Slow night on Shadow Street, where you never meet anyone you know and every place you go was never there before and will be altogether different tomorrow.
I say to the barkeep at the bistro, looking over the sparse crowd of irregular regulars in the
unfamiliar room where I stop every evening on my way home.
“I wouldn’t know, never worked here before. What will you have, the usual?”
“The usual, for a change. But not the same ole same ole again.”
“Nowhere is everywhere when nothing is anything,” I brood as I gaze in the mirror at the face of the stranger who looks back at me, indifferently, “and everyone is no one when someone is anyone.”
Now and then, someone I never saw before and will never meet again stops for a drink and
we resume the same conversation we never had which ends, as usual, before it begins with
nothing being said.
“Did you ever overhear yourself talking to yourself in a language you don’t understand?”
A businessman stares at me starkly holding a martini in his manicured hand.
“May I make a suggestion?” The barkeep, who has changed his identity and now is me sets a drink down in front of who I used to be. “Instead of that try this.”
Light flows around my mental breakdown. A golden mist in which nothing exists replaces it.
“What is it?”
I smack my lips.
“It’s called Forgetfulness.”
The combo in the cabaret can’t quite coordinate their conga today. But they continue to play (badly) anyway. Dressed for dinner, the Diva, ceremoniously, enters holding a dead bouquet.
“We played to an empty theater.” She announces to the world weary waiter who tosses her ermine on the radiator. “But it really doesn’t matter. We merely closed sooner than later.”
The black cat curled up by the cabinet, dreams of falling nine times from a parapet.
“No one will catch you.”
Says a voice in his purring brain and his recurring nightmare begins all over again.
Brooding beneath his beard, like a repentant behind a confessional curtain, the bard at the bar orders a bottle of Vichy water and canard in a voice without pitch like a ventriloquist. (Which no one finds especially ridiculous.)
The old couple in the corner hold hands and gaze at each other (and remember) knowing
that they both soon will be goners.
The siren at the next table checks her compact mirror and finds another wrinkle.
The drunk staggering across the floor is determined to make it with dignity to the door.
(Since he can’t afford to imbibe anymore.)
White mice scurry to and fro, up and down the crowded bistro, scavenging for food as
they go, back and forth, in and out, hoping that nobody will notice.
Shooting stars suddenly fill the night. We watch them fall from the cabaret’s sky light. And we smile with delight at the wonderful sight of the heavens exploding with celestial light.
The scary lair of sleep where white mice in lab smocks dance around alarm clocks. Is it a
good time, bad time, standing before me, tonight, in the snow – this new version of apparition guarding the shadowy, night world’s black hole?
“Well, well.” The poltergeist studies me, mockingly. “Do tell.”
It’s wearing gaudy, glad rags instead of garbage bags, a Mardi Gras mask, a tilted top hat over a carnival colored fright-wig, and holding a shrunken-head filled whirl-a-gig.
“Are you ready to make merry? If so, away we go!”
Ghost haunts, spectral walks, dead zones fogged by smoke and gin. Up and down, round and round, falling down, we stagger through night town – dancing in dungeons with demons, gamboling with goblins and cretins, cavorting with catatonics in catacombs, wooing witches, making mad love with mummies, playing Russian roulette with zombies.
“What’s next?” I smile at the dream fairy. “That was merry.”
“How about a little snow therapy?”
We fashion snow dreams in the dark under the moon and stars, making “Frosty” men and
women with charcoal studded eyes, icicle noses and cinder dust grins, we shape angels in the drifts, igloos, Eskimos, polar bears, castles, draw water from the park’s pond and sculpt ice palaces along the moonlit snow mounds. Suddenly, the sun comes up and we watch it all melt.
Daylight on drawn blinds – I rub my eyes and take some time to come to myself in the haunted house.
“We will never part.” I remember some siren whispering in the dark. “Our love is here to stay.” I try to recall her face.
Cobwebs cluster in the corners. Bats flit to and fro. Creatures circle the bed like the walking dead. A psychotic eye peeks through my keyhole.
I was midnight mad and on the loose. I found her number in a telephone booth.
“Come in from the night!” was scribbled under it in lipstick. “Experience delight!” “Don’t be so uptight!” “If it feels good it’s right!”
A costume party? A ceremony? I remember a potent drink – and then everything went blank?
“It is you that I adore; our love will last forevermore.”
Dancing puppets on a parapet encircle my brain like a tourniquet.
What do you do after work?