Photo by Joe McLaughlin/

He might be a character in a movie. Maybe someone who’s sitting in the shadows of a Tom Waits lyric or a Charles Bukowski poem,  the lonely middle-aged guy who’s sitting alone at a booth in the back of the bar. And it’s nighttime, and there’s music playing on a jukebox, and the guy’s nursing his drink, pretending like he’s waiting for someone. But then he leaves — alone — and returns to his room at some anonymous hotel, The guy stays on the phone until the wee hours. There’s a snowstorm turning into a blizzard outside. He gazes out the window and watches cars and trucks slipping and sliding slowly along the New Jersey Turnpike. Then he tries to fall asleep, and he does, but a loud conversation in the second-floor hallway at 4 in the morning awakens him, and the guy rolls over in the king-sized bed and there’s no one on the other side, and he’s thinking of the song which asks “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks/ while we’re trying to be so quiet? We’re sitting here stranded/though we’re all doing our best to deny it…” But then dawn breaks and the guy’s thinking it’s all about faith. And so his instructions say please send this bouquet quickly, direct from my heart to her heart, which I could hear beating softly but clearly faraway in the night, her heart which is so warm that it can melt the deepest snow.


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