Dreaming of Lincoln
I met this kid who looked like Abraham Lincoln. I’m still referring to him as a kid even though he was a junior in college and 6’4.” Fresh-faced with an uncanny presence, he said his name was Alexander and that his nickname was Buddy. I called him Alex.
It wasn’t until our second meeting, when I caught him off-guard with a rousing “hello!” — that I saw the resemblance. He swung around and revealed prodigious ears. On our first meeting, he had worked to hide them in his slinky, emo-style haircut.
–Those ears! Picturing them now makes me chuckle. While it seemed as if they were the last pieces in a puzzle.
From the strong nose to the dimpled chin, to the raised hairline, and aforementioned ears, he was the mirror image of an unfledged and beardless, Abraham Lincoln.
Of all places to recognize one with the looks of such an immortal figure, we were outside Cooper Union’s Foundation Building. It was where Lincoln had given a speech that is credited with propelling him to the White House.
For a full moment, I had stood in awe on that second meeting. I half-believed Alex was young Lincoln. A thousand dreams blustered in my head.
The supernatural world was also aware of the resemblance. It’s the only way to explain errant shadows that stretched away from Alex like he was a pistil, and they were petals. While in the wind was the sound of brass horns and a lone violin.
It had seemed I was dreaming on my feet . . .
“Keep moving, don’t stop!” Alex had cried, as he swiftly led me across the street toward K-Mart on Lafayette and 8th St. He kept looking over his shoulder. “Talking to me was the first mistake,” he said, under his breath. He was referring to my blog post about our first meeting. “That title has more meaning than you might think.”
I glanced back to Cooper Union as I heard a bassoon languidly swell. “Now I hear a trumpet. Hmph!”
“It’s the band that played at Cooper Union on the night he spoke,” Alex said.
(Cooper Union’s Great Hall – place of “Lincoln Address”)
“Lincoln, you mean, the night he gave his address in 1860.”
“You’re not doing yourself any favors by using his name,” Alex said. “They might see something in you.”
“Are you him?” I asked, dumbfoundedly.
“You out of your mind!?”
“You know, maybe reincarnated?”
“I’m sorry, no,” Alex said, brushing his hair over his forehead and cheeks. “I resemble him, that’s it. That’s all.”
“Abe Lincoln,” I mouthed, thinking he would be better off wearing a hat to hide his ears. “The spirit world comes alive for you. You can see the shadows, and hear the music, too.”
“I bet I see less than you do,” Alex said, hastening his pace with gangly strides. Wrinkles surfaced on his forehead and in the corner of his eyes. His face grew darker. “I barely hear the music, and can’t tell the instruments apart like you can.”
“That’s insane, right,” I said with a stutter, trying not to notice the changes in his face. “The spirits recognize you as him. Probably remind them of when they were alive, or the time or something.”
“I think you should enjoy it,” I said, seeing the wrinkles vanish and his youthful glow return.
“You’re the one who keeps going back to Cooper Union where he gave that speech.”
(Turn of the Century Cooper Square)
“It echoes, you know,” Alex said.
“I say, enjoy it.”
He twisted his lips.
“Cut your hair, let those ears loose on the world,“ I said.
“No way!” he cried, and brushed his hair forward with both hands.
“Thank God that you don’t resemble Mayor Jimmy Walker or ‘Bill the Butcher.’ Probably be haunted by someone the Butcher killed.”
“I never thought of that,” he said, pensively. Then his eyes split wide in fear.
“What is it?”
“600,000 people died in the Civil War!”
“Don’t worry about that!” I said, dancing in front of him as I waved my hands. “We love Lincoln in NY!”
“No,” he said, spitting out the word. “Believe me, ‘they’ don’t.”
I put my hand on his back and tried to think up something positive . . .
“Ghosts can see right through you,” I said, “if you’re evil, if you have a bad soul, they’d see that. You feel no evil or malice coming from the spirits,” I said, realizing mid-sentence that I was taking a chance with my words.
“It’s more,” he said with a huff. “It’s like they want to open the door back to the 19th Century. They want me to go back.” He took a deep breath. “I can’t look away.”
“I know what you mean,” I said, slowing to mull it over.
“I’ll have to go now,” Alex said, moving ahead of me. “I have a class.”
“Call me!” I cried, “you have my card.”
He nodded with a jump in his step. My cell rang and he held up his phone to show it was him. “If I have a problem, who else would I call.”
“Good,” I said and forced a smile.
Here are the posts in this series: Episode Twenty-Five – January 2010
Around Cooper Square (Photos only)