38 – The Ghost Lovers
Billy Closemayer looked at Keisha Williamson, her legs wrapped around his back, as they levitated in mid air, near the ceiling of their ghost apartment on 5th Avenue and smiled down at her. “Quite good that” he grinned.
“Oh, shut up. I can’t believe I let you…”
“Am letting you….”
“Will you stop already. Don’t tell Takoda, don’t tell any one. I’m a married woman…”
“Er, till death?”
“I’m serious, Billy. I feel terrible, it’s just been so difficult for so long, I don’t know what to make of it, of anything…”
Billy laughed, conjured a cigarette, gave one to Keisha, got one for himself, and moved slightly on his face, face West on Central Park, the sun had started to set and the trees were a jumble of silhouettes and greenery. “Did you know that with the exception of a coupla castles in Scotland, we have more ghosts per capita than anywhere else on earth.”
“People don’t like to leave New York.”
“Not out of love for the city, I promise you that.”
Billy sighed and for the first time Keisha had a feel for something about the guy, maybe the why he was a ghost at all, or maybe what he had loved about the city but didn’t now or… “Sometimes I think it is time to leave. I shoulda gone when CBGBs closed down, I should have known it was over. I was really happy in the 70s, it was a wonderful place to be young. So alive. I was so alive, girls , drugs, music, repeat. Every night out till noon the next day, no money but within the scene, I was a part of it. It was my scene, you know,”
“I’m a music person, a music ghost, in the mid 00s there was a lot of session work in LA, every DJ wanted a voice and I had one… I know what you mean.”
Billy nodded. “By the time I OD’d it was nearly over, AIDs and gentrification, it killed us off. Look what they did to my city, Keisha? They scrubbed it up till it’s a shaved armpit. Anything has to be better than this right.”
“Well, don’t leave not. I need you…”
“What if you can’t find him, what if you don’t…”
“I will, I just know he wouldn’t have left me if he was dead…”
It took another week and a lot more sex till Takoda finally had word. Billy and Keisha were at their favorite Diner. Keisha had never dated a white guy before and she enjoyed it, in her experience black guys were either jealous bullies or, like Elijah, sphinx like characters who could spend months without saying a word. Billy was a gentle guy who wore his heart on his sleeve. She could feel his pleasure in her emanate from him and in the world of ghosts, a strange place to spend your time, the worst of all consciousness’s in some ways, he made it easy for her to just be herself, this consciousness, this thing that thought. With the ghostliness, there is so much history as to what it means, to climb into choldren’s rooms and say boo, to be an evil spirit, a bad thing, not worthy of heaven… Billy made her feel alright.
They sat together throughout the day, jostling the waitresses arm and dropping coffee pots, hiding peoples keys in tea pots., that sort of thing, when Takoda showed up as effusive as Keisha had ever seen him.
“We’ve found him”, Takoda told her. “He wasin a coma, he’s out of it now. In a hotel room. Wanna go?”
Keisha looked at Billy, he squeezed her hand and nodded. “You’ll come with me?” she asked. He nodded again. “Let’s go,” she said.
A nurse sat by him in the sterile hospital room, Elijah looked like he was about to join them, all IVs and needle and bleeps on ccomputers and an ashen, shrunken man on a bed, asleep or still in a coma, not dead, and this sure wasn’t a hospice.
“He is sleeping” Takoda explained.
Keisha stood over his bed and then shook his arm, “I’m here, I’m here” she said and began to cry.
“He can’t hear you.”
“Is he sleeping?” Takoda nodded. “Is he dreaming?” she added watching his eyes balls move under his eyelids.
Elijah was dreaming of Keisha, they were children together, she was sitting on the swing in his parents back garden, there was memory involved here but it was a half memory, some of it was real what happened and some was the magic of the dream world: he was pushing her higher and higher on the swing, so high he could see her playing with the clouds, sculpting them, singing an old Ella Fitzgerald song and suddenly all there was was her voice, that perfect soulful sound he’d always loved singing “I lost it, I lost it…” over and over again. And then she didn’t come back down again and all he could hear was “I lost it…” ringing through the warm spring world like the voice of loss and also the voice of hope simultaneously.
“It’s about me,” Keisha said, she could feel Elijah dreaming about her. “He knows I’m here.”
“Yes, it is about you but no, he doesn’t know… it is something else. His brain is readying himself to discover you are dead.”
