Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Show For the Dead

It was the winter of 2009. Life had been pretty hellacious to say the least. In between money problems, the market popping, and my career seemingly stalled I was at a loss of what to do. It was a cold night in late February. The snow was plastered on the ground, stuck there like Velcro, never leaving. I got off the M train to Middle Village, Queens. I had been there plenty of times in the daylight. For those of you that don’t know, Middle Village is cemetery central.

In Middle Village you have the All Faith’s Cemetery, where if you walk around you can see tomb stones from all cultures. Of course you have the Americans but you also have the Indians and the Asians especially who install small fountains. It is sort of weird how people memorialize the loved ones. Then there is the old German Cemetery. It belongs to a Lutheran church and has some interesting monuments. Like all good Germans, the families are buried together in one crypt. Many of the older stones have things like skulls and The Grim Reaper on them because we all know what cheerful people the German’s are. Then there is another cemetery, I believe it belongs to a Catholic church. A lot of Spanish families bury their dead in there. They burn incense and leave rosary beads. Hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

While the cemeteries are a mere fixture in this alcove of Queens in the day, they were especially eerie at night. Getting off the train I headed to my destination. I looked like what I was in those days, a bum. My days were spent giving out fliers on the sidewalk in the bitter cold and then delivering singing telegrams. I spent my evenings haggling for spots like a seller does in a Mideastern Market Place. I usually slept in my clothes and this week was no exception. Because of the bitter cold and no hairdryer I had opted not to shower. While that is not the most sane approach my hair is thick and only days before had it produced ice cycles.

Walking along, I noticed it was a full moon. The moon cast an eerie shadow on the graveyards. I would have taken the bus but I had no money in my pocket. I passed cemetery after cemetery. During my walk I saw shadows in the various graveyards behind the various tombstones. Had the dead come out to play? I told myself there was no such thing. It was the darkness. It was the fact the place was desolate aside from a city bus or two buzzing by. It was the full moon that was just making it creepy. Plus it was the fact I was tired. I had been working all week and only the previous week had I been on a road gig where our car caught on fire on the New Jersey Turnpike.

I continued my walk and noticed the shadows were not stopping. Coming past the German Cemetery, or the judgmental cemetery as I referred to it, I saw a stone statue of an angel. Made to be a benevolent guardian, the moon shone on her and she had an evil smirk on her face. There was a switch in the back of her marble damning me to hell I felt. I tried not to look and tried to keep going, but there were miles of cemetery ahead. I heard a bang and I turned my head. Trying to reassure myself that it was just the wind I looked to assuage my worries. The wind began to make a howling sound. Was it the wind or was it the moan of a woman who had died and was searching for her dead lover? I didn’t want to know.

Turning my head I saw another tombstone. It was marble and decaying, old if you will. However the Grim Reaper was on there. Etched in stone, he was menacing and had a malevolent energy even though he was only commemorated in granite. As the moon shone down again, it spotlighted the specter. I could see his cycle, shining and ready to send me into the next world. I began to put some pep in my step. I heard something rattle again. This time it was the cemetery gates. They began to clang angrily with the wind. They shook almost breaking the lock and the chain. Was it the wind or was it some angry spirits feeling that they had been cheated out of life coming to possess me?

I began to walk faster. Suddenly I heard a low, deep, sad, howling. I turned around. It was an old man with a white beard and pasty white skin. With him was a sad, skinny dog who was making some pitiful sound. Both had vacant looks in their eyes. Dogs knew when ghosts were coming. I had read enough Stephen King to know this for sure. I began to run, and fast. As I ran I almost slipped on a patch of black ice. I didn’t care. The ghosts, spooks, and goblins were not going to get me!

Finally as I rounded the corner escaping the dead people who were determined to steal my soul I saw the parlor of a Gypsy woman. While I have been friends with a Romani family for years and know that for the most part they are quiet people, this woman was spooky. Wrinkled and old, she motioned for me to come in for a free reading. I didn’t want to. I just pictured her dying and coming after me like that scene in Drag Me To Hell.

I began to pick up my step nearly slipping two more times until I got to the venue. When I finally got there I was approached by a young Latino who said, “Let me know if you need anything.”

“Not a creep like you!” I said. Ghosts and goblins had been stalking me for blocks before. I could handle this adult male who thought he was God’s gift to women when he neglected to read the newsletter that all men have the same equipment and skill set. He laughed. “No, sweetheart. I own the venue.” I suddenly felt embarrassed as hell and apologized.

“Look, you wouldn’t be the first woman who’s said that. Let’s forget about it and get you something to eat and drink on the house.” The guy said. I apologized again and he told me it was nothing but a thing and already ancient history. While I felt bad, at least I knew the venue was secure from the supernatural. The show started and the first few comics were alright. Then it was my turn. I got up and talked about how this was Cemetery Central and how I was so glad everyone in the audience was alive. I didn’t know how it would go over but it went over well because I got an applause break.

Just so you know, I didn’t join the dead because onstage I absolutely killed.

Love April

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl



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