By Bill Clactoe.
This happened in Baltimore and at the end of September. David West, a lonely, troubled, white boy of twenty-five, shared an apartment with Elsa at a central spot in town, at Upper Fell's Point. He lived in a predominantly black city, was currently on social security and did not know what to do with his life.
Young West had smooth North European or British features, and his pale face was broad with marked eyebrows and his eyes deeply set and dark blue. There ran a furrow between the small eyebrows. Most of the time, he, therefore, unfortunately, had an angry or dissatisfied look. Furthermore, the little, red mouth was open all the time. Maybe there was something wrong with the ventilator function of his small nose. Davis's blond hair was thin and had a beige tone. He wore what once had been a postmodern, neat, worn jeans dress, but now looked like rags. Mahogany colored boots with high heels made him look a little bit taller, being of middle height. His movements were quite irregular, insecure, and had no musicality in them or any timing at all. As a whole, his walk was just some sort of combined jerking and swaying. David was an outsider, a loner, and a real sissy. He was – not surprisingly – thus full of despair. As a small remedy, he often carried a small bottle of reddish Baltimore beet extract with him - and a Glock pistol.
David was alone on a Sunday afternoon. It looked as if it was going to rain. Despite this, he decided to take a short walk in the yards close to where he lived, at St. Vincent's Cemetery, which was almost as snug and flowery as the famous gardens at Cylburn Mansion. A small white-breasted nuthatch sat picking on a branch in an elm tree that stood by a grave a few yards from him. It sat upside down, which David never saw before. "Perhaps that bird is crazy," he thought. He knew that his thoughts used to be "all over the place." It was long since he had been able to concentrate upon anything at all. Some people seemed to think that David was soulless. However, David was no junkie. Last summer, he had been using cocaine for a short period. That was it. David promised himself not to use any stimulants, ever. He had begun experiencing abnormal things and having visual hallucinations. These were unpleasant experiences, and David had interpreted it as a result of drug use. Because of this, he had decided that – at least – he intended not to perish because of drugs. In August last year, he made that decision on the 23rd, and he was determined never to go back to cocaine, or any other medication, come what may! This decision was so damned steadfast for an apparent and distinct reason. The hallucinations hadn't ceased to come.
The tiny nuthatch in the tree looked at him. Its small black eye fixated him in a way that was not crazy at all. The bird looked friendly and a little begging. David often thought about the psyche of animals. It was almost magic to try to understand their urge and their simple doings. Sometimes David used to feed the ravens, crows, and the magpies in town. He knew that the crows in the harbor remembered him. They sometimes followed him around at the piers.
He knew of those few people, who had learned to live a full and a social life, hallucinating. Within the cultural realm, there were many examples. David always had had an enormous appetite for books. Writers like Baudelaire, de Quincey, and Coleridge had learned to live a life, including daily visions. But he, he simply didn't want to. He wanted to be safe and sound, unaffected by substances from bright-colored mushrooms, striped snakes, and blossoms, so red that no cameras could grasp their redness. He just didn't want to live a life like that! Because of these experiences, thoughts, and feelings, David was downhearted almost continuously. Nobody suspected the real reason for his murky features. He had not told anybody. It never occurred to David that most of these people could – in theory – have hallucinations. However, David simply did not believe that was the case. He would have heard them complain, and they did not. David also didn't know if other people, both in Baltimore and elsewhere, shared his experience. It didn't seem like that. Many kids in Baltimore were on drugs, though. It was a common habit. Widely known was that many kids even earned their living in selling drugs. Maybe a few of those kids had hallucinations and did not tell anybody but just continued to take their dope because they were ashamed. They doped themselves into eternity. David, though, wanted to return to square one. David was not only experiencing hallucinations in the evenings and the mornings. He was also having delusions during the day. David wondered if the experiences of the unreal ever would vanish. Either, he thought, they would stay, and he would never be able to be as clear and bright in his head as he had been before, or they would – right out of the blue - simply stop. It was also possible that the future would present a middle way: He would perhaps suffer mild aberrations from the saneness he so dearly worshiped. No doctor, psychologist, not even magician or spiritualist could tell anybody the long-term result of abstinence. He could just hope that he one day would get rid of all this tumultuous suffering. He thought about it repeatedly and continuously. It was all a mixture of deep sorrow and faint hope. He barely had any money, but still decided to go down to the drugstore to buy some milk. Politically he regarded himself as an anarchist.
