person s hand touching wall

Outside my Window: Tracing the Ghosts

The street outside is spookily quiet. I suppose the city spent all of it’s rage and disruption last night. The sirens didn’t stop coming, the shouting, the screaming – the sound of fist against fist against body against life machete held against the neck: the forces of destruction. I lay in bed crying for hours. Getting used to the different sounds of danger happened gradually, discerning between the bang hiss of fireworks, compared to the pop pop of a gun. Saturday night special? It ain’t even Friday. The ghost of the fog that wraps itself around the windowpanes, licks into the corners of my room, but instead of curling round and sleeping, it creeps insidiously into spaces it is not welcome. It tries the door and rattles the vents. It pulls it at the sheets, poltergeist heavy. It drags it’s tail as I put my head under the covers trying to ignore it. It demands attention. In the end I drift off, fetal bundled, head under the pillow into a heavy dream of the sea closing in. Resting thankfully unpeacefully, shaking off sleep with the covers and the sound of my alarm dragging me into Tuesday kicking, struggling as some other person screamed full throated exposed. Delicate. Tender. Soft. Not me. Good morning.

The place was crawling with uniforms today. They knocked on doors, they milled and existed. I grabbed my purse and ran outside not feeling safe in nor out. Not uptown or down. Japantown was packed today. Unfettered by masks, close, dangerous. Indian variant, anybody? California is open for business. We can all go down in flames a few weeks from now, and that takoyaki, maskless and free will be totally worth it to the eaters grazing their way through the mall. Gaping maws opening and closing, hinged masticating. I am not used to seeing strange mouths after so long, not en masse and locust-like devouring with furious intent. They gape and sprinkle food like blessings on the floors of the businesses of my precious Japantown. Matcha icecream disappearing acts in single gulps down the same tube. Mouths obscene smacking lips working furiously, sending specks of spittle, vehicles of infection here and there in vegetable lust.

People’s faces look totally different when you can see all of them. I started to get the yips. Seas of faces, oceans of eaters, in perfect synchronicity, petals opening over the objects of their desire and open close close close open close munching licking stamens fertilizing exchanging consuming whole and in pieces. Get a room! I want to scream. It is all too intimate, too personal, wet open mouths and probing tongues. Faces uncovered. I didn’t care to believe it, but the trauma is real. I blink my eyes and the scene dissolves into a wholesome panorama of people with people joyously sharing life. People hugging people. People breathing freely. People in visceral glory. Life is sweet as marron ice.

The traffic is light on foot heading in all directions. Black Tesla flashes left left left to turn away uptown, I am admiring the blue of it’s lights when I realize that opposite some industrious soul has painted over the MOAB graffiti. Not cleaned it off, not scrubbed it blank, instead carefully traced over the blue spray paint in white thick emulsion. Each letter smudged and ill defined, but still reading MOAB…just now in sparkling white on the yellow brick. It is the kind of act that makes the more sensible soul cock their head sideways, wrinkle their brow and crease their nose wondering why the perpetrator though it a good idea. It now shines in the lamplight halogen glaze, pristine and redeemed. Moab might be the washpot, but you can’t wash it off. It is perfect. It is art. The blue shines through in places. Some things you just can’t clean, the dirt always shows through no matter how many showers you take.

A boy and his friend do the google maps dance across ______ Street. Right hand up high, phone pointed demandingly towards the houses opposite for a live view. He moves half way across the road staring at the phone not the traffic. It is unwise to presume a red light means the cars will stop. It is treated as more an advisory than a command. Realizing the little compass sign is telling him that is not the correct direction, he hops backwards, retracing his steps, shaking the phone a little at the horizon. Having reached the opposite shore, he then darts back across the road, this time all the way. I like it. The tall boy follows now a final decision has been made. Definitive. Sure. Dangerous as heck waving that nice phone around out there. He then stands closely to his friend. I look down at my notebook sucking the top of the pen, when I look back there is no sign either he or his tall friend ever existed. A blip in the matrix? A stressed out zone out? Two Olympic sprinters out for a moonlight stroll? I am too tired to even care.

Two men walk into the liquor store, leaving their car’s hazard lights flashing. Strange choices. The helicopter sounds shudder in my ears flickering, ominously strobing as I pull the curtains closed. Strange decisions that do not belong to me. Disappearing young men. Painted over graffiti. A car left two feet away from the curb, hazard lights flashing and both occupants headed into the small shop. It occurs to me that they must just be strange, if they were robbing the joint, one would have stayed behind in the car. Get away driver. Probably. See no evil reigns today. Hear none is a taller order.

The map is all wrong. The compasses are twisted. The clocks only tell the right time twice a day and the streets are still spookily quiet. I suppose the city spent all it’s rage last night…..


  1. Time Traveler of Life

    What an awful way to live. I wish you could move to a safer place. I wish we all could live in a safer place. None of us should live in a neighborhood that makes us afraid to go outside to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Ive come to the conclusion that safe and gentle is not an option. I need to be in a sanctuary city that won’t deport me and the boy, and thus separate us. This is as gentle and safe as it gets for us. I hope one day not too far off I have my vawa visa and perhaps one day I can at least take a break from the city, or live in a safer part of it. I love hearing owls! How lovely!

      1. rebecca s revels

        I hope so too, for you and your son. The funny thing about owls, there was one that Bella would have conversations with. The owl would call, Bella would bark. This could go on for thirty minutes or until I got tired of the noise 😉 I haven’t heard that owl in a while though, I hope it merely moved to better hunting.

      2. rebecca s revels

        She really is. I’m sure though she is annoyed with me right now as I haven’t let them inside for the night, which I need to go do. Goodnight my friend, I hope that tonight, yours is peaceful.

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