The forest along the highway looked much the same as it had some fifty years previous in his youth except that there was a new horse trail. The gray tapioca sky of winter hung heavy upon the bare tree landscape of Skokie. Brand new Mid-Century apartments aged some fifty years into insignificance stood like granite boulders amidst their own forest of weathered telephone poles. The spirit of my mother beside me as a passenger in the car I took in the blue gray surroundings as if I was reading the collective faces of another lost generation that somehow no longer belonged. A patent irony when one recalls that many of the original residents of these brick and Lannon stone masterpieces had been only a decade into their occupation of this new land transposed from one that had been completely reduced to rubble. Housing those Middle Class children of a more modern Moses thrown briefly into bondage by an evil king. Their own Old Testament God summoned to visit complete destruction on this king and his people in a final terrible European Megiddio scenario of total revelatory annihilation of what was once the only former land that they had known.as home. Perhaps at that time of transition some thought that they had been waylaid thus to enjoy a new era of prosperity to flower as a people once again to enjoy some golden era. But some fifty years hence one might have surmised from events since that they had been cursed to repeat their most potent fable of being lost in the wilderness amidst others that knew not their names.
The entrance to the building and the stairwell leading to the halls beyond seemed close to that point when years of ear and habitation were bringing them to a final unstoppable point of rapid demise. All the vivacious sense of life and possibility left off in a habitual haze of long addled memory too many years ago. Most of the original residents now having been replaced with new immigrants of a different caliber and world view. The same sense of social unease that had been felt in past times within the old land having eventually followed suit with these former inhabitants to come to rest here. He felt our of place as some potential invader for the simple fact of having come here as he followed his mother in her composite form of phantom reprising several ages in one.It seemed from the expression on her indefinite features that she wasn’t engaged upon a mission meant to spark felicity. The door to the second floor corner apartment was swung open and he could hear her voice addressing another woman by the name Bea. A vague stream of remembrance flowed over him illuminating some distant snippet of conversation that identified the occupant as someone well-known from an era when he may have still been an infant child. A resident of another world that had preceded his birth. A time with its own equally halcyon sensibilities that would have equaled or even surpassed those of this now current modern time. I could tell by the muffled tone of the conversation in the next room that Bea had suffered some tragedies on the back end of life’s slope.
The furniture and their accompanied them upon the walls as I entered from the hall were from a movie set bespeaking the fading glow of a former prosperity. The setting providing a disorienting museum-like quality of being dryly set back superficially in time yet possessing no sense of viable energies suggesting viable human emotions. Its sole occupant stood like a granite effigy with an expression staring past the walls into a direction where the evidence upon the wear upon her face bespoke some deep inflexible degree of pain. One sensed that this feint dialogue ongoing between the spirit and the spiritless was ploughing up some former singular tragedy that had turned a once vital existence to stone. The statuesque figure of this woman stood like a aged pillar the life that had once been resident within her dispersed about the room. She had degenerated as a living person into an impression of something slightly noticeable. The tragedy in question had left her and her husband’s business affairs in shambles having been robbed of all the years of mutual effort to build a successful life together. If there could have been children to this unlucky match it was apparent that they were long gone too. Though fate had been initially kind to them it had struck a sledge hammer to both of them in the end. The ‘He’ had been swept away past the veil of death but the physical part of her mortal existence still remained. To see her there immobile conversing with his mother’s shade her eyes in a frozen contradiction to the slightest movements one could say with some assurance that for a moment or two that things long put away were being aired from a musty past.
The darkness that enclosed the room was dead cold. He rolled over and opened his eyes but found only a barely realized outline of streetlamp illuminated gloom defining the long bay window that identified his current location as his own bedroom. The static details of the woman and her abode that persisted upon his retina quickly dissolving into his own reality. Cars were slowly humming past in extended moaning intervals their presence announcing that this unlit gloom was soon once again to be displaced by a more apparent well-illuminated version. The ghosts now departed he pondered whether this apparition called Bea that seemed to rely on memories stirred up from his own dim past had indeed really existed. The sedimentary jumble of the toy box of his recollections unable to afford the suggestion of that possibility being so. It was impossible to say with any certainty that the woman was a solitary individual or some amalgam of recovered thoughts pasted together from under the weight of too many other ones equally trivial to his present existence. How it could be fitted together into some rational explanation that would satisfy a mindset of modern psychology being impossible to say. A festin d’pierre in a more dramatic theatrical sense to his lackluster Don Giovanni? A badly weathering stony presence set upon another hint of memorial for the sake of a random momentary remembrance? Perhaps? But then, having been resisting a lingering cold now encroaching him from every side of his mattress, something of secondary concern.