Gregory Waits, Jr.
It is, as well it should be,
assumed that loved ones
of all stripes from friends
to family will remember
but searching as I am for
an audience, it is my desire
to be remembered by strangers
Remembered by Strangers
Ecker Park is – or should I say was – a small town. So small no one cared to learn about its existence or how to release the dark cumulus cloud that was present then. Yes there was a permanent dark cloud that hovered over the entire city. It covered the sun and moon. Night and day. The city suffered from a dreary gray shine in the day time. At night the sky had a thin spherical beam of moonlight. On occasions a star would zoom through the cloud wink or frown at the city then quickly disappear. We did not blame them, the stars. It was our goal too; to one day leave this city behind. Everyone suffered from some physical defect as well. Ours were deeply savage scars – mines on my right side and Sahbiya’s on her left. With age the scars would become worse. They would age, wrinkle and spread. It is not uncommon here for people to walk around looking like a crater or the Moon or some rugged war terrain. It’s something many of the residents of Ecker Park had become comfortable with, but we had become increasingly discontent.
When I say we I am speaking of myself and Sahbiya, my girlfriend for seven years at the time. We thought it was a peculiar message from fate that our disfigured marks as two halves merging as one. That got us along for awhile, but soon it wasn’t enough for us. We focused on it more and more. There were arguments for no reason but an excuse to shatter mirrors on the walls or throw the other ones out the window. There were advertisements from smart business people selling various cures for the affliction, but they never worked. Sahbiya and I tried them all. Finally, we gave up. At least we thought we gave up.
Our obsession with George Meedo was instant. From the moment we took notice to the house that seemed to be built overnight to his moving truck parked in front of our home one evening. Sahbiya and I were curious as to how it all happened and no one took notice. We asked our neighbors when the construction took place. We asked them all who was moving into the new home? No one knew anything or cared to know anything. “Ecker Park is a place content with their morose condition,” I told Sahbiya one evening.
The house was not the only odd thing that sparked our curiosity. The moving truck with no activity. At least we would see who and what was going in and out. I had to use the bathroom when Sahbiya rushed in excitedly, “Klezi! Klezi! The truck’s gone. I blinked and it was gone.”
“Did anybody move anything in?”
“No. That’s what I’m tellin you. I look. No blinked and literally it was gone. No one did anything.” “What’s going on over there?”
“I don’t know.”
We became obsessed with the new neighbor. Sahbiya and I were having all night sessions in our window. Still we saw nothing but a few lights in the house going on then off at random times of the night. Our curiosity heightened. One night Sahbiya proposed the idea for us to snoop around the house to see what was going on inside. Moving around his home like arachnids. Unable to see through the windows but a shadowy male figure moving from one room to another, “I can’t gage what he’s doing,” Sahbiya said.
“So it’s a man in there?” I asked in a low whisper.
“Let’s go to the front. We might be able to get a better look from those windows.”
As we prepared to move about the porch and peer into the window we heard his voice standing behind us. “Maybe I can help you find what you’re looking for,” he spoke with a low, gravel voice that was calm and commanding.
We wanted to run but where he stood he was blocking the exit. Forced to turn and face him, Sahbiya and I did so slowly. He looked like the dark figure we saw from the side window. We couldn’t get a good look at his face or eyes. He told us that he had been expecting us, wondering why we had not ventured onto his doorstep sooner. Nevertheless, we followed this man into his home. We had to know what was in his home and what he really looked liked. Following him to his den, his living room was empty. There was a small square table with four chairs in the den.
“My name is George Meedo. I am an experimental scientist if you want to put a name on what I do. Currently I am working on a project that could help you two.”
He turned to look at us. Under the dim light we recognized that he was a shadow. Sahbiya and I were amazed. The looks must have been written all over our faces because he said, “Yes I am a product of my own experiments. You know what they say the best discoveries happen by accident.”
Sahbiya quickly interrogated, “Maybe you’re more than just a shadow. What are you up to man?”
“No, no she’s right. I’m something more, but the truth is I’m here for you two. I’m here from a parallel universe. I got like this because I have been trying to merge the two worlds with a machine I created. The Shadow Walk. I call it that because of what it’s done to me and because when the attempted merge occurs grayish-blue rays are emitted.”
“So how do we figure into your experiment?” Sahbiya queried.
“Straight to the point, I like that. Everything happens in stages. I believe I’m the first. I need the next stage results. I’ve figured out a way to not make something a shadow. I need someone now.”
I shouted offensively, “You want us to be fuckin lab rat’s man?” Meedo lets out a laugh, “No you two seem to be unhappy in your current situation. You see your scars as a curse. You hate this town. You two have nothing to lose.”
Meedo was right. Sahbiya and I did not take long to mull over his offer. Within a night we were entering his Shadow Walker machine, which had a symbol atop of it with various geometric shapes fused together to create what he defined as a hybrid hologram-illusion. I felt my body spasm just before I found myself standing in the midst of a crowded city with loads of sunlight beaming down on me. I was elated. Turning to see my reflection in the window of some retail store I saw the scar was gone.
A beautiful woman stopped to ask me, “Wow. Are you a model? “
“No,” I said a bit flattered and confused.
“You should. You are fine,” she said before asking for my number so she could get me an interview with a modeling agency where her friend worked. I did and she left but not without looking back a few more times.
Within a few months, I was the most requested model in the city. A few more years I would be one of the highest paid male models in the world. I was involved with a lot of equally beautiful women, but nothing solid. I’m set to retire in a couple more years so I figure I can satiate the longing feeling I have had since being in this world – to find a nice girl and settle down. I keep feeling as if something is missing. I just can’t figure out what it is.
A few days ago I was at a farmers market on Videmo Avenue. I bought some fruits, veggies, and a chain with an odd symbol on it. It had various geometric shapes fused together to create a hybrid hologram-illusion look. As I walked to the bus stop a woman walked past me and our eyes connected enough to make us smile as we passed one another and look back with a discombobulated feeling at each other one last time.
Tonight as I recall this story I remembered the chain I had to buy at the farmers market was the symbol on George Meedo’s machine that eliminated our scars, changed our location, and gave us our idea of happiness. As I remember more about my past, I realize that the new me is just a shadow to an old parallel world that was only as horrible as I was making it. Sahbiya and I got everything we thought we wanted except for sharing it with each other. In the end we became strangers to one another, mere passer-by’s on a crowded street.
Strangers ©2015 Gregory Waits, Jr.
Featured Image: Hair ©2014 William Lagrone, Jr.
Poem Remembered by Strangers ©2015 John White