What You See
(“Home” – Photo art by Joe)
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo on creating the David.
Weeks ago I told Benny, “the cigar store Indian,” about a haunted house in the East 50’s that mysteriously disappeared. My lady friend(LF) and the pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts), were with me when I spoke with Benny. The five of us had gone to a Tex Mex restaurant.
Benny, who is an old homeless man with clairvoyant powers, said the home I had seen was in a dream, weaved into reality. The reality part explained the emails I received from the boy I had met in the dream, as well as a phone call he had made to my boss. Benny also said that if I found I was at the home again, to tell myself that it wasn’t real. Then he said I should just forget about it as I did most any other dream. He didn’t say what to do about further phone calls or emails, and I didn’t ask.
After a long day of demolition work in Flatbush, I came up from the Astor Place subway and treaded to a hair salon in the East Village to meet LF. Just days from the start of Spring, there was a touch of warmth in the afternoon air. It was as welcoming as a cold beer.
The salon was tucked away on a quiet street, lined with cars and five-story walkups. The sidewalk in front of me was empty. The budding leaves on the trees caught my attention, before I noticed the silence was uncanny. My senses came alive.
A boy loped between two parked cars and paused on the sidewalk ahead. His arms were behind his back, and his head was angled to meet my gaze. It was James. He was the boy I had met at the haunted house that disappeared. He was the boy from the dream. Yet he looked real.
I became conscious of each step, wishing someone else was on the street to see the boy. LF was in the salon, less than sixty feet away.
“You never came back,” James said pointedly, seeming aloof yet angry. His short black hair was neatly combed to one side. His blue eyes were icy.
“I did come back, but couldn’t find your house,” I said, texting LF: “Come outside right now…”
“How could that be?” he said, wearing a similar outfit as the time I met him: a collared white shirt, “high-water” slacks, and polished black boots. Though now he had on a stylish blazer.
I tried to touch his arm, but he jerked it back. “You’re not real. You’re from a dream world,” I said, seeming to have no reason to question my consciousness. “Somehow you’re weaved into reality.”
“What about my mother and my sister, you met them too?” he said.
“They’re not real either.”
“Good, so then you won’t have a problem, because,” he wiped his forearm across his eyes, “it’s going to get messy.”
“That ghost in my house, it wasn’t a pirate, or maybe he was at one time–” James lifted his right arm for me to touch.
I clasped the elbow and marveled how it was soft and pliable, more like the arm of a doll. I looked up. LF and num and num came out of the salon. Immediately, they set their sights upon James.
“–His name is Pie-eyed Pete,” the boy continued. “He’s a vampire.”
“How do you know,” I asked as LF and num and nuts came within earshot.
“I knew his name all along, but not that he was a vampire.” He cupped his mouth. “Then he–he and my mother!”
“Your mother didn’t believe your house was haunted,” I said.
“And now she’s dead! Or undead.” He sniffled.
“Undead?” LF wondered, her black hair and white face glinting even though we were in the shadows. “What do you mean?”
“Last night while I slept, she came to me,” James said. “When I woke, she was bent over me. Her eyes looked like the eyes of a wild animal.” Tears rolled down his cheeks. “There was blood on her mouth . . . and her nightgown. And the air smelled like blood.”
“Did she have pointy teeth?” I asked.
“I don’t know?”
“Where was your father?” LF asked.
“I haven’t seen him–in years,” he said. (This conflicts with what I first was made to understand.)
“And Lara, your sister, where was she?” LF asked fearfully.
James looked up at me and wiped his cheeks with both hands. “If you could have come back, maybe it wouldn’t have happened!” His pale face was streaked with red. “My mother,” he said and took a deep breath. “My mother jumped back from my bed and hid her face from me. ‘Run for your life, James’ she said. ‘Mommy is dead. Your mommy is dead.’ She was crying when she said it.
“I got out of bed and ran to Lara’s room,” he sobbed. “The sheets and covers and stuffed animals were thrown on the floor. Lara was face up on the bare mattress, dressed in her communion dress. My mother must have put it on her. But I couldn’t look at Lara or go closer. I ran out of the house.”
Everyone was sobbing. LF knelt and hugged James, who went limp. I heard him whisper, “I have no where to go.”
“You can stay with us,” LF said.
It was some time before James recovered enough to speak again. He looked directly into LF’s eyes. “Soon, you should know, I’m going to disappear, but I’m not really going to be gone. I will still be with you.” He embraced her again, and pressed his head into her shoulder.
“Okay, don’t worry James,” LF said.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Thirty-Four:
Some photos from Greenwich Village: