Read Part 1 here
Below Amelia and beyond the borders of her glass and marble version of the city, the eyes of the workers were cast in coal and ash. Those of the slums were fading out of being, becoming just blurs, wisps of subconscious, hollow. They were being emptied of dreams, emptied of light, emptied of value. They looked – with light-burned, cataracted eyes, weary and broken from too many hours in front of a forge – toward the city they had dreamed of, the one they believed in, the one they were now part of, the one now using them as a whetstone to hone itself upon. They looked upon a city alien and yet familiar; one that shared the same name, shared a people, but was separated by a wall of prosperity, an insurmountable barrier of capital value.
Rising above Frank was the very tangible feeling of success and dreams realized. Above him – wrapped in their own private worlds, curtained off from each other – lay the world of Traders and Merchants and Moguls. There was no lost space, everything was worked to perfection, commodified and able to be owned. People had become slaves to their Ikea nesting instinct, they simply filled the space given, even the ultimate consumers did not own their space. The streets were wide and clear, everything at a crisp ironed angle, a city of well pressed pants. Those who walked them did not know each other beyond image: a Trader by the scale lapel pin, an Artist by the garish socks, an Economist by the gloves, a Mogul by the hat. On the great rising monoliths movies and media played, any new information came from those gargantuan marble monoliths. The world beyond Harborside was found in those rising towers of media.
But in the slums – from the roofs of their squat and makeshift shanties – the workers could just glimpse the edges of media. Their world was full of cracked screens and secondhand news. People were cramped, the heartbeat of one encroached on the next. The global world had all but disappeared to them, where they had come from was being wrung from them as they became just another road stone in the city. The cultural identities they had brought with them, had created neighborhoods around, had found their first jobs with were bleeding away. They were becoming the masses of the city, overwhelmed by the need for money, the vast cost of living had ensnared them, had separated them and pinned them by the wings.
But the global world existed only in the harbor with the monoliths of media, with the bustle of trade, it was rich and thriving in the harbor. Money was not lacking, it seemed as if the less work one did the more money filled their coffers.
Frank was well off for a country boy, so when he docked in the sand of the fish market – the only place his little decrepit rented dinghy could -he was sure he could do anything he could possibly hope for. As he jumped from the boat he sunk to the knee into rotting, bloated, sun-blistered fish waste. His nose crinkled, What a welcome. He trudged upward into the city, tapping his breast pocket with a light rhythm. As he reached the paving stones his tapping ceased, he could not crane his head far enough, the city just kept going. The longer he stared the more his past months at sea ebbed away with the tide; his past was being drowned out by the sounds, the smells, and the people. The city was made of individuals from the ground, Frank was just another one of them, just another in a sea of people striving to flourish as themselves, he was just dressed a little more shabbily, a little more wide eyed, a little more idealistic, he was just a little bit poorer, he was just woefully unprepared. So he set out to wander the city, to find himself, or lose himself.