“You first,” he said allowing me to enter the elevator before him. “You look like you have somewhere to be.”
I give him a small smile and nod in thanks and step in to the cramped metal box. Once securely inside the doors slide shut, and the ruddy-faced stranger and I are alone as we begin our decent.
“I lost my job yesterday,” he says out of the blue. “So I’m in no hurry. That’s why I’m at the gym this morning.”
I quietly respond “Well if you’re going to have some free time at least it’s the right time of year. It’s really gorgeous out.”
“That or my boss is a complete asshole and knows no one can find a new job in summer.”
I fall into an awkward silence and pray we are almost to the lobby.
Strange little ship, Bobbing in the sea, I looked into a painting, But all I saw was me
I saw it in the thrift shop auction window and knew I had to have it. I impatiently waited for the clock to wind down to slip in my bid at the last second so I knew no one would trump my bid. Mine, like Gollum has found her precious. The painting wasn’t a great masterpiece or anything but it captured me for some reason, this strange symmetrical ship floating in a mist of blue and grays. It was from a tryptic series but the others like it in different hues just did not call to me the same way. Who’s to say why an image may strike a cord with one viewer and not with the next. Maybe I related to the little ship, maybe I sometime feel like it’s a my portrait truer than a depiction of my face. Maybe I see some truth of my insecurities, seemingly lost alone in a haze on the open sea, in a calm before a storm, waters slightly rippling maybe suggesting a unseen turbulence churning beneath it’s surface. Or maybe it just reminded me of home and family, the coast where I spent so many grey years walking in the fog along the boat yards. Maybe I just like the calm meditative feeling I have when I look at it, the stillness, the symmetry of having neither the path ahead nor the path behind be a sharp fixation, a reminder that all that matters is the moment.
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble… hey, bartender, make mine a double.
Is it just me that likes to pretend I’m a cackling witch brewing a potion when I am cooking? That wishes they were dicing up some eye of newt instead of carrots to throw into that cauldron simmering on the blue flame of the stove top? Aside from the whole being burnt at the stake thing, being a witch would actually be pretty sweet. You get a fabulous wide-brimmed hat and dress in a chic black maxi dress, unless you are off to dance and fuck under the full moon. That actually sounds just like the single life in Brooklyn anyway. I already have the requisite black cat and if I get a little warty now and then who cares! Dermatology has come a long way, baby.
The added bonus of flying about on a broom would really help my morning commute. Brooms for everyone I say—let’s run the MTA right out of business! I’m sure the resulting cluster-fuck of having 10 million people air born at once over the small island of Manhattan as they commute to their midtown office jobs would be extremely entertaining for a while before it joins the list of daily humdrum annoyances. I can just picture the broom-messenger daredevils swerving in and out of traffic to get their packages delivered on time while hipsters look down their noses in competition to see who has the coolest and hippest of sweepers. The helicopters that now plague the Friday afternoon skyline carrying the wealthy to their Hamptons escapes would now be broom powered chauffeurs pulling the precious cargo behind them. There would be an app on every phone for broom service arriving at your doorstep, or windowstep in this case, to give you a lift. Gangs would pull fly-bys and broom-jackings, while the drunken 4 am bar crowd would accidentally fly into your window while you try to sleep like deranged pigeons trying to make it to their roost.
Actually maybe our world is better off flight impaired. Time to cook up something else in my cauldron.
She came with all the supplies she had left in the chaos after the storm—a change of underwear, an egg, and half a chorizo. She’d fled the dead city late the night before when it became apparent that the power was not going to be restored. With all communications and transportation down she took her chance and surprised me. The devastation hadn’t effected my area, just about a half hour away on foot from hers. Life here was still completely normal except for the forced holiday from work.
On the clear afternoon that followed, my refugee and I decided to walk the Bridge to see the damage for ourselves. Progress on the bridge was difficult against the hoards still vacating the city in a shoulder-to-shoulder crush. They were clutching their pillows, their luggage wheeling behind them taking whatever they could comfortably carry in a slow migration in an eerie silence. None knew when they would be able to go back to their homes. The worry and shock were almost tangible qualities in the air.
The Bridge was a stark contrast to the affected area itself—it was like a ghost town. The streets were deserted, lifeless except for a small crowd hovering around the one working outlet at the fire hall like it was a lifeline. The constant hum of the city that never sleeps is known for was silenced for the first time in my experience. Funny that something that you can be completely unaware of most of the time can be so disarming in it’s absence.
My guest and I split different ways as I walked home in the absence of public transportation, and she headed back to her place to gather her things for a longer stay chez Hotel Me. Every couch in my burrow now seemed to have a similar occupant.
That night was a blur of horrors—dreams melted to nightmares as sweet scenarios turned to shit and loving familiar faces distorted and became monstrous. As I slowly drifted to consciousness my last vision was of me, sleeping just as I was in my bedroom. A shadowed demonic specter hovered in the air next to my head whispering awful things to my vulnerable subconscious in its dream state. It had followed me home that afternoon from the city, hitching a ride with the fleeing masses.
Finally, my eyes opened but instead of a ghost by my head it was my black cat on the nightstand. She was batting at something in the air above her, where the demon was in my dreams. She then followed the unseen thing, chasing it into the wall. My eyelids now peeled back and my eyes popping like grapes from my skull. They were not going to shut again anytime soon. I scooted up so I was sitting up with my arms around my knees. My imagination begins to run rampant—It was just a dream, right? Ghosts aren’t real. Was it my brain’s interpretation of an insect buzzing around in the dark? Maybe the sight of seeing the displaced fleeing their homes had a greater impression than I thought. Or maybe the living weren’t the only things fleeing the city core.
I can hear my friend role over in the adjacent room. She’s fairly superstitious so maybe I won’t tell her about my dream… not yet anyway. Not until I have a chance to sage the house… you know… just in case.