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Midnight in a Perfect World                                       Holly Coleman





Music is a time machine. All is have to do is hear some of DJ Shadow’sEndtroducing.....” My first apartment. The Bourbon Street-looking building. Our balcony, third floor corner.


Sitting in the kitchen, on the booth we bought from St. Vincent de Paul, bumping some DJ Shadow.

In the dark, the only light is the strobe that is set to SLOW. Smoke swims through the light beams.


Steve shows us how to levitate, like David Blaine. It looks so realistic in the flashing light. We make him levitate again and again. Johnny spider-walks in the doorway. His hands are free to rest behind his head.

Looking like Huck Finn. Chilling in the doorframe. On a cloud.


Building steam with a grain of salt, a gas mask is being passed around. The wearers all inhale and fly away to the land of red chili pepper lights. The smell of Trojan Pizza carries up from the first floor on Lowrie Street, bleeding into the cushions of the couch. We cancel the order saying, “We are going to be late for Midnight Mass.”


What does your soul look like at 1:30 in the morning? Sitting on the papasan, spinning around and around. Don’t look in the mirror when you are tripping. You will go crazy.


No cable TV, no internet, no text messages. Only cordless phones and pagers. I’m downstairs! Let me into the party! I heard you had good drugs up there! I will scale this wall like Spiderman! We watch McDunna try to climb his way up from Uncle Bill’s Tavern to the third floor.


It’s the money. Counting ‘shrooms on the kitchen island. The drunk priest shows up and says he has to confiscate the stems, before he grabs a mouthful.


Tell us the ghost stories of Troy Hill. Tell us about the spirits in the chapel, the dead saints who want released. We got a phone call from the old house. It was torn down a decade ago. I heard his dead voice on the answering machine. He is with you always.



Coleman illustration



Our dads want to stay all night and party. We find them passed out in their cars, in the funeral parking lot, with their engines running, listening to Metallica. Mutual Slump.


Beer run, to fill up the milk jug, $225. Ruthie will even seal it for you. The bathtub fills with water and an empty 2-liter, gravity hitting. Lightheaded floor splitting. King tightropes out the balcony, and hangs above Lowrie Street. Swinging above the buses doing their last run. Organ donor.


Web sticks his head out of the window from across the street, and tosses us Swedish Fish. Look at the trail!! Changeling/Transmission.


The rain comes to end the drought. We run outside and jump in the puddles. The sky cracks. The steam rises from the concrete. Jimmerz brings out a bar of soap and bathes in the street. Terry sits on the balcony every night, following the 2am parade. Fire escape to the roof for a North Side sunrise. How can we go to work when there is life to live!?


Emily and Chico round the bend. They took a trip above the hilltop. Back home for daybreak. My shift doesn’t start until noon. That’s midnight in a perfect world.

Holly Coleman lives on Troy Hill in Pittsburgh.