Beauchamp Along the Boulevard

Coming home after dark I like to follow the alleyways. There is something engagingly candid in these backsides of buildings, as though I have stolen behind the velvet curtain and peep and pry among the greasepaint and the stockings and the hoists. Along the alley I peer into kitchens and hallways, into stairwells and dens. Then I see the interior life of a family, and not the public face it presents in living rooms and foyers.

Occasionally I see a scene to break my heart, when two people think themselves unobserved by all the world. I have seen along the alleyway two men fighting with knives and an old woman silently crying to herself. I have seen a small child methodically kicking a dog into unconsciousness. We are not always lovely, we humans.

But then I see scenes of ineffable beauty, too. A man and a woman laughing, her head bent over his shoulder as he reads. Two girls constructing some arcane engine upon the hearth rug. An old couple, withered and bent with passage of time, locked together with all the fervor of newlyweds. From these scenes I turn away. Our private joys should remain private, inviolate and unmarked.