Nowhere To Run
(Smith Street – Photos by Joe)
Since I had witnessed Benny, “the cigar store Indian” kill a vampire last week behind the Lower East Side Pathmark, I have been tormented by a whispering voice. The first instance came moments after the cigar store Indian impaled the vampire whose name was Robert. The words came from a creature who seemed to arrive just before the death blow. Encased by a lustrous shadow, the creature was gone before either myself or Benny could make much of it.
In the days that followed, the whispers, which are almost entirely indecipherable, have the same cold, robotic tongue. Whenever I hear the voice, I cringe and feel as if the words are attached to the end of a lashing whip. They always remind me of the vampire’s death. I see the gruesome strike by Benny with a spike through Robert’s chest and hear the miserable thump it makes.
No matter how many times I replay the scene in my head, I can’t make much sense of the creature’s shape. The words it utters sound something like, “Forgive them . . . wild.”
Yesterday had provided a reprieve as I ambled along Smith Street in Brooklyn. It was a warm day, and the sun was high in a crisp, solitary blue sky. The air was filled with an enchanted scent of warm spices. I envisioned the source to be dry falafel mix that was being smoked on a charcoal grill. Coincidentally, I was on my way to Sahadi’s, a Middle Eastern fine foods store on Atlantic Avenue. It was their bread I wanted. They bake delicious multi-grain, French-style loaves. Sometimes I call ahead and order a half dozen loaves. (I freeze them.) Besides the taste and nutty aroma, the bread has a wonderful texture that makes each bite a little adventure in mastication.
By the corner of a tree-lined Sackett Street, I was passed by a woman pushing a stroller and came upon a girl just a few inches shorter than my height of 6’2”. She had a wide, puffed up mouth, and her wavy black hair looked as radiant as her well-moisturized face. Given her languid motions and elongated figure, I guessed that she was a model. She had “the deprived look.” I watched her from behind sashay off with airy steps and wondered what was attractive about her.
I took a deep whiff and detected “the spices” now had a hint of barbecue sauce. Like a cartoon character, I imagined my body aloft and floating nose-first toward Atlantic Avenue.
The playful mood didn’t last long. I spotted a man across the street who reminded me of Robert. He leaned forward with each stride and dragged his feet. His frame was angular and arms hung limply at his sides. He wore woolen slacks, a dark vest, and had his white sleeves rolled up. I diverted my gaze down the gently sloping street.
A cool gust hit me. I turned to see if someone had opened a door to an air conditioned store. Just then a sliver of darkness fell over Smith Street and the wind whispered. In my gut rose a sharp pang along with more images of the vampire’s grisly death.
A sudden lethargy came over me. It was like a silky hand closed my eyes and pulled me down to sleep. I heard what could only be described as a loving whisper. I yawned and seemed to be asleep on my feet . . .
For a moment, the street before me was rutted and full of mud like in a bygone era. The stores on both sides of the street were gone, replaced by a luminous green forest that sloped down to the harbor. The last thing I remembered before coming back to the moment, was a rose bush had popped up in my path. I stumbled around it.
Blue skies brightened all around me and my nostrils filled with the warm, spicy air. I slowly regained my bearings. I gasped!
The shriek of brakes and wail of a horn brought the moment back in full. An SUV violently skidded toward me.
I was dead!!! Life was over! All my bones were going to be shattered and a bloodied heap would be all that was left of my body.
The massive vehicle stopped and the nose jutted up at my chest that was arched back. My hands slapped down on the hood. The driver’s eyes were open wide in terror. Like myself, he too was unable to gesture or speak.
I shook like a bell though still managed to hurry off. I was not sure where I was going other than “away.” It was then that I heard someone whisper. I searched fruitlessly for the person or thing that had spoken. I knew it was my tormentor.
When he next spoke, I clearly heard the voice. It was impassioned, though still sounded like the articulation of a computer.
“If we wanted it so, you would be dead. Remember that. You would be dead.”
(Thick forest – “Nowhere to Run” inspiration)
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Twenty-Nine – May/June 2010