I pull up to the light, momentarily insulated from the random bumps of my tires on the battered, broken pavement, the nearly-finished cigarette between my lips, the fifth, tenth, hundredth one of the night, roughly abrading my throat.
I stare through the fogged windshield at the glowing red sentinel looming above me as I turn the stereo up to drown out the squak box set to full volume on the seat next to me, the other driver for the night frantically trying to make sense of the dispatcher's indecipherable directions.
The relentlessly pounding bassline of some happy hardcore track, strangely comforting to me as I, run ragged from lack of sleep, struggle to stay awake at the wheel, filters out the window, drowning out the noise from the drunken patrons on the patio of the frat bar next to me, perhaps eliciting a questioning glance in my direction.
I take another drag, exhaling the burning vapor into the warm night air, then flick the butt out the window, leaving a twisting trail of smoke which rises from the faintly glowing orange spot on the street.
I watch the "don't walk" signal flash for what seems like hours before becoming solid, the lights of the cross-street turn yellow, then red. For a moment, a split second, all is still.
Suddenly, all three signals begin blinking red, and in that second, I question what I see: can this possibly be real? My foot relinquishes its tightly pressed hold on the brake, slowly rocking the accelerator downward as I leave the moment behind, forever.
I light another cigarette as I tear at an unsafe speed down the somewhat residential street under unsafe conditions, wondering how many people tonight were watching at the precise moment when some synchronization mechanism somewhere decided that traffic needn't wait more than a moments pause before crossing the street.
Does having witnessed this make me special? Should I have made a wish? It's 3 AM and I'm tired, rubbing my eyes as I speed toward my next delivery.
24th & Rio Grande