Giving Up the Ghost

Posted on March 9, 2010

The view is nice. It has character. He said.

I agreed. Halfheartedly (foolhardily) at first.

Then I give over.

Logic and whim become peaceful, if foreign, bedmates.

And so it goes.

And then it went.

The cryptic creeks become comfortably familiar.

The yellowed walls are now coated in the highest-grade semi-gloss.

Inaccurate photos portraying moments from the lives of the wistful, witless insouciant’s we wish to be are framed and placed in haphazard clusters throughout the space. These clusters are planned and re-planned with immaculate thought.

Their graceless effect, extremely affected.

As are we.

And so it goes.

The Nordic looking Russian in suspenders pushes a type written note under the door early one Sunday morning and then lobs away, giggling gaily.

Ever conservative, likely because of his experience standing in bread lines as a youth, the man has trimmed the standard slip of copy paper to 1/8 of its original size. This is sense, when one considers that just three words comprised of nine letters (ten including punctuation) are inscribed upon it.

See Me Soon.

We find the note sometime later (we do not find it together. He did or I did, but in the end the actual discovery of the thing is of little import.) We set about the task of its comprehension.

See Me Soon.

Very well then.

But who is it that we must see he asks.

I don’t know I reply honestly.

We independently indulge simultaneous shivers of musty excitement.

He nods the question.

I nod the answer.

He drags the 10-foot ladder from the crawl space and then I scale it and stand en pointe while digging through the top-secret custom cubbyhole which lurks behind an oversized framed photo of some old people we pretend to know. The frame (like most things) is a façade. It swings open via imperceptible hinges adorning its left side.

Be careful he says from below and I glare in response from above…

My very life is threatened each time this process becomes necessary because he is afraid of heights…

Look alive I call just before I drop the 17-pound relic from my perch.

He is used to my impetuous nature. He is alive and makes the catch with ease.

I consider a flashy dismount but decide that fun must be reserved for later, after this bastard note hath been decoded. I climb down the old fashioned way.

I wash my hands in a nearby sink and by the time I return to him he is already plugging the equipment into the wall socket while wearing his argyle super sleuth hat.

A wooden pipe is clenched betwixt his teeth.

This gets me in the mood, so I run to another cabinet and unearth a trench coat. It smells like mothballs but I don’t really care. I take off all my other clothes and slip it over my naked body. We eye one another critically and then, suddenly, we allow the smiles we’d purposefully been masking. Just for old times sake…

Been too long he says

You can say that again I reply

Been too long he says again.

I ignore him.

We dim the lights and flip the switch on the dusty slide projector. We are attempting to look official. We must determine the nature of what we do (not) know. He passes me a blank transparency which I place atop the projection window.

So…I say, the red erasable marker poised in my right hand.

We silently stare at the illumination of light on the shiny wall.

We should have gone satin I say.

You were feeling Draper he replies.

Fuck I say.

What a disaster. The walls are ablaze in my stupid post-modern caprice and now we have this note to contend with. And even in our full character garb, we have no clue what any of it means.

What a disappointment he says.

I know I say.

Maybe its really been too long he says.

That’s so sad I reply.

We have no choice. We both know this.

I pull on my teal, rubber galoshes. Right foot first. Then the left.

A pair of oversized plastic tortoiseshell sunglasses now adorn my face.

He loses the pipe.

And then, inspired by my eyewear, he selects a pair of thick black-framed, reading glasses which have no lenses and he props them on the bridge of his nose while licking his palm and then using its wetness to slick his fuzzy hair into a jazzy cowlick.

Feels good to be home he says.

I smile crookedly in agreement, my brain already running wild; buoyed by thoughts of independence and wielding childish dreams of infinite autonomy.

We silently shut the leaden door and then slink past the elevator, scanning the carpet for clues as we go. We hug the walls, trying to blend. We head for the stairs. Once in the safety of the stairwell, we do a sweep. We do not actually believe that anything is safe.

He swirls his index finger in the air, and then bobs it upward three times, indicating that I should head up the remaining three flights to insure that we are alone and that it is safe to talk. He will secure the perimeter. I do as I am told, only slightly resentful that he is in charge now. I shoo my niggling thoughts which insist that the very conversation we are prepping for, should’ve been held in our living room.

I will not bring this up, however, because his response will irritate me. His insistence that they are onto us and that our living room is unsafe is sheer paranoid tomfoolery.

Our disguises are second-to-none. We are fully incognito.

He disagrees though. And he is in charge now.

I return to him and nod three times indicating that all three floors are clear.

Good he says in Farsi.

Wow Farsi even I state with obvious dismay.

Do not be lulled into complacency he says.

Fine. Now what I ask still somewhat irritated but more entertained than earlier.

We split into two teams he replies.

Ok what are the teams I ask with a straight face

You and me he replies with an equally straight face

That’s exactly what I would’ve done I say

I am glad you approve he replies

And with that he pushes open the door which leads from the stairwell to the great outdoors.

The door is marked with a threatening sign which reads:

Emergency Exit Only. Alarm Will Sound

Obviously, no alarm sounds

We’d taken care of that problem on Day One.

We know the benefit of a secret, silent, side exit, you see.

We emerge from the darkness and step into the overwhelming daylight. Birds chirp. There is the sound of a lawn mower buzzing in the distance.

The temperature is hovering around 74.83 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just this side of ‘too warm for a coat.’

Or it would be, anyway, were I not naked as a jaybird beneath mine.

We set about our exploration of the compound. I have been assigned Sectors E, 7, and Q.

He has Bravo, Tango, and Foxtrot. I fucking hate how his always takes the cool sectors now that he can. I’d always tried to be fair. I’d tried to be a good example and take the stupid sectors now and then. He doesn’t do that.

Smart guy, I think.

After all, I’m still here, exploring fucking Sector 7…just as I had when I was being a ‘fair-and-good-example.’

Dictators do it better, I think.

And then wouldn’t you know it? Just when I’d begun to teeter on the slippery slope of cynicism, a clue in the form of a rancid, bedraggled prom queen donning pink taffeta and reeking of Strawberry Hill Boone’s Farm presents herself.

I thought it a ruse at first, for such vital intel is not usually quite so apparent in its nature…

And so when the Rasinette approaches me and openly asks if we’d gotten the summons from the King, I react warily. Instinctually. Though seemingly unnecessary and ludicrous to an outsider, one in my position might easily understand the need to feign ignorance.

“Deed you’s git zee massage? Zee man want see you.”

What massage I ask; my tones steeped in the afore mentioned faux-innocence come ignorance.

How the fuck did she recognize me, I wonder, what with these teal galoshes and everything…

Meanwhile, I am merely biding time. The jig is up. The mystery is solved.

The Road to Boredom beckons once more. Coming! I reply.

She teeters away across the concrete cobblestones. She is hobbling more than a moderate amount. Which makes sense once I see that she wears only one shoe.

Oh well.

I pluck a half smoked cigarette from the ash-can near the border of 7 and Q before ducking into a nearby bush to gather some tinder and then using the lens of my not-so-effective-disguise sunglasses to start a fire and light that beast.

Disgusting I think as I inhale. Menthol. Blech.

A tree rustles from behind. How the fuck is he in charge if he can’t even climb the tree I wonder for the gazillionth time. I know he is watching. Judging. Wondering why the cuss I am practicing my fire-starting skills when there is a case to be solved. He has no idea that I am feeling benevolent. I figure it’d be a shame to tell him the truth and ruin his day too.

And so I create a water filter from an errant palm frond and set about making drinkable water from a teeny puddle of sedentary, melted snow; while humming Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”

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