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November 15 , 2010

Strange Days


Morning, timid this far north, approached my window, where it hesitated, as if a little unsure what came next.

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A Song Once Heard

When rich, handsome Daniel Penhale proposes to Sophy Beardmore, she is swift to accept. The marriage seems to offer the security and respectability she has always dreamed of in a life overshadowed by her mother's feckless, radical way of living. But Daniel's wealth has not made Kildower, his Cornish house, a happy place. It is haunted by old…

Within, her brother and enemy lingered in many places though the sun had long since risen: on the windows and along the floor as frost, in the cold hash pipe as ash, in the lava lamp as yellow and red bubbly ghost still rising and falling and rising and falling from the heat of the little bulb.

On the table as story.

The sun rose higher still before Sister Morning finally pried herself through the frosted glass and heavy curtains and onto my face where she settled and with the help of pure physical needs found and excavated me.

I opened my eyes to wonder at the ceiling, then turned to my left to wonder at the wall and at the many little letters there, then turned to my right to wonder at the table, to wonder at the large sheet of paper on the table with many more inky letters scrawled all over it, all mine. And I wondered indeed, for I could not remember what I might have written.

I heaved myself halfway up and onto my elbow to wonder a little harder. So many letters, all running around scratchily on stiff paper in my barely legible hand. And so it came back to me, oh so little by oh so little: that long single exhaling under the spell of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Moll. I sat all the way up, picked up the sheet, wrapped the blanket around me, noticed my own breath as faint mist in the cold air, leaned back against the thick wall behind me, and began to read.

Reading, I returned to the arms of Brother Cold and dark despite both gas burners on as high as they would go and hissing heat into his icy heart and the little kerosene heater that could doing its part in the frosty corner.

But those were barely more than gestures. We are talking capital N North here, a meter of snow outside my window, glittering and would be sharp to the touch, I could tell, and would squeak underfoot, I could tell, and two almost meter-thick walls colder than death—the outside walls, one nearly as cold wall facing the hallway, and one not at all warm wall which I shared with my neighbor. Making a tall rectangular box of frigid space. Me and Brother Night inside. Cold and stoned both.

I had swung across first one ocean and then a continent to reach the next ocean and the big city there they call Los Angeles and in it lived the Doors and Strange Days through all of side one and then all of side two and still my frosty wings were spread and eager to go places so I carefully lifted the Doors record off the turntable and instead carefully lowered Bach onto it. Then I took the stylus and lowered it, slowly, respectfully, the way you always lower even the most eager stylus onto Bach.

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