Weather Report: Portland, Oregon

“Got a cigarette by chance, Boss?” The kid steps through the train from behind me, puffing steam. I look up and shake a no. My brain automatically tallies up the time since my last smoke – two years? Two-and-a-half? Something like that. I was — just 15 minutes ago — strolling behind a fellow with a lit cigarette, matching my stride to his for a brief moment, in order to sniff the sweet-scented air that he trailed in his wake. This kid on the MAX doesn’t understand the significance of his question. He sucks his teeth at me and moves to the other end of the car.

It’s pleasantly warm in here. They heat these trains. It’s like a public service that they provide along with the cheap transportation.  I appreciate it. It’s fuckin’ cold outside. Waiting for the train, I stood on the platform with my back to the wind, facing down the stream of traffic. I watched a bicycle pass a car on the right, in the middle of an intersection, over the slick, metal MAX tracks. His flickering red tail-light was still visible two blocks away. That seems pretty safe.

The doors open at each stop and the fluid that moistens my eyeballs freezes in the icy blast of outside air. I have to blink a few times to thaw them out.

All day today people were talking about snow. It was forecast for last night, but it didn’t come. The meteorologists called it for this evening, between four and five. It didn’t come then either. I heard someone say that they were predicting snow by ten o’clock tonight. It’s 9:54 now, and let me tell you… it’s not snowing, but it’s cold.

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