Eric Cedric Goldkettel, an elderly Connecticut medical doctor born in Tidwell, Maine, was tormented by the most unhappy love. Once a day, in the morning hours, in half slumber, Eric's memories of the beautiful, voluptuous Martha appeared from the forgotten. It only glimpsed by in the after dreams visual realm, among dream figures that never existed and would never exist, among the memories of a half-forgotten unhappy love. This inconceivable loneliness followed him unconsciously like a shadow in the Connecticut countryside. The pine forests almost constantly refused to solace his mourning. The silence of the landscape brought "a month of Mondays…." to his soul.
The doctor had early on taken a fancy in western Connecticut's rural landscape. Reader's mansion was situated, embedded in the most enchanting greenery, on a slope by a lake. The house itself was a wooden castle, and it had a small guesthouse built of yellow brick nearby. The village, which was the closest village, Bloomside Grove, situated by the lake's outflow, by the old brick mill ruin, was but sparsely populated. The church of the parish, which was a Quaker one, was but a tiny reddish shed. Reader's mansion was surrounded by pinewood. The landscape tried to market itself as a recreation ground for youngsters, fishing and riding as main attractions. Retired people populated several houses; many had moved back from Florida or Georgia not long ago. In Bloomside Grove itself, some IT-entrepreneurs had tried to build a small Silicon Valley. Still, the houses now – in this massive global depression - were deserted and torn. Even a theatre had been built, but it was used as an inline skating rink. The local Quakers were fervent though in their religious tremor. The parson of the small congregation, Jansen, summoned it to service every Sunday. Jansen held, especially for children, adorable predictions, which all contradicted science, of which he was incredibly proud. Burg Lake was always black – and was said to have a monster in it and had an air of romance and autism. The lake had its name after a local tyrant. Long ago, Mr. Burg had built his house near the lake, on an aboriginal graveyard. He had been shot dead by an apache arrow. His name had been Burg the Porcelain Potter. The hills around the lake, tiny as they were, stretched their heads. The mountains seemed as uninterested in the small pond as in the pastures and the waterways. Mountains are always stuck-up. A couple of swans swam in the middle of the lake, chasing brown ducks along the surface of the shallow water. Signs around the lake were informing people of climate change and the necessity to keep nature clean and free from drugs. The pine forest had a sad look, and some people had heard the trees whisper ominously in the night:" Everything is long gone. Long gone. Long gone. The ravens are gone. The ravens are gone. It is way too late." Jansen Quakers were the dominant tribe in the small valley. Most people here did not even own a car but drove around on motorcycles. Goldkettel had a car, an old white Buick. No electric vehicle had ever been spotted in Bloomside Grove.
A Cessna airplane suddenly flew by, and the swans on the lake hurried ashore. One might frequently see the doctor walking the small paths around the lake, stick in hand. Goldkettel was old, and he was antique, bucktoothed, and outdated. Today, an ordinary September Sunday, it looked like it was going to rain. Goldkettel's open eyes narrowed, and he took out a small foldable cap from his waist pocket and put on his grey hair. Soon the rain splattered down on the remote landscape by the Burg Lake. Close to Reading's, there was another property owned by the Delmonte's. The houses of Goldkettel and Delmonte lay in a suite by the lakeshore. Goldkettel's was the one westward, more toward the deep forest and the stuck-up mountains. Behind Delmonte's, there was more mixed vegetation and finally, to the east on bushy meadows lonely, utterly small cows of foreign breed were straying around looking for fresh grass and snails. Paul Delmonte was a well-to-do author of colorful bird books. He lived alone together with a young, dark-haired philosophy student from NY. She served as a temporary housekeeper. Aged 23, this eager student, who looked upon this job as a pleasant variation, went by the name of Armamente Dulcinea.
When Eric Goldkettel arrived at his house again, he glanced in the direction of his closest neighbor's house, at the Palace, Delmonte's mansion. So he caught a glimpse of young Armamente, how she, dressed in a simple black gown, stretched for a small glass. A red rosette in her raven hair threw out some small decorative mats from a balcony. The girl had dark hair, greyish eyes, and pale skin. She waved at Goldkettel and whistled. She did not now notice the rain, and she fed the cat, which, striped and small, gently stroked her leg. Armamente seemed just a kid, a schoolgirl. But she had an air of intelligence and awareness about her.
"What a beautiful day!" she shouted.
Bill Clactoe. Writer of crime and fiction, currently living in Europe.
H e is currently living in Europe.
Bill Clactoe is an International Short Story Author and a Novelist.
This book is set in Baltimore.