History is a truth that in the long run becomes a lie, whereas myth is a lie that in the long run becomes truth. — Jean Cocteau.
When we were second to no one
Not even clergy stood between us and God. Only we could make groin vaults, domes and buttresses, without which — without us — the masses wouldn't come to hear His word. They'd huddle at home, away from the cold wind and rain that only He could make. We were architects. Creators. We were second to no one. When we lived six hundred years ago.
When we were second to many
In 1991 our patron saint was the U.S. military, which —without us — would find another handful of architects — wearing corduroy sport coats, turtlenecks, round black glasses and pleated slacks, squeezed into some other subterranean office in some other city — to design thirty-six warehouses.
When not serving our master
We took what our basement office windows gave us, a worms-eye view of things better than our own: shoes, pants, calves, places to be. If not better, different: a white leather coat, white leather boots, and a gap of pale skin in between.
When she comes now now
Her gait was mechanical, more rusty than robotic. Gerald called her a transvestite. Brian called her a fag. Eric and the other Brian called her a freak. Carl and I, the student interns, called her Nico, of The Velvet Underground fame, because of how she sang in deep, German-accented English. When her renditions of Sinatra or Doo-wop faded out, I heard Lou Reed's voice fade in. Now, if she ever comes now now, if she ever comes now now, if she ever comes now-w-w.
—She lives above the 7-Eleven, Carl said to me.
—Is that so.
—Gets coffee at Café de Marché.
—Good to know.
—She's a Mengele baby.
When Carl and I took a walk
Carl's math seemed right — Nico was probably born in the early 1940s — as well as his amateur ethnography — German born, exceptionally Aryan. But it was her "defects" that convinced him she was born from Nazi fertilization experimentation.
—What defects, Carl?
—Go to the cafe and you'll see.
I didn't believe Carl, but believing wasn't the problem. The problem was being nineteen and wanting to believe Carl.