At first, it seems like laughter, rising from the street below, trickling through his window like wind chimes, free and reckless.
But then, he is standing, despite pending deadlines, and crossing the room, almost against his will. Peering down. Beckoned.
And they are everywhere: like modern-day Sirens, singing for his eyes, a harmony of summer dresses and bare shoulders and long, tan legs, and toes painted brightly.
He nods to his weakness; they are not satisfied.
Now he crosses the room again, forgotten all previous tasks, no match for what calls from beneath. He descends as though summoned.
Outside, he can breathe their song, too, taste their melody of fruit-sweet perfume and sun-warmed, just-washed hair. He feels the air change as they pass. He holds his breath.
And they smile at him. Seem to smile at him, in his nice suit and crisp shirt and pastel tie. Maybe they are smiling at everyone. Every man. Or maybe they are just smiling to themselves, smiling at this strange summer world where they hold their fledgling non-innocence, in one hand like a secret, in the other like a bludgeon…
Enough. Back to work. No good can come from this sitting here. This smiling. This holding of breath.
The festivities extend past evening’s shadow. The revelers laugh gaily, joke loudly, the night itself more intoxicating than anything they are drinking. He hears other music. Pictures dancing.
It is late now. Dark now. Even though it is summer, it is late now. Dark now.
No more work tonight.
Heading for his car, they spill, still, into the evening, these night sprites, midnight fairies, eyes aglow. He has no mast, no soul. He is never more than one “hey, can I buy you a drink?”, one “excuse me, would you like to dance?” away from disaster.
They call to him, call to him, call to him…
He hurries home. Kisses sleeping babies. Slips chastely into bed, and whispers: “I am clean, I am clean.”