There was a staircase; dark brown, tinged with reds and purples. Lacquered and finished and transgressed. Changed by every foot that used it to find dreams and sex and bowel movements. The wall was covered in portraits that shone and revealed only the texture of paint and canvas, ’cause the light from above was still not enough. You would, then would not feel your way up with the railing; you’d suddenly be forced to use the tops of your shoes, then the wall. But that was dangerous, the portraits could obstruct your fall. You’d also wonder who the portraits were of and if you’d obstruct your own with a misjudged step; plant your palm firmly on your forehead, send it through dry-wall, nail through both.
The serpentine staircase would whine and yell out blasphemies and you’d answer back with quicker steps, a fingernail scaring its skin, its varnish, our perception. It would never be the same as it were before.
Staring towards the top of the staircase, the light would feel like death, or symbolize it, but you’d expect something else. Maybe that which comes after death or a bedroom with a rocking chair and a guitar. So without knowing, you’d expect to be utterly disappointed with the result. But you knew that, so you’d start to imagine cat shit and mold and everything bad, and it would all be upstairs. And the beautiful glaring white light was just to coax you and emphasize your blushing cheeks, and what a disappointment it would be. But you’d be too tired to walk back down and it would seem to be darker than before, cause your eyes would have to adjust, but even though that takes less than a minute, you’d find excuses and justifications in it.
At the top, finally with the staircase behind you, you’d realize that no matter how bad it was, you’d still appreciate the light, finally seeing what’s in front of you and all the beautiful things your eyes show you.
you’d see the old ladies,
dressed in black dresses,
hanging from rope,
like a chandelier message.
you’d hear all the notes,
but mostly you’d hope,
the music would speak
the chandelier’s message.
you’d remember the why’s,
the who, what’s and sighs
that sent you upstairs
to take back the message.
you’d wake from your sleep
and part with the dream,
but what lied by your side,
was the messages questions.
So, like your tip toes you’d creep to the doorway. It opens up to an anteroom filled with dust and glamor photo. You have windows to the left; a couple hundred right angles form a many-sided landscape: you can break up the big elm into quadrants; along with the grass and the 52 chevy that rusts further in the distance. There are three walls of picket-fence-white, three doorless doorways and something that makes everything look old; from the 18th century, from an old black man and his hard labors, from the dirty dry plains of Africa, from the sun that burns from millions and trillions of miles away, from here to there its packed gas and other things, unexplainable things.
There’s hardwood floor. There are the chandeliers; they sing the song afore mentioned; I haven’t recorded it so you wouldn’t know, but there are strings and piano and lots of voices in falsetto. The pinnacle of a dream thats brought on by trying to get what you want, and not knowing what you want.
You’d stand there for a while, in your square of square feet.
Then, pushing your way through the dangling bodies you’d catch yourself humming the tune. Even picking up the lyrics like it was some pop song you hadn’t heard since you were a kid. It would be so up lifting, like a hymn. Church organs would swell like pitched down tinnitus, apart of the song, apart of some earthly hum.
And there would be whispering.
Footsteps. Women’s high heels clacking on the wood floor, definitely walking slower than you did. An echo to every single one. It reminds me of a recurring dream i have:
One of those high rise parking lots that reverberate every noise made, and make the squeak of tires and a choked cough sound gargantuan. High heels hunting something somewhere between the 1st and 7th floor. I think I’m 3, milk teeth and in a car. (Maybe I’m not even in the dream. Maybe I’m just observing a dream. And thats very confusing.) So I’m in a car and there’s a heartbeat-like goosh getting closer. I’m hearing just echo. No recognition of the original sound. Then they mix nicely. Sounding like the perfect footstep; a fine specimen towers over those feet. Thighs that jiggle and jiggle their way up to the ass. But the calves stay sturdy like two swaying edifices of bone, skin, bloody muscles and the occasional stray hair; I’m trying to imagine the two dimples that burrow their way into the small of her back. But they’re covered by a black dress and besides that, she would never let me see them. Finally its just cement and close, and the noise makes that very obvious. I wake up when it gets too unbearable.
That’s what these high heels sound like.
But the whispering would start to annoy. You’d realize that the whisperers were innocent. It certainly wasn’t their fault you were being agitated deep in your sleep. IN FACT, you didn’t know you were sleeping. Life was and always would be happening all around you. You were apart of it, like the pitched down tinnitus.
You’d stir and scratch your elbow. Move your head to the left, realize that that was very uncomfortable, then move it to the right. Your muscles had grown used to that position and it would settle your nerves. But through the air and into your nose would swirl the past. A fragrance of books and peach and hairspray. The combination of the three was as familiar as the girl that owned them. “She must be here, and I know she is” you’d somehow say or rather imagine to say, or both. “Is she here beside me, and if so, how could we be so close at such an impossible time. I better wake up. something isn’t right.”
So you turn your head to the left, listen, and breath. Breath like fucking crazy.
You start to smell you’re own breath. Its heavy and warm. It sits on your lips, quickly leaving to join other heavy and warm exhalations. It reeks of whisky and cigarettes…..and wood? You slowly start to come to as the whispering turns into chatter. Are you being watched? How much gesticulating do you do in your sleep?
You’re standing in a parking arcade. 35 and alone and you think…..you think real hard.
Now the high heels are unbearable.
One eye sheepishly opens. Its blurred by the night and you’re curiously long eyelashes.
Above you are four faces peering downward. Previous thoughts and dreams have been surgically removed, but the anxiety lingers. You’ll carry this around with you all day. At night it’ll metamorphose into staircases, divine melody, salutary memories.
But first, a glass of water.
“Hey, you, help me out of this…casket. This is not what it looks like” you accusingly snap.
These 60 somethings are shocked and really don’t know what to say, so at once they all lend a hand. You can feel their hands turning into dust. Their skin slipping off bone like leather gloves, their shoulders popping in and out of place. This is a terrifying way to wake up.
“Thanks a bunch, I’m surprised by your immense strength gramps. I’m also surprised by the circumstance, it was a rough night”.
Being a widowed husband grants you some leeway.
You turn around and sarcastically try to wake up the sleeping corpse. But no one laughs, so you quickly address the audience.
“Well, I’m sorry. Death has never suited me and I just don’t know what to say about it. As you all know, my wife’s death was sudden. It has exhausted my eyes and heart, and no longer have any emotions soft enough for the occasion.”
There’s a familiar white light coming in from the windows, and for a split second you know what death is like.
“I’d like to thank everyone for coming out. Its always better to grieve together than to grieve alone, but before I do any real socializing, I should probably make my bed.”
Another dismissed joke, so you head for the front door. All those faces following you. Their blacks and their whites. Handkerchiefs sitting on their hearts, poised for an easy get-away. Your living room has never felt so dismal and maybe this was the wrong place to hold a visitation. Either way, a door is opened, a smoke is lit, a cloud is in you. You expect to simultaneously smoke and re-hash last nights act, but no. Tap tap tap, on your back, goes a finger.
“H-h-hello” a queazy voice shook out of its wretched body.
“Why hello there, I don’t believe I know you”.
“Well no you don’t. But I knew your wife very well.”
“Very well? Well…”
Before you could even ask “how so” you had figured it out on your own.
Not even his detailed testimony could convince you otherwise. How could this shady slime bag know her at all, never mind very well. His lips started spouting lies and deceit.
“She visited me every week you see. Would come in with her measurements. Fabrics of choice; Pin stripes and plaids. Corduroys and denim. She would spray a peculiar scent in the air and say, ‘make it look as if it smells like this’. Always the same scent, always the same words”.