The Street Sweepers

Avatar Author: jesteram I like to hit 1,024 exactly. Read Bio

Nobody sees this side of the city but us: The donut-shop owners starting their machines. The street walkers who didn’t catch the right eye. The lonely taxi drivers making circles around the park. The staggering drunks. The beat cops. The street sweepers.

We see the stuff the rest of you don’t. The stuff you leave behind in the gutters, the stuff hidden under a million trampling feet until the bars close and the traffic lights cycle over empty intersections. The trash. The secrets.

There are bills—tens, twenties, fifties. There are whole wallets. Playbills and stuffed animals and shopping lists. There are bullets. Condoms. There are photos of smiling families. Takeout menus. Joints. Wedding rings.

And there’s more: Hastily scrawled chalk symbols that cats won’t cross. Shadows with no one to make them. Silver dishes of milk and blood left on fire escapes.

And once, a single golden feather that floated up and caught the moonlight until it was just the flashing of another plane leaving for anywhere but here.

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Comments (19 so far!)

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  1. Avatar Oy

    Hmm… Inriguing…

  2. Avatar Spiderj

    Great last paragraph. I was almost disappointed when things took a turn for the fantastic because it’s rare to see something real on here, but I think my initial reaction was poor.

    “And there’s more” is a great segueway that finds the wonderful in the mundane.

  3. Avatar jesteram

    Yeah, I’ve been telling myself to write more “real” lately, but I saw the “Urban Fantasy” challenge and couldn’t resist.

  4. Avatar Skull Man

    I’d swap “joints” with “wedding rings” because really, it’d be more shocking to find a wedding ring

    this is a great story, you have a powerful voice that really makes the impossible seem real

  5. Avatar Spiderj

    …and only after I saw your comment did I actually notice that it’s part of a challenge.

    More fool me.

    I admire the restrained fantasy elements even more now.

  6. Avatar Mighty-Joe Young (A.K.A Strong Coffee)(LoA)

    this was chilling it sounded like a monologue that paul newman might do in some elia kzan film that was never made

  7. Avatar ALRO613 (LoA)

    This is really “film-noir’ish” which i love!

    The stuff you leave behind in the gutters, the stuff hidden under a million trampling feet until the bars close and the traffic lights cycle over empty intersections.

    Makes for a really lonely picture .. i loved that line!

  8. Avatar jesteram

    @Skull Man: You are so right. Done and done.

  9. Avatar Quetzi

    An interesting, and very civilian take on the ideas of urban fantasy. It’s nice to see the sort of urban fantasy that doesn’t rely on a magical prodigy living in the modern world, certainly a breath of fresh air.

    I would love to see where that golden feather leads, and who of this world manages to follow.

  10. Avatar Ronnie

    So good! I love how nothing is explained, just an understood part of this reality! :D

  11. Avatar Marli

    Reality on the seedy path of life. I enjoyed the" noir".

  12. Avatar Paddy Festus

    I like this scene, it does sound like a voice over to the start of a movie, a good old fashioned black & white with a hard boiled detective. The language does it for me.

  13. Avatar halfpenny

    The pacing in this is great…the fragments really set off the longer sentences. I also love the flow of the “we” sentences dissolving into impersonal description and wrapping up again with the hint of someone escaping. Well done.

  14. Avatar falconesse

    Excellent imagery here.

    I know it would kill the 1024, but I feel like the last “there are” (before “photos of smiling families”) could go… but I can also see why it’s there. On one hand, repeating it reinforces the staccato rhythm of that paragraph. On the other, it halts the momentum built up by the sentences before it and makes you start building the tension again.

    “Silver dishes of milk and blood left on fire escapes.” Very neat mix of the magic and mundane, here.

    Nicely done!

  15. Avatar A Dabble of Thelonious

    Love it, Jester. Short, sweet and mixes reality with fantasy without overdoing it.

  16. Avatar N555champ & X-Ninja

    Very, very good. I would definitely take the wallets tho, not just “see” them.

  17. Avatar OwsleyBear

    Until you are one of the morning select you would never get to view the city like you describe. Having worked for the city and saw with my own set of eyes the havoc of a city street around daybreak, all I can say is right on. Beautiful description, every word is worthy.

  18. Avatar Fyora Cartagan

    It seems like you’ve set up a very good setting, and it’s just asking for a nice plot to match.

    Very well done.

  19. Avatar J.M.V.

    I like the mood, which seems to be the point. There’s nothing wrong with setting, which is what you’ve done here.

    I agree that it’s main draw is how you’ve dealt with the fantastic in such a mundane way.

    The phrasing feels a little off. I know it’s supposed to feel disjointed, but I think you may have overdone it a titch.

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