‘Ghosts of Davis Square’ by Erin Reardon

Monday. Diet cheater! Greasy pie. My fingers ooze and burn fat mozzarella. Sinister old man sips coffee, half-heartedly.

Gay male and fat female argue over grisly meat-stuffed submarine rolls. They are married. Nitpicking. Foreign man at counter spits in his hand, counting change. “What can I get you?”

Yuppie college boy runs in soliciting massages for non-profit anti-oil company up the road. Foreign man yells NO!

Old coffee man paces. Sits down and stands up a dozen times. Nervous cup-tapping. Watching everyone with suspicion. More intense than I, the great people-watcher. The ghost hunter.

Monday. No waiting on overpacked bus until later. Sick of greasy stomach pit. Check my watch. I leave oily napkins on the orange table with shaker of salt crumbs. In search of cigarettes. I have none. There is nothing else for me in here.

Faggot leaves two steps ahead. Says “don’t eat my sub” to fat girl. Outside ribbons of smoke dance. Fried food, smokehouse, cigarette mission accomplished. I don’t dance yet.

I hate the privileged. Love the insane. Envision coffee man shooting us all for fun and games. People stare and click by. Expensive shoes on brick sidewalk. I scrawl in chicken scratch my loathing. Enter barroom. Night.

Cool pint. Friendly faced barman. I know you. The ghosts are hovering. I search for dollar bills to sink into my bloated eternity. Frightful stalker eyes upon me from the moment I sit down. He is a ghost that should be eradicated. I bid him goodbye, wishing brainwaves could kill. I shall not be moved from my perch of (self) destruction. Music soothes. I deconstruct my poems. Write in fragment soul receptor. Need fuel for inspiration. Pennies for my thoughts. Dollars for the jukebox.

Tiny puppy nips. Licks heels. He is the mascot in this rainy Davis Square charade.

Death never far from us all. Ugly livers. Some dead already. I breathe. Pull back a glass. Sink. Sweat. Think.

Early in the week. Early evening. Quietude. Stomach burns. Liver screams! Berate me!

Wednesday. Blast of poetry like opening a letter bomb in my heart. Little boy on bus points to Heaven and shouts, “It’s dirty up there!”

I couldn’t agree more.

Chain smoke. Try to keep booze breath off my tongue. It’s early yet. I am here of my own free will. Missing Mr. Jones. Missing Mr. Noonan, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson. Cold lips. I suck my pen. Warm ink. Still wet. Suck tar from cigarette.

No ghosts. Yet.

I choke. I am a muse. Amusing. To she. Pass my wisdom, my words like some crippling disease. Would I fare better in twilight? Barroom night? Or a blackout full of regrets? I digress. As ever. As always. And never. I miss Bob’s guitar.

Sick empty nip. I cried today. Nothing strange. I need ghosts. To possess me. To invite me into their death house. Somewhere. Less. Far away. I walk among you. Soon.

Pretty girlchild plays piano. Plays beautiful. Sucks on fireball. Leads me to the workshop. I write words. Seven minutes. A basement room in Cambridge.

Enter barroom Wednesday. No familiar barman. I feel like I’m being unfaithful. I’m supposed to dry out. Irony slaps me and laughs. I call up a 2 dollar pint. Scribble nonsense. Tonight I am a drug dealer in a trench coat.

Boy with glasses. Sweet and understanding when I fuck up. This is how I atone. Green and crystalline. My jacket pocket smells delicious. There are no ghosts in the chasm tonight. A sure sign I don’t belong here.

I’m stripped. Prideless. Hopeless. In pain, but loved. Remember piano playing darling. Remember inspirational, uplifting poems I cannot write. Hugs from the madame and love among equals. My poetry mind took over. I want to keep that. Hold it. Reject insecurity and believe. Nerves will die. Not from drink. Maybe from too much tv. I can’t dig my roots in. Too much to write. Too much love in the tea tonight.

Hurry up, lad! Can’t you see I’m dying in this frostbite? The void is swallowing me. Picking bones. I am a devil’s carcass. My despair knows no boundary. These wistful, places I cannot tap into. No ghosts here for me to sing to.

The frat boy idiots leave while cheesy girls talk nail polish and what a fucking tragedy that young actor’s death was. Fuck you, we all die eventually. What’s a few pills at bedtime? We’ll all haunt the square someday. Maybe if I project my hatred onto you, the clueless, I will be free the rest of this pissing rainy night. Remember that Jesus-love-poem. Keep the positivity rolling until he fucking rises and you sell your wares and get on the bus.

The ghosts remain untouched.

I’m left with a cruddy jukebox and greasy lipstick smudges on the glass.

Beauty. Grace. Forgiveness is sweet. I walk through puddles for you. I leave no darkness. Clean. Not long until nestled in living room chair. Bid goodnight. I’ll not see you again this winter. I hope. And I feel love. Safe. Rest easy now. Quiet, my head. I hang you out to dry with battered socks. Like my tears. You’ll stay clean. Free of me. Promise. Promise.

Thursday morning. Snow. Man at head of bus talks nonsense. Loud. Animated. No one cares about your hot dogs. Your secrets. Sleep hangs heavy overhead. I would have slept forever if I could have. Winter moans sad. The ghosts never come out in the morning.

Saturday. Early evening. I am among my phantoms. Personal relics of a past I can barely comprehend. I try my best to live outside of it all. I try my best…Sometimes.

They hover quiet. Young girl trips on tree trunk. Roots like mangled baby limbs. Tremble at her cinnamon lips. Sunken eyes. Two weeks tired.

Late train. Frosty rain. She changed shoes in the bar on the corner. Cold, bitten feet. Icicle heart valves, twisted. A whisper says maybe things will be alright tonight. Three knocks on the table. Smile. A ghost is at your shoulder.

Laughter abounds. A late night. I thought I’d talk about writing. Her name was Jane and she was reading Nin. Then she got all existential on my ass. She slugs Jameson. My kind of girl. I turn away from her to write this all down. Just in case someday it means something. Just in case it changes my life somehow.

(Weeks later. I kiss Jane on the mouth. I drunk dial her. It falls apart…)

One day. On a Thursday. I saw him in the train. Back home. I’m going. He got on at Harvard. I couldn’t look away from him, apart from when eye contact gets creepy. (I’d die if he thought that of me). The most beautiful man. I forgot to look for a wedding band. Quietly fell into dream. Fantasy. I was confident. Unblemished. I approached him. Told him I was mesmerized. The train rolled into Porter and he stepped out onto the platform. I was about to say goodbye, when he stepped back in. I imagined he reciprocated my tender desires. And when he got out at Davis, same as me, I froze. Tracked him with my eyes around the corner. Only to be lost in a crowd on the other side. Vanished. Alas, another ghost. One I couldn’t catch. All in ten minutes I was in love, then broken-hearted.

Funny when these little things happen. Coincidences. When if only in a moment, every emotion surfaces. Spreads itself like vapor. A flicker of love. Hope enough to tease and remind me of my loneliness. But in that one moment. Forgotten. Maybe someday I will truly lose myself. Stop chasing ghosts. Dreams that never prosper. Never bear sweet fruit of love. Whoever he is. Maybe it is I who am the ghost. The only one. Walking among this meaty universe. Weary. Crying on the inside, decaying on the surface. A zombie not meant to indulge in Earthly pleasure for longer than that one moment.

Erin Reardon has been here before. See Parasitic #3


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