Bells over my right shoulder. I glance over, startled to spy a stout, charcoal-skinned grandma in full gypsy garb, hobbling off the curb just as the Conch Tour Train rattles up to the light. She leaps nimbly backwards, the fluid motion in surprising contrast. She lifts her fist and shouts, face contorting as though uttering a curse. The train rambles around the corner. A tall broad-shouldered… woman? adorned in a floral, foo-foo tutu and flowing hot pink boa hung out the door of the train, shouting back to a thick-chested man leaning against the back window sporting a leather bustier, one thigh-high booted leg draped casually down the side of the car. The passenger-laden train is practically bursting with men outfitted in a rainbow of feminine fashions from antebellum to Harlem harlot. A rowdy rooster struts down the sidewalk, ostensibly unaware that dawn is long past, his squawks punctuating the human cacophony. A swimsuit clad couple, sporting matching full-body tattoos, brattles by on bicycles, weaving in and out of idling traffic.
“… more like a carnival.” I ease my vice grip on the wheel, clicking the red ruby slippers of memory. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
Involuntarily, yet necessarily drawn to the water, I drive. Past the turn in to an abandoned bar where, once upon a time . . ; past palm and pond; past bougainvillea and banyan; and finally, past the fort . . . past the past.
Bread crumb colored shoreline nearly deserted.
The gulf breeze tousles my hair
I come to myself, agape…