Monday, October 21, 2019

take an ax to the door

Like thin eddies slipping up a low-tide beach...

There's a house for sale across the street -- all spanky and yellow and inviting occupancy ...Hershel's house that for so long was a kind of French blue. Hershel was like a half-hewn log of a man. He had a bum leg from his time in the Korean War. He was loud and his apartment in the now-yellow house was stacked with books he read. Hershel wasn't quite right, but he never did me any harm.

Once Hershel missed his meds and went around in the night with an ax, chopping at the front doors of several other neighbors who for some reason offended him ...  millennial types who had never been to Korea and knew about Mozart. Hershel made mincemeat of several doors, but not mine and I was always sort of proud of myself that my door remained intact. They said Hershel was crazy, but hell, he just had ghosts, like the rest of us.

Dave Pottinger, another chum of the past, said that in Korea, the North Korean forces would steal into American lines in the night. No one ever heard them. The North Korean forces wore sneakers. You could tell from the foot prints. Sneaked into American lines and chopped off the heads of soldiers in the foxholes and snuck away. There was no noise: Maybe that was the worst of it. No heads, but no noise. Did Hershel and Dave see the same things? Did they bring with them the same ghosts? Dave wasn't as crazy as Hershel, but he had been to similar asylums. Silence ... headless silence.

If ghosts sneak in, there is no sneaking them out, I guess. A noiseless permanence. A violent, vile silence. No joke. Doors reduced to kindling in a carefully-coiffed neighborhood.. Who forgot to take his meds?

I wonder who will buy the now-spanky yellow house across the street.

Somebody hustled Hershel off to an old-age home. Or maybe he's dead. I miss him and I miss his ax, but the wispy, ghosty pride I once felt lingers.

Sometimes Mozart reminds me of it all.

House for sale: It's a two-family.

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