I’m walking back from State street in Schenectady. The evening is warm, but there’s breeze that justifies the cardigan sweater I wear more for security than warmth. The street is quiet in direct contrast to the busy stirring of addicts attempting to get one more and the parade of tired middle class workers heading in to Stewart’s to get that quart of milk their partner reminded them to get before they came home.
Me, I’m slightly oblivious. Here but not here when this voice, a soprano on a bicycle glide easily by on the opposite side of the street. He (I believe it is a he) pulls his bike to the side to make adjustments. He stops his song only briefly before remounting the bike. I pick up my pace be cause I want to take in more of that voice. I’m not even sure he’s singing in English which enhances my need to draw closer to this beautiful foreign sound. There has not been much sweet about my stay here, so this voice is welcome company. It floats in padded claps from across the street as a feather released to the world from a bird that no longer needed it.
I find myself increasing my pace even more. There is a light. He stops. “Thank God” I think. He stops. We are direct opposites. Him where I want to be, me where he is headed. I gaze at this small man. He is adjusting again, and opts not to remount his bike before crossing the street. The light changes. I stand firm, because I wish to encounter him in a safe place. He is coming toward me. He lets out just a note or two. I am disappointed because I want to be swallowed whole by the sweetness of his singing. I wanted to drown in it. Instead there is a light misting. I’ll take it. As he approaches. His face becomes thinner as if drawn by a sketch artist learning about the function of line. His hands are dainty clasped around the handle bares of the bike. He is in front of me and much to my amazement. He is a woman.
She doesn’t look up at me. She frees a note or two from the bottom of her throat. Then while looking past me she says:
“The Bible is telling the truth. You aren’t listening.”
In three more steps. She and her bike are a memory. Behind me. I unthaw and step carefully across the street, trying to understand what just happened. Trying to remember the voice. Trying to piece together the whole story.