In My Head
(Bald Punk – Photo by T)
On the way home from Jeremy’s Ale House I had an all-too-real daydream about turn-of-the-century Coney Island and a juxtaposed slave ship that was sailing into NY Harbor. The ghost of a slave named Hardy had literally reached out to me from the bowels of the ship. His hand blotted out the lights of Coney . . .
Home from Jeremy’s Ale House, I stood for quite some time in the hallway outside my apartment. A dull ache in my head had replaced the beer-buzz. Eyes transfixed on the tarnished brass knob, the click of a latch from a neighbor’s door prompted me to blink.
I had blacked out on the subway and couldn’t remember walking from the station to my apartment.
When I opened the door, I anticipated Scrappy D springing up my leg and into my arms. He barked but didn’t come. Someone had him in their clutches when I needed him.
All the lights were on as was the TV and even the radio in the kitchen. I didn’t look up, though could feel more than just the stares of my three roommates.
In my mind’s eye, I could just see Hardy’s hand. It was still extended to me.
(Scrappy Doodles – Photo by Bald Punk)
Afoot and moving closer, my lady friend(LF) asked, “Would you like some pizza?” She angled her head so her eyes met mine. Her expression seemed to say, “lift your head and say hello to everyone.”
On my lips was a guttural, Homer Simpson-esque plea for beeeeeeeeer. I collapsed onto the couch in a way that only a man can.
My LF hovered. She looked pretty in all-black.
“Can I have a beer?” I asked.
“If you want something to drink—”
“–come in the kitchen.”
Only then I saw my LF’s niece and nephew were squished shoulder-to-shoulder in the recliner at the other end of the couch. They were transfixed on a PBS kids show that I had DVR’d for them. My LF and her sister have a thing about adults getting trashed “drinking” around kids.
Seated with their backs high at the kitchen table were the pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts). My eyes made the mistake of looking directly at them. They reminded me of two peacocks, proud of their colorful feathers. It was their shadows on the walls and their vacantly absurd gazes.
I leaned back and saw the thin frame of Benny, “the cigar store Indian.” He was also at the table. Well into his seventies, at that moment he had the look and seeming deportment of an eager schoolboy.
His eye color and the shape of his face has changed from time-to-time. I only discovered it after reading an earlier post here where I had described his face as “elongated.” Now it’s closer to oval-shaped. My LF doesn’t agree with me on this. Good thing I have this blog as proof.
I rose from the couch, feeling as if I was pushing myself up out from a hole. I had planned on ignoring Benny as I invariably do num and nuts, but it irked me that he ignored me first. The slight man had an all-purpose smile on his face, and his eyes were noncommittal.
I passed with a grumble and cracked open the refrigerator.
(Kitchen – Photo by Bald Punk)
I popped open an icy Silver Bullet and gazed at the kitchen cabinets. Mmmmmmmmmm beeeeeeeeer.
The counter-top radio was on low. The LCD read “91.5.”
Minutes later I found myself opening another beer. I glanced to my friends at the table. The pizza delivery guy had Scrappy locked in his forearm. I didn’t feel like “breaking their space” to get him.
“Benny was telling us all about British ghost soldiers that are camped on Staten Island,” my LF said. “He’s talked with some of them. Many still think it’s the summer of 1776.”
“The less I know the better,” I said, leaning on the counter. High-browed, I eyed Benny. “Old man you screwed up when you told me there was more than just music ghostly playing out on the streets. Because of you, I hear other crap now. So thanks, thanks for a big fat zero.”
“Baldie!” my LF cried as she stood and gathered some empty dishes. “After all Benny has done for you!”
“I told you the truth,” Benny said evenly.
I coughed up some beer. “Anything harder?” I said to my LF. “Mix up some drinks.” I looked into her eyes to determine her mood. “No?”
“What’s wrong?” my LF said, her eyes on me though her brows somehow pointed to her niece and nephew.
“Why do you always have to ask that?” I said, knowing full well she knows when and when not to ask me such a question.
“You’re shaking,” Benny said.
“Oh, don’t you start,” I said, and looked to the curtained window for a second, before I turned back to the old man. “Did you know what was going to happen tonight and come here on purpose?”
“Shhhh!!!” my LF said.
“You knew to be here!” I said, squaring my gaze on Benny. “Say it! You came here because you knew something was going to happen to me tonight.”
“I invited him last Sunday,” my LF said. “You were there.”
I didn’t have to look at num and nuts–the peacocks–to know they were nodding.
“I even ate some pizza,” Benny said, referring to the fact that I’ve often wondered aloud why he will never eat food when offered. After all, he’s homeless and they always accept food.
“Well, I don’t believe you ate, because I didn’t see it,” I said.
He lifted the crust from a slice of pizza and took a bite.
“Okay then, I stopped at a bar in the Seaport for beer with my friends and when I came out, Hardy’s ghost was there in the shadows, waiting for me.”
“Hardy’s one spirit you want on your side.” Benny said. “That’s a very good sign.”
“I think he waved to me to come into his cloud or follow him or something. I have no idea. But I turned away.”
“Hardy might not make the offer again,” Benny said.
“No, he might not, but I don’t think it matters,” I said, as a subtle knot in my stomach tightened. I was nervous and afraid, not sure what exactly had happened with Hardy. Especially because it seemed he wasn’t done with me yet.
“What do you mean?” my LF asked.
I looked her square in the face. I could tell her almost anything. It was her eyes.
“Baldie?” she said sweetly.
I turned away and wiped my eyes.
“It’s why Benny’s here, because he knows, but he doesn’t know,” I said, trying to mask my fear. “Why should I tell him? Now I have something–I know something that the great, Benny, ‘the cigar store Indian’ doesn’t. I know how Hardy operates.”
My LF had tears in her eyes. Her cheeks were ruddy.
“Expect the spirits to come and ask what you’ve learned tonight about Hardy,” Benny said, in laudatory tone.
“See!” I cried, and gave a near-violent swipe of my hand. “I was right. He’s trying to scare it out of me.”
“You are such a stupid jerk,” my LF said in a low voice, either not hearing what Benny said or just not coming to the same understanding I had.
Scrappy D arrived at my feet. I lifted him and buried my head in his side. Everything about him is great.
“I don’t know where, I don’t know how,” I said, lifting Scrappy over my face and looking deep into his eyes. “Hardy took me someplace.” I lowered the little guy and held him against my chest like he was a football. “I remember leaving the bar and going straight to the subway and coming home. Yet Hardy drew me out of body. It’s a blur. He also talked to me, but his words were barely a whisper, maybe not meant to be heard.”
I watched the old man lean back, his right hand rubbing his chin, and thought of the time months ago when we had driven him to Staten Island in order to learn about Hardy. I couldn’t imagine him taking the ferry just to see those British ghost soldiers, so I inquired, “How did you get to Staten Island to talk with those lobster-backs?”
“To talk with a spirit, one need not be in their presence,” Benny replied.
“You’re an idiot,” I said, and spent the next few hours trying to grasp Hardy’s words that echoed quietly in my head.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Twenty-Seven – March 2010 (Feat: Ghost of a Slave named Hardy)
Church of St Andrew’s – Staten Island (Photos only)