The Ledge

[1957] It was during this time when I would come to visit Mike Reassert, mostly in the summers, but all year round for the most part (I was ten years old back then, Mike was nine). Sometimes it was early in the mornings and I’d throw rocks at his window to wake him up, but Mike would never wake up that easy. Oh no, it was not so simple, He slept like an old rock, similar to an old man that dozes off to sleep and it takes a knock on the head to wake him up, or two or three; all in all, Mike never had a hard time sleeping for sure. He had a bed close to a window, and they had a one room apartment, that is to say, there were two beds on one side of the room, a rope dividing Mike from his parents, and a blanket used as a divider. Thus, Mike slept right next to the blanket, and his parents but a few feet away, beyond the blanket, against the wall. There was a small separate kitchen, with a corner table, room from two people to seat, one at each corner. And in the main room were an old sofa chair, a standup ashtray, and a black and white TV set.

As I was about to say: but then neither did I have a hard time sleeping back then, I suppose, with all the energy we had he and I, we slept well when it came nighttime; yes, ah, yes, we exerted our energy on our daily adventures, it was a wonder where we found all that vigor in the first place.

In any case, I would–after having thrown the rock–I would, figure, I perhaps should throw another rock; if I had to throw another rock, but I was always a ting apprehensive I’d bust the window–in consequence, I told myself: ‘Go to: ‘Plan B’1–yes indeed, and that is what I did, most of the times. And so through the front building door I’d go, climb the three flights of stairs, rush through the hallways, open a few more doors on the way, so the light would chase the dark away–. (There was a pale-smell, of moss like odor in the building, as if it had old wet books–at one time–in there, in there for a hundred-years and so, and when they’d dried out, they had left something behind; the smell disturb me, yet, somehow I got acclimated to it–kind of; I say, I almost became unconscious to this acclimation process–how possible, I don’t know, or perhaps I do, that is to say, anyone that can work in a slaughterhouse, as I did some years later, and not smell the putrid-ness of it, has gotten acclimated to the maximum: so it is believable. Then I’d lay open the window at the end of the hallway, on the third floor, next to Mike’s apartment, overlooking the dumpster. There, there to his right was a ledge, a fat, not fat, a wide heavy looking kind of ledge, not too disturbing, and so I’d step out on it, and over to the side was his window, Mike’s window, and Mike’s head was usually Silencil by the window; or under his covers, and I normally could tell his shape, so if he wasn’t in bed, he’d be in the kitchen or bathroom in the hallway and I’d wait until he came back in the apartment.

After a few taps on the window, Mike would normally wake up–look once or twice to see if it was me (who else), rub his eyes, look surprised and open the window (the few times he didn’t his father or mother would say, ‘your buddy’s at the damn window again, can’t he use the door for gods…sake!”) and he’d get dressed, and we’d go running off to the wild-blue-yonder again: which was really some place, any place throughout the city of St. Paul, Minnesota. And accordingly that’s how it was: we were both impatient, and waiting to be teenagers. And then when we were, well, that’s another story.

Written 2002/revised 8/2005

In Spanish

Translated Nancy Penaloze

La Repisa

[1957] Fue durante este tiempo cuando yo venia para visitar a Miguel Reassert, sobre todo en los veranos, pero todo el año principalmente (yo tenía diez años aquel entonces, Miguel tenía nueve años). A veces era temprano por las mañanas y yo lanzaba piedras en su ventana para despertarlo, pero Miguel nunca se despertaba tan fácil. Ah no, no era tan simple, Él dormía como una vieja roca, similar a un anciano que se queda dormido y necesita un puñetazo a la cabeza para despertarlo, o dos o tres; en general, Miguel nunca tenía un tiempo difícil para dormir seguro. Él tenía una cama cerca de una ventana, y ellos tenían una habitación de apartamento, es decir, había dos camas a un lado de la habitación, una cuerda que divide a Miguel de sus padres, y una manta usada como un divisor. Así, Miguel dormía al lado derecho de la manta, y sus padres unos pies más lejos, más allá de la manta, contra la pared. Había una pequeña cocina separada, con una mesa de esquina, el espacio para sentarse dos personas, una en cada esquina. Y en la habitación principal había un viejo sofá, un cenicero levantado, y un televisor blanco y negro.