Cold Weather (Part One) – by Lori Carson

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by Lori Carson

Lori Carson is a singer-songwriter and novelist whose albums include: Shelter, Where it Goes, Everything I Touch Runs Wild, Stars, House in the Weeds, and Another Year. A former member of the seminal band, Golden Palominos, she has contributed music to the soundtracks of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, Keith Gordon’s Waking the Dead, and others. Carson’s debut novel, The Original 1982, was published by William Morrow/Harper Collins in June 2013. Ms. Carson is the founding editor of 3 a.m. analog.

Snow continued to fall even as the sun broke through. It was the coldest winter in years, the kind of winter that made Owen wonder why he still lived in the north-eastern part of the United States when he could have lived anywhere: New Orleans, or San Diego, or Santa Fe, where he was from. So many warmer places to live yet he continued to wake up, walk the dogs, drink his coffee in New York City as he had for more than twenty years. Rain and Coyote were old dogs now. They sniffed at all the places other dogs had been and marked their territory in the snowdrifts. “Good boy,” Owen told Coyote, and Rain turned to look at him as if offended. “You too, Rain,” he said. Dogs were sensitive but quick to forgive. They puttered on, tails wagging.

The neighborhood was quiet at 7 a.m., full of smoke shops and rug stores, not open yet. Sometimes Owen took the dogs down to Madison Square Park but that morning it was just once around the block, long enough to smoke a cigarette before his fingers lost feeling. He took a final drag and flicked it into the street, thinking he would quit again soon. The dogs led him back to the ancient loft building on East Thirtieth Street, its lobby oddly wallpapered with massive green palm leaves like the Vietnamese restaurant on Lafayette Street where he had met Liz, one of the pretty waitresses who worked there. It occurred to him, not for the first time, that part of the reason he even lived in that building was because of the feeling the lobby wallpaper gave him. It made him think of her. He had looked for Liz on Facebook, a few years back, in fact had only joined to look for her, but she wasn’t there. It worried him then, and still worried him, because Liz had been a social butterfly when he knew her. He hoped it didn’t mean she was dead.

Coyote had arthritis in his back legs and couldn’t make it up the stairs anymore, so the three of them waited for the slow rickety elevator, watching its illuminated numbers go up and then ever so slowly come back down.

After the dogs were walked, he made coffee. It was his favorite part of the day: the freshly brewed smell of it, the relative quiet of the hour. If spring ever came, there would be birds singing outside his window. He thought about how much he liked the sound of birds. The radiator hissed and clanked and he chuckled because it was a far cry from birdsong. His place was pretty funky. The old plaster walls needed a paint job and he didn’t have hot water half the time. But as an office, it worked fine. Incoming calls and texts started at about eleven-thirty, requests for weed, vape pellets, and hash. He carried some baked goods too; the brownies were big sellers.

The first year, he’d spent all day on the subway, traveling back and forth from deepest Brooklyn to uptown Manhattan, but he only made deliveries to big customers now. Mostly, people came to him. Some of them knew him as a musician. They recognized him, or heard about him in advance. Probably there were conversations behind his back. “Hey, did you hear that Owen Ash is dealing weed now?” Not that he cared. They’d seen him play guitar like a god in the clubs downtown; had bought his records and written him fan letters. They were cool about it, and so was he. Nobody ever said anything disrespectful to his face. Maybe they understood that making a living wasn’t easy now, not that it ever had been really. He still had his practice room in Chinatown but hardly got there anymore. He was putting away three grand a week. The only time he’d ever made that kind of money playing music was as a sideman, touring with a headliner who could fill a place, not some little shit-hole on the Lower East Side, but a real venue in Tokyo, or Amsterdam, or Sydney. Touring was fun, but it was his own projects that he had lived for. The records he had made were still classics in some circles, not that they’d ever paid the bills. He thought he would probably never make another record again and, if he did, certainly never one as good.

On the table, his phone began to vibrate. He glanced at his watch. It was eleven-thirty on the dot. He picked up the phone. “This is Owen. How can I help?”

To continue reading, follow link to Amazon: Cold Weather (Part One)

Categories: First Issue

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