Monday, July 07, 2008

L'escalier des mémoires


“That house... it used to be brown. Who was it that had lived there? Was it Cathy? And the next house... an artist lived there. Guy or chick? Can’t remember...”
A stroll down Browar Street on a broiling July day elicits memories that rival even Ned Merrill’s fever dreams.
“...And that white one at the top of the hill, Omar lived there. There was this party there one time...”
The sun beat down on cracked asphalt. Crepe Myrtles swayed with the hot breeze.
“That’s Chatham’s house behind those hedges... Had a gathering on that porch after the big walkout at work... Norma invited me...”
The afternoon, in its lambent haze, had taken on odd tints and highlights. Rust tones here, green notes there. The burning sky a seething shade of lavender, as if that colour could choose its mood.
Browar Street ended at the bottom of the hill where Pauskil Lane crossed it.
“Hey, there’s Mullins’ Mill... can’t barely see it behind the tall weeds and sawgrass. Man, what a place. Art shows, bands... all in that big ol’ building...”
Images drift from the brain’s attic.

A summer night, a huge old brick mill lit from within.
The procession enters through imposing double doors. The orchestra members stride two-by-two, male and female, arm-in-arm through the cavernous interior. As they approach the stage they pass a vivisection table in the center of the great room. Its stainless steel gleams in the candlelight. It is nicknamed “The Monkey Table.” There is also a shopping buggy, some chickens and an assortment of candelabras.
The musicians ascend the stairs to a stage shrouded by a massive black curtain. Behind it lay their instruments, and behind it they will remain and play for the duration of the show. The real show is out there on the floor.
The image fades.
“Huh. Never did find out what the actual show was out there on the other side of the curtain...”
A man is hanging a For Sale sign up on the gate to the mill. He turns and nods.
“I recognise that guy -- what was his name..?”
Strolling up Pauskil Lane, thunder murmurs from the west.
“That house there... I’ve been in there. Who lived there?”
Definitely a day of fidgeting for names.
The breeze grows, as does the thunder. The street is a narrow but shady one. One side has modest homes; the other, brush and foliage. Amidst the green, there is a set of brick steps, leading up to... nothing. Nothing but vegetation, someone’s home no longer there. Nature taking back what once was hers.
“I do remember those steps -- they led up to nothing...”
What the stairs lead to may as well be a stage shrouded by a massive green curtain. Behind it lay memories of someone else, and behind it they shall remain.
The real show is out here “on the floor” -- in the present, if you will. If there is something at all to be remembered, should it not be this?