At the City of Gold

Personal Mythology

At the City of Gold

My brother visited Albuquerque. The weather was rough as hell coming out of Chicago. He was late on account of that. I eyed the airplane he was riding on from a computer, then from my backyard when it came close. It swooped down into the Sunport about midnight. Light was coming out the windows.

For three days we rode around in a beat-up old Saab or else sat around watching movies on cable teevee. All sorts of music drifted through the car and Hamlet came on late Friday. We laughed about cigarette lighters and arrowheads. Saturday, we got into an argument but settled our shit over a couple of Allsup's burritos.

Sunday morning raced right up to us. Before he grabbed a hold of another metal bird, the sort that would loft him through the atmosphere and drop him gently back in the wintry midsection of America, he told me how he wanted to drive up to the Northeast Heights and walk around the City of Gold.

The City of Gold is where we went to high school. If you look it up, the place really is named after a mythical and golden joint where folks generally went about their lives in splendor and glory. I put in six clams worth of gas and we went up there.

Well, the mountains began to loom and the houses nestled in their shadows had magnificent trees and lawns. It was mournful quiet on the streets except for a lonesome crow, here or there, pecking at roadkill. We passed a fellow waiting on the bus at Wyoming and Menaul. I was sure he was asleep because of the way his hands were dangling at his side.

El Dorado was only sorta empty, like the wan smiles you might see on closing day at the state fair. A church meeting was going on in the theater. A loudspeaker propped open the cafeteria door. There were about seven dudes shooting baskets in the gym. An old tire was wrapped around the flagpole where some kids had pulled a prank thirty years before.

My brother and I walked to the north end of campus, a place where students had a thing called the freak wall. It used to be where all the outsiders, all the misfits, gathered to smoke, stare at the sun, and show off their long hair. Now it was just a strip of concrete. The paint was peeling off and it was lined with garbage cans.

On the south end of the City of Gold, the jock wall was not much better. Officials concerned with architectural integrity had posted "No Skateboarding" signs on just about every goddamned adjacent surface imaginable.

All of that was enough of a drink to fill us both to the brim. My brother took off ahead of me, running toward the parking lot while shouting lines from his favorite poems. I took one more look back then high-tailed it too. When we were both buckled in, he rolled down the window and spit on the ground. I revved the engine, cursed under my breath and threw the damn thing into reverse.