Black Elk said: “Certain things among the shadows of a man’s life do not have to be remembered – they remember themselves.” He was right. If we’re lucky, we have both memories of good times and memories of important milestones at our command. But whether we’re lucky or not, certain memories come back of their own accord, whether beckoned or not. Many of mine in that category were first lived in a dream place, a middle place, and they come calling with some frequency.
I don’t really know why.
When I was in college, my now-wife and I lived in a nice apartment that happened to be located in the g-h-e-t-t-o with a capital “G”.
One of those sentinels of bygone days, a stalwart stone inner-city middle-class apartment House with solid brick balconies and spacious rooms, French doors, built-in bookshelves, etc. In fact, my own mother had lived in the same building with her parents as a teenager. (I didn’t know this when we looked at the place, but I maintain some strange feeling made me want to live there–call it a feeling of home. I had had no interest in moving, but when we saw this place, I immediately wanted it.)
We had the top floor, and the entry door locked, and it was cheap and our old Greek landlord was a saint, so we were good with it.
One day a couple of girls with…interesting wardrobes…moved in to the apartment below us. I learned later they were sisters, and both worked as strippers at a local club. They were both very nice looking in a surgically enhanced, tacky, over-reaching sort of way.
They moved in with a lot of expensive, brand-new furniture, then completely re-carpeted the place at their own expense. They both drove brand-new cars.
After a few weeks, I noticed they were having “parties” very regularly, lasting to about 3 a.m. It seemed only men attended these parties.
Yep, they were ho’s. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t actually live there. It was just their “business” address.
Anyway, while wondering what to do about it, I noticed one winter evening, coming home around 1:00 a.m. or so, that one of the girl’s new Mitsubishi convertible was parked outside with the engine running. I could tell because it was winter, and the exhaust was visible in the cold.
I went to bed and forgot about it.
When I got up the next day, I looked out my dining room window and noticed the car was still running. What’s more, just then some cops pulled up and started rummaging through it, opening the trunk and such.
I decided to be neighborly and go down there and tell them about it.
I had never spoken to them–we kept different schedules, to say the least. I went down the flight to their place and knocked on the door. I heard considerable shuffling and nervous voices, then a strained “Just a minute” from one of them.
She opened the door a bit, a sheet wrapped around her naked body, her blond shaggy hair all over the place, visibly wired or whacked out on something.
“Hey. I just wanted to tell you your car is out there in the alley, and…”
She interrupted–“My CAR!? Is it RUNNING?”
A bit surprised, I said, “Well, yeah, it is running, and–”
–“Are the COPS IN IT?” Sort of screaming, like we’re arguing even though we’re not.
“Well, yeah, the cops are going through it.”
“Ahhhaaaaayyyy!!!” She screamed in a sort of primal angst-ridding, rolled her eyes back and slammed the door.
Well, I thought, I guess she already knows.
They were gone a few weeks later. I heard the dark haired one had died, or was she murdered?
This was just one of the tamer episodes we had at that place. I would never want to go back, but I do miss the color and unpredictability of the old neighborhood sometimes.