Rainbow in a Ghost Town - Short Story

Do you know what it feels like to be a rainbow in a ghost town? I hear this in my head. Again, “Do you know what it feels like to be a rainbow in a ghost town?” Where is this audible thought coming from? It speaks from behind me keeping pace with me as I walk. I stroll into the coffee shop and order a medium holiday blend coffee with room for milk. The voice says, You’re stuck between creation and evolution, no longer a monkey nor yet to become an angel. You’re only a metaphor stuck inside a shell. Shell in which you’re preserved and housed and someday will have to return back to the soil. “That will be $1.87 sir. Would you like to donate a dollar to our children’s holiday fund.” The barista startles me back into consciousness. I smile at her and say yes.

I pick up a copy of yesterday’s New York Times that someone left on the table. It is opened to an article in the Health section about how Hong Kong finds more tainted eggs. I drink my coffee and watch people come and go and think about this strange narrative experience I am having. Eggs tainted with the chemical melamine that drops out of the butts of chickens and an audible thought standing behind me and within me.

I am not you. I am separate from you. I have my own thoughts, feelings and emotions. I am what I am becoming. I embrace loneliness. I am fluid motion and complete stillness. I need the light to live yet I am in utter darkness. I am not human. I am your shadow.

Darting up from my table I go to the men’s room. Splashing water on my face I think about all the times I jokingly wrote about the onset of schizophrenia. I stare at myself in the mirror questioning the validity of this occurrence. I laugh out loud, my heart beats heavily. Splash more cold water on my face, wash my hands with that pink soap that never gets soapy and dry myself with brown rough paper that has no absorbent worth to it. I stand looking at my face. Same stubble on my chin, same haircut, these are my clothes. Never could recognize my own face, nevertheless this is me.

Do you know what it feels like to be a rainbow in a ghost town? “No”, I reply quietly in my head. “Why do you ask?” Not sure. It seems symbolic. A perfect image. “Image for what?” I ask. You; your existence. “How much do you weigh?” I ask. That is the dumbest question; I am the absence of light. I am neither matter nor anti-matter. I do not exist in time, only in flow of motion can I have presence in this world. Why would you ask suggest a question? “Because you have been feeling heavy to me and I can feel myself dragging you around. My own shadow aches.

Rub my hands over my face, straighten my jacket and adjust my scarf around my neck. Three deep breaths and I exit the men’s room. Walk back to my table, finished the article on tainted eggs. The article states: “Illegal levels of melamine, the industrial chemical blamed for sickening hundreds of thousands of young Chinese children, six fatalities.” Why?

Rainbow in a ghost town, that’s why. Perfecting that art of doing something so beautifully or something that is completely wicked. That’s what you humans do with your shells. But you, my master, you take things in. You are a rainbow in a ghost town.

This is eerie. I get up and leave the coffeehouse. Walking down the street I think this is a different reality from normal life and it is standing next to me. My new reality is inescapable; I wish I would have seen a UFO, a ghost meeting Jesus or Buddha or something like that. The street traffic is crowded, the sun is bright, the wind is cold and I just had a conversation with my shadow. The shadow calls me “my master”. Hair raises on the back of my neck as I repeat the phrase to myself, “my master.

I knock into a pizza deliveryman on the sidewalk, stumble off the curb into traffic. Car horn blows; blue Pontiac. The driver gives me the finger. I wave apoplectically, he doesn’t seem to care. Think I’ll take the subway. No tokens in my pocket, buy a seven day trip ticket. I sit across from a high school-aged couple on the train. She is polished; a mature look reminding me of Gwyneth Paltrow. Long blond hair, large black bag, turtleneck sweater, short, plaid skirt with a getting-back-at-daddy look on her face. The boy has that look of growing up in a cul-de-sac community but wishes he was raised in “the hood”. He is too clean looking to pull off the style but I am sure the girl’s father hates him. They look like they’re in love.

No voice in my head. I sit alone on the train unnoticeable to anyone else around me. I think that I could probably die in this seat and nobody would notice until the train stopped running for the day. My body would most likely be found by a cleaning crew. Train stops, the light flickers twice and I get off at Jameson St. and 9th.

Walk two blocks down the street to my apartment. Six flights of stairs to my front door. Every time I walk up the steps I tell myself this is the cheapest gym membership. It’s a small, clean apartment. I don’t have much stuff. Some books, CD’s, one small closet of clothes, toiletries, an exercise mat and a small collection of cooking utensils. You don’t need much in the kitchen to cook a good meal. One sharp knife for chopping vegetables, a large cutting board, a deep frying pan and a small arsenal of oils; with all of this you can pretty much cook anything.

Still no voice. Maybe it is the onset of schizophrenia. Go to the fridge and get a bottle of beer. Drink that down and get a second one. Realized that I haven’t eaten since yesterday. Twelve hours without food is too long for a man to go without eating. Bag of carrots, red peppers some onions. Mix that up with rice and chicken and that’s dinner. Feeling odd and not knowing what to do next, I flip through my mail while eating dinner. Junk mail, bills and a single Christmas card. Who remembered me? It’s from the real estate agent that I leased this apartment from. This can make you feel alone in the world; a single Christmas card from a real estate agent that you only met once. I am a walking ghost.

That’s why you can hear me. You can feel me. You sense your own shadow. Shadows are given no thought from the human mind, no connection to the soul. This is essential for our survival. If you become me, I will no longer exist. That leaves me with no purpose. This is killing me; literally killing me and I want to live, my master.

“Sorry” I say out loud, definitely the onset of schizophrenia, I think to myself. “Shadow voice in my head or whatever crazy thing that you are!” I scream out loud. “Where have you been? Why do you come and go?” I’ve been out in the ether doing good deeds. “Really?” No. You are killing me and in doing so are slowly dieing yourself. I will not be able to speak to you many more times. A life of hopeful longing to be noticed is your hell, my master. No longer a monkey nor yet to become an angel. You’re a rainbow in a ghost town. The voice stops abruptly. Not getting the last sounds of the word “town” out. Am I alive? Did the voice die? My heart beats…

Next, I go into the bathroom. The lights are too bright. Squinting, I brush my teeth. I am alive, I am not schizophrenic. I repeat this to myself as I brush. Music. I need music. I need the music to fill my head, no longer do I want to think. Finishing up in the bathroom I enter the bed room. Clean, empty room, gray bedspread, two books, a bible and a travel log on Paris sits on the nightstand. One lamp and an Ipod connected to stereo speakers. Scroll through the Ipod and decide on Herbie Hancock; the Joni Letters. I lie in bed, listen and breathe. This music is an ideal blend of instrumentation and words, both equally strong, supporting each other. Piano mixes with vocals with horns laced through them. It is a poetic landscape of sounds, perfection, and neither one a shadow to the other.

Shadow…shadow…sha…my heart stops…