anyone else. He does not necessarily have the right to sleep in my bed, but that is a privilege I am willing to afford. I am ultimately a charitable man, despite the misfortune that station provides.

We’re still technically in the morning. Noon and whatever comes after is fast approaching. My work allows me a bit more freedom to move through the moments as I see fit. I have a meeting with a few of the other editors the day after tomorrow, but the internet means I don’t have to go anywhere for it. I think Nia wanted to book my time this week as well, but she hasn’t reached out yet. The kid will learn to be professional and follow up on work emails eventually, but I hope she doesn’t do that this week.

The oven timer still has a few more minutes on it. The bed still has a Darian in it. The morning news still has that handsome weatherman in it as well. That’s nice. Today will be sunny and clear, but still kind of cold. Spring hasn’t had enough work behind it to chase out all the cobwebs of winter. No more snow until fall or winter roll around again. That’s nice. The lights going to be good today at least, even if I won’t be out and about to enjoy. I imagine I’ll take a nice long nap. Darian’s been warming my bed for me.

And speak of the devil, something shuffles and creaks from the other room. The steps come out and I go to the kitchen. I have my own tasks to finish. He will be appreciative. He better be appreciative or he will be out in the street again. He yawns and opens a door. I’m still cooking, pulling a good old cast iron pan out of the oven.

“Morning Ty,” he says, “Did you sleep well?”

“No,” I say, “Sit.”

He looks at me all confused and scattered, hair sticking up and matted down. He’s lost his shirt at some point. Must have been too toasty for the poor boy. He’s thin. Skipping a good half of all his meals would do that. And he sits, the tattoo of the Celtic knot under his chest moving and interlocking.

I go back to my work. Plating is important. The base of simple ingredients is also important, but that base without execution is just missed opportunity. The toaster dings as well. I go the fridge and pull a simple tub. The plate has its components with a drizzle of balsamic. The smaller has its components with an appropriate amount of butter. The bowl is done as well, and everything is set. Like a good waiter, I take it over in one trip. Those skills never left me.

One by one, I set them in front of him while he sits, still dazed with the bed calling to him. Three or so hours aren’t enough, but it’s what he has. He’ll get more. He better get more. I would be rather cross if he doesn’t.

“What is this?” he says with a tender poking fork. It retains its shape.

“Egg white frittata with spinach and cherry tomatoes, three links of Cajun chicken sausage, a bowl of Greek yogurt with mixed berries and granola and a whole wheat cinnamon raisin bagel. Now eat,” I say. I have my own plate. And that’s going to be it for me. Maybe something light and green for dinner. But that’s dinner. That’s a whole day and a nap away from where I am now. He pokes it again. And again.

“Eat,” I say again, “I amazed you actually got out of bed.”

“Really?” he smirks, “Maybe I should go back in. Ring a bell and make you bring this all in.”

“If you go back in that bed, I’m going to make sure you can’t get out. Now eat. Do that and we can go over the pictures from last night.”

That brightens him up a bit. And the food does an okay job of brightening him further. The pokes led to a piece and that led to him actually trying it. He likes the sausage most of all. The yogurt too, but the frittata is a bit of a mixed bag. Too many vegetables in it, but that’s on him. He’s a grown man and he should learn to eat his veggies. I’m a clean plater, but I also made the damn thing. Kind of a bad show if the chef can’t eat his cooking.

“That’s pretty good,” Darian says as he finishes. I don’t know how he would know that. It was gone too fast for him to really taste it.

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