“I want to be there…” she said and Keisha entered his dream as the boy Elijah sat in the grass and cried, she reached out to him and she looked at him and said, “How can I lose you now? How can I carry on without you. I want to die with you…. Why didn’t I die?” Then awoke with a cry and his eyes wide open in pain and fright. “Tell the nurse”, Keisha screamed. But the Nurse was already there, everything was action, doctors arriving, checking charts, looking at numbers.
“Let’s go”, Takoda said.
“There is nothing to be done yet.”
“Then let me sit here and look at him…” Takoda shrugged but Belly said, “I’ll stay with her, I’ll keep an eye on things.”
Takoda left and they sat like that in silence as the doctors checked him out, tried to communicate and fed Elijah morphine till the pain receded and he fell back asleep and still they sat their and watched over him. Finally she asked Billy, “Wil I ever be able to communicate with him.”
“I don’t know, it depends. Communicating with ghosts is like being a great painter, it is rare and no one on either side is quite sure who can or why they can. One of death’s mysteries. It is like some people have brains like radios and they pick up frequencies other people miss entirely.”
“Maybe… I’ve tried to speak to my daughter but she has never heard me. Of course, she never knew me, she was a baby when I died…”
“Do you visit her…”
“From time to time, when my Grandson was a kid he could see me for awhile but when he got to be around four he lost it. I was so sad. I would sit and read to him and when he told my daughter about his friend Billy she never thought to put one and one together. Just thought another creature of the imagination. Which I guess I am, after all. He really loved me, I would sit and play with him for hours. He was too young to thing of death or ghosts and I showed up as a five year olds. Oddly, something I’ve never done before or since, but then I guess I’ve never really tried to.
“It was a wonderful experience, you know, one of the greatest experiences of my life. Oddly enough, when you’re a ghost and you make yourself a child, you tap into a lot of the things that makes a child, a child, you become innocent like a child. And while I know Christian -that’s his name, Christian Beckett is my Grandson, I met him as an equal and we became firm friends. I’d lie in his bed and talk to him when he was scared in the dark. Funny really, I was comforting him from the thing he was scared of which, if it was anything, was me.
“We’d talk about the world around us, about our cat Cath, about the two dogs, none of who could see me but one of which could sense me and could sense I wasn’t a threat. We’d talk about school, which was looming too fast, and our fears, and being lonely and being not lonely and parents. We really were very close, one of my best friends ever, in fact.
“It was a bizarre haunting in so many ways, I’m a punk rock star in my own little Lower east side, Avenue B and 4th street, world. No responsibilities, no care, and then I’m a ghost and I’m exactly the same and while I kept an eye on my kid, you know I couldn’t interfere and she never knew I was there and then suddenly there is my Grandson, and I am young-old, Grandday best friend and playing make believe with toy cars and, speaking with Christian in that nursery rhyme, half asleep la la language of childhood. A place I completely forgotten had ever even existed.
“’lala Billy, look at my drawing’’”, “’Lala Chrissy what’s it…’”, “Lala Billy, it’s a cat wearing a car and that is you’” “’Can I have it?’”
Billy put his hand in his pocket and handed the painting to Keisha. “I don’t know how I have it. It makes no sense. But then we make no sense. A coupla ghosts hanging out in a hiospital room, looking over a guy we know won’t be joining us because till death we are parted.”
“But what about your Grandson.”
“Nothing about my Grandson. When he stopped being able to see me, it happened suddenly and completely. He also forgot me or if not forgot me, he didn’t quite mourn me. It is as if he believed that I was in fact just a figment of his imagination. He believed it and I lost him. I was very upset. Got high for a month, but when you can’t get DTs it gets to be boring…. Isn’t that strange. The pain of heroine was what made heroine fun.
“It is the cessation of pain Billy. That moment when pain stops… I think that’s a true pleasure in rugs, unlike life you can medicate the pain away…”
They finally left as the dawn began to break over Central Park, and floated down near the fountain, they sat their quietly holding hands, looking at the sky change color and at the Park change color as well, come to life before their eyes, breath in the reality of a life they were not a part of. As the park came to life, they moved up to the Angel of the Waters statue atop of the Bethesda Fountain and they perched together on a wing, like two birds, and watched the day unfold below them
A fast rock & roll song performed with a retro punk vibe
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – April 1983 (Volume 14, Number 11)
the final issue edited by Susan Whitall
hard rock meets classic rock meets Americana
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