All the way there, the subway car clattering and rumbling, making everyone standing sway a bit drunkenly, Al struggled with his emotions. He’d been gone so long and so much of what he knew, the places he’d haunted and came to know and love, were gone, closed, or about to close.
The city of his youth was gone, relegated to history like ancient tombs and temples under the desert sands.
Welcome home, Ozymandias.
Well, how about Oz, for shorter. Oz was short
No dude, Oz wasn’t the wizard. It was the name of the place. Like Frankenstein? It’s the name of the doctor, not the monster.
The train mercifully came to his stop, forcing him to shut down the stupid word association. He got off and just went to the nearest staircase, ignoring the signs that would have put him closer to where he wanted to go.
The fragrances of filed steel, perfumes, sweat, breath, and desperation clung to him like warring auras and followed him outside.
There was a time he loved it all.
He emerged from the station, breathing deep, eyes adjusting to the sunlight, taking in the scene before him: human zip lines still walked at a frenetic pace, as if the sidewalks would disappear if they took too long to get to the next block.
He took in the street view, a concrete canyon filled with high caves of glass and steel, glinting in the sun when the clouds passed.
He was grateful for the shade, even in intervals.
All the nations of the world were here, and he tried not get too distracted by the skirts, sundresses, and top-button-loosed blouses on the smartly made up, vibrant women of those nations that walked with determined purpose, on their way to make that purpose known.
He took another look around. This was a city where an impromptu concert or a gunfight could break out any second.
Smiling, he’d had a destination in mind when he got here, but he’d forgotten where it was and why he needed to be there.
Fading away, just like the old haunts…
Stepping out into the flow and rhythm of the street, he was glad that even though all he knew and loved about the place was in the past, and he would walk these long blocks slower than ever before, the vibrancy of the place was still infectious, and he began to hum a medley of songs about the city he’d once called home.
He could leave it behind all he wanted, but he knew in his heart’s core, it would never leave him.