From City of God:

Fade in . . . . . . . .

The fires are framed by darkness now, the bodies of helicopters swooping above them turning into black phantoms as evening’s last light goes out of the sky. In the distance beyond the phantasmal stilts of searchlight beams, a low grid of sprawl oozes out from the city. Lines of traffic slither along loops of beltway. Past power plants, malls, and torched residential districts. Past toxic waste recycling stations and armories. On toward constellations of glowing, clustered subdivisions. Nearby, windows in office towers brighten like candle flames. Small trash fires surrounded by shadowy rings of huddled figures are scattered along the street below. Ghost buses with iron-gated windows pass by, sizzling images advertising liquor, radio stations, crisis hot lines, cable TV sex, and designer-brand ammunition affixed to each side, their bright interiors empty except for the driver in bulletproof vest and riot helmet. At an intersection a mercury vapor lamp arcs over the curb, draping a tank and its crew in a urine-colored cone of light. Cars, the few that appear, ignore traffic signals.

Down the elevator and out through the building’s pristine atrium comes Julia, heading home after a day in Hate Crimes. It is late. The spray of the indoor fountains is the only sound. Everyone has gone home except for the reception desk guards, and janitors who hang suspended by harnesses from the domed glass ceiling, misting Rapunzel ferns that spill down alongside terraced restaurants and automatic teller machines, the codependency temple and health club, the combination hair stylist, mind gym, and takeout koan shop.

The far side of the shatterproof glass doors brings a charged, mucosal air teeming with invisible grit. Ahead, beyond the plaza’s commissioned sculpture—four working televisions carouseling above a rusted flatbed covered with dirt clods, charred hay, and human-shaped rib cages made of wrought iron—Mish, the East European refugee and head of nighttime security, waits for her, speaking into a walkie-talkie. As Julia comes close, he rehangs the radio on his belt clip and waves her on, checking to his left, the direction they will be walking. Then he turns back to her, smiling, nodding, saying hello in some derivative Germanic tongue she doesn’t understand, though he never seems bothered by this. It is their ritual, the ground of unknowing on which they meet.