He was no older than twenty yet he intimately knew a half-dozen major cities and was unable to live in any of them. He loved them all, but when he left them, he left them for good, keeping the texture of the air, the smell of the streets, the majesty of the skylines in his blood. The same blood that sometimes rushed into him, temporarily paralyzing him with a memory that was the essence of each of his beloved cities. The very same blood that flushed him so thoroughly that he was no longer himself when he touched the summit of the cities peaks, the horizon where man ended and also began.
He was considered beautiful by many. His seemingly impulsiveness for adventure and imaginative excursions as much a reason as his wiry boy body, fine youthful face and expressive eyes. Eyes that were tormented and panicky when he was constrained and inert. Sorrowful when he was locked into an eight hour day. Overpowering when he was ascending vertical concrete mountains, steel pillars, glass expanses; bounding across rooftops as if he were leaping puddles.
He kept the company of the young, walked among them as a silent confidant, his presence satisfying for them as they partied and drank into the early mornings. His sobriety refreshing among all the rampant attempts at intoxication. He would say things only once to a comprehending ear. He would offer them chances to retreat from enclosed walls, squares and rectangles filled with the impersonal items of others. Take them to a world of geometric planes at extreme degrees of incline, towers, rockets, ramparts, awesome creations built by the obsessions of men to go skyward under these eternal skies. Showing them that it was their communal right to such things. They would follow him, if they were brave enough, into the skylines of the cities, animated gothic creatures smiling down on the streets, elated far beyond any drug. And when he left, many continued to scale the cities skyline.
He seemed to draw visitors to him, people new to the city usually girls who would see him perched on the back of a bus bench like a human bird or walking along the edge of a wall, high above the commuters, the homeless, the city people. They would approach him, feeling they had nothing to lose in a place they would be leaving soon, introduce themselves, say a few words to him, and follow him as far as they could into the night.
His demeanor seemed to bring out a nurture instinct in the young women he met, as if under their care for the night he could be made whole, the melancholy tinge to his eyes extinguished, and they, in return made a part of his obsession to be in motion.
He was always in motion, going somewhere, doing something. He always seemed to be at the highest point in a room, cross-legged on the back of a couch or the top of a kitchen counter. He could insert himself among the most fragile items and never break a thing, climb the tallest; the most unsteady furniture with little more than a slight sway at his ascension. Where he was made uncomfortable by those who found his need to place himself at the highest elevation odd or improper, he simply didnt return. No fuss of any kind. He would just leave.
He spoke little and his need for elevation only subsided when he would climb whatever structure had called to him each night. There he would become pensive and contemplate his place in the city. At these times, up on the roof or ledge of some building overlooking the city like a wizards tower he would become talkative and send ripples of the sweetest feeling through his companions with his words and gestures. He was like some grand conductor, his symphony the night winds, his orchestra the sky.
"Humans are so amazing," he would usually begin. "Building such monumental worlds." They would look out at the lights and shadowy masses of the city, a view they would have never seen if he had not lead them here and they would know what he said was true.
Whether his companions happened to be male or female, they wanted to be close to him, to touch him, to gel themselves to the moment that he was.
He never gave voice to doubt, ugliness, sorrow, though he felt it all, but at these times he saw the beauty in everything. High above both the artificial and natural worlds, he saw the beauty in everything.
He had very little interest in vehicles, manufactured crafts, planes, helicopters, escalators, elevators, even if they could take him to amazing places. He distrusted these things, their inhuman speed and false sense of travel. If he couldnt get there with his own muscle and nerves, all other experiences paled like some vast indistinguishable horizon.
He found it hard to understand people, though he loved them for what they created, whether with words, voice, or by hand.
He enjoyed the pleasures of women, but couldnt understand those he had met so far. How they would give their bodies to him with very little prompting, and then snap and gnaw at him when they perceived his absorption in liberty as indifference towards them. The very same thing that once attracted them seemed to repel them as well. Frustrated they would say things like, "I thought we had somethingI thought we had this connection."
"We do," he would reply, though the precise nature of the connection was one that the girls seemed to be unable to esteem.
"You dont seem to care if Im around anymore," they might continue.
And he would answer. "Im sorry if Im treating you differentlyI dont mean to."
He made no promises, no commitments, and when one was posed to him he would say, "Why would you want this?" To which they would describe the filaments of their emotions with talk of his kindness, his gentleness, his capacity for feeling. Then he would ask truly shaken, "Why would you want to do this to me?"
Sometime later they would realize that their sexuality, their passions, their person could not contain him, and they would let him go.
He never seemed pompous or stilted using words others would scar with pretension, for him these words left his lips like song.
He never lied. Caring too much for things to mar them.
He never asked for anything from them, and he offered much. What they did for him, they did out of admiration and love for what they didnt know. When they spoke about a longing to do something he urged them to do it. "Create . . ." he would say ecstatically.
When he would approach a mammoth structure he would lay his palms against the brick or stone, metal or glass, feel the texture of its skin, kiss its tiny pores with his lips, and it would take him, open up for him, allow him to climb its sheerest surfaces, hold him tight when the crosswinds threatened to dislodge him, let him surmount its most extreme degrees.
And anytime he heard about the death of some young artist he would scale the tallest summit in whichever city he happened to be in and shout their name to the sky welcoming them home, while mourning the loss for those below.
Long after he would leave their cities, they would continue to create for him. Write poems about an urban angel, paint his image scaling the Tower of Babel, reaching the heavens, where God would smile and draw him into Himself.