The paint on the metal railing is peeling. I look past it, over the revolving-bed hotels, by-the-week tenements, abandoned shipping terminals, to the sea.
Calm today, the gray water fades into a hazy, blurred horizon, signaling an overcast morning marked by the unbearable heat and humidity of midsummer.
The weather encourages my lethargy, and I free my mind to wallow in reminiscence: my wife, long gone to a new life; my children, adopted by the man who replaced me; my sister, dead by her own hand. I am alone.
I think of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams. Men like me. Men who gloried in the fame and riches of success; men who drowned themselves in alcohol as they awaited death in big-city hotel rooms.
However, I am impatient. The monkey on my back is too heavy.
Again, I notice the peeling paint as I swing my legs over the railing. My only regret is that I fall from the fire escape of the seedy Hotel l’Alsace and not from a penthouse balcony at the Ritz.