Thursday, July 7, 2022

Empty Spaces

(Scrappy Doodles – Photos by Joe)

My gloved hand along with a red leash was outstretched to Scrappy D, who had led the way into the northeast corner of Central Park. Splayed out in front of us was the Harlem Meer. Ice had started to form on the lake’s still waters. The sun beamed just above the buildings on Fifth Avenue, and yellow rays spread through gray clouds. The sky loomed like it held a summer thunderstorm. The Meer didn’t smell much like water, nor did it smell like city grit or like the barren trees or grass in the park.

It was too cold to smell properly, but not to feel.

We had just come down Broadway, in an uptown section divided by a tree-lined median. We passed Scrappy’s favorite grocers and restaurants on Broadway, where he sniffed up a storm and proudly marked the turf. Here and there, I had picked the little guy up and gave him a hug. He loves hugs; he digs his head in my neck, and I swear it feels like he hugs me back. He’s awesome. But I was in a bad way and didn’t want to use him too much. I just love him. I love how he struts with his head high as if he’s leading a parade. In his bug eyes there’s almost always a remarkably clear, confident look. While like normal dogs, he enjoys smelling sh-t and getting into stuff. He doesn’t mind when strangers pet him. Most everyone who meets the little guy, loves him. Sometimes I have a desire to emulate Scrappy. I know that’s crazy, but he’s flat-out awesome.

Minutes ago when we came upon Central Park’s northern border at 110th Street, I thought how I should have steered the little guy into Morningside Park, that was a block behind us. I saw Scrappy D lift his curious eyes to Central Park’s stone wall, before gazing at the trees. The leash became taut. I didn’t have the heart to change his direction.

My problem with “woman x” had started after I received a threat from a demon in Central Park. And now back at the apartment my friends were performing a house blessing to exorcise woman x. All week I had been trying to convince them that she was not an evil spirit. They didn’t believe me. After some harsh words in the morning, I had grabbed the dog and left.

(Harlem Meer in September)

Twenty minutes had passed since we entered the park. By now the cold stung my cheeks. I pulled on Scrappy D’s leash and told the little guy it was time to go home.

On Broadway, as we approached our street, I began to needle my gut. It felt like an open space had sprouted inside me. I knew that my friends had been successful. They had banished woman x’s spirit from our apartment and my life. Days ago she had promised me that she would be my personal seer and protectorate. I believed her. (I had developed strong feelings for her.)

When I entered our uptown apartment, I saw standing to the side of one my four friends, the legendary psychic named Mona. In NYC’s paranormal circles, all one need do is mention her first name. She is one of our “heaviest-hitters.” On occasion she has appeared in my dreams. I believe it’s not a coincidence, and that her volition enables her to do so.

I raised my brows to my lady friend(LF), who diverted her gaze. All we do lately is argue, and it’s getting difficult to think about the times when we didn’t. We have trust issues, actually, she does.

The pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts) flanked LF with their shoulders high, as if they guarded her. LF was dressed in a cream-colored pants suit and had makeup on. That evening there was a Christmas party to attend at the pizza delivery guy’s mother’s townhouse on Staten Island. I still had to shower and shave, and they looked sharp and clean–ready to walk out the door.

“She’s gone,” I said to Mona, who had been studying me. Next to her was Benny, “the cigar store Indian.” The two had their jackets on, and they were edging toward the door.

Mona didn’t respond, though she seemed to be reading my face like it was a crystal ball.

I let my eyes trace the apartment walls. If I was upset that woman x was out of my life, I didn’t let it show.

“You did a great job,” I muttered. “Place seems spiritually bereft.”

Mona nodded.

“She wasn’t a bad demon,” I said.

LF gave a cold stare.

“In times of good, possibly,” Mona said carefully. “Though good is boring to most supernatural entities who are not free. This one was bound to your life, eventually she would have destroyed it, and you.”

“Now she’s gone,” Benny said and opened the door to the outside hall. He put a hand in the small of Mona’s back. “We have to be going, too.”

Benny, who is an old homeless man, wore a new wool suit, and I thought of the times I had seen him picking through trash cans. What the hell does he look for? It wasn’t food or aluminum cans. Once he had found an engagement ring, I remembered. Benny is also a clairvoyant. He is the person I turn to when I have problems with the paranormal. For the most part, he is secretive about his sources. I thought that he must have a personal seer like woman x.

(Broadway by 110th Street – Morningside Heights)

“Call if you need to,” Mona said to me with a ring of concern and left with Benny.

I shrugged, slighted that they were leaving so soon and with so few words.

“We have to help set up for the party tonight,” LF said in a monotone voice, and took Scrappy D by the leash. “You can meet us there later.”

“Maybe, I don’t know,” I said dejectedly.

LF didn’t respond. Once num and nuts realized I wasn’t going with them, their eyes sparked up.

I glared at LF and she turned away. That killed me. Then her red lipstick hit me as sexy, but if I wasn’t going with her–who were those sexy lips for?

“Okay, bye,” she said. There was an awkward moment as she left without a kiss goodbye.

It felt like another empty space had opened in me. I sighed and folded my arms, noting again how the apartment appeared to be wiped clean of any traces of incorporeal life.

Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Thirty-Three

Empty Spaces

The Demolition Man’s Secret


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