The Monkey Time

Photograph by Jose Padua
It was a minor soul ballad, though
not quite a ballad, or not a ballad at
all, that brought Billy the Kid back
to life in a dive bar downtown. Some-
one started doing a strut on the tile
floor that looked like the floor of a
church, but it wasn’t a church it was
Baltimore, on a spring evening, during
an era no one but me calls the Renais-
sance of past lives now coming back
to life when someone plays a certain
song on the jukebox. It was time to
stand up, so we stood until we were
taller than we were before, until we
felt dizzy from being so high over
the tiny names carved on the wooden
bar. All the workers from the neigh-
borhood stood up, too, to dance,
because Billy was always good
to them and was like white death
to their enemies. So many more names
were added to the wood that night,
and even more were said to have
never sat down for the rest of their
lives, and for four hours not a sip
of beer was spilled, nor drop of bourbon
wasted, by being wiped away on man
or woman’s lips by anything other
than a kiss. Until it was time, and the floor
moved closer to the dirt in our eyes
as Billy the Kid followed his footsteps
faster than a pinball machine going TILT,
and danced his way out the door, around
the corner, into a yellow tinted mist of rain.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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