High Adventure



The 44th floor open air balcony view from the westside was as magnificent as any brisk October cityscape that Manhattan could offer, especially now that the evening lights of the city had just begun twinkling. The Jersey and Brooklyn shore views of the city are always better and it is true that it's too bright to really see many stars here, but then one doesn't really need to since the city is chuckfull of so many self proclaimed ones anyway.

Maybe it's just all been getting to me lately. I haven't really been myself. And despite its shortcomings I've grown to love this town, this building, this lofty living space no, call it loving space. It has been just that since my eyes met Rebecca's. Deep green eyes with a perfect glow that can instantly mezmerize whoever or whatever they see. Eyes that can instantly transport the gazed upon to another place only to be gently returned to reality a moment later. But during that entrancing, amorous moment one becomes encased in a completely safe and warm felicity. A kind of down home happiness, one might say. Never once does the thought of going back to the real world ever occur. To call it a simple look of love would be a finality. It is, in a strange way, much more than that.

This evening my daydreaming was interrupted by the slow electric ring of the door bell. Our guests had arrived. Tonight was Halloween and for the first time in many years we decided to go all out both in attire and spirit--by attending a full blown costume party at a friend's loft in the village.

We hoped the occasion would revel the memorable times of grammar school years when caring was directed not to relationships and business, or towards science and art, but to those truly important things: lunchtime, anything that occurred after the 3:00 PM school dismissal, Christmas and summer vacations, and of course, Halloween.

Through the orange cardboard pumpkin and yellow brown cornstalk adorned door came the first of the troupe: Louise and Bob dressed as Laurel and Hardy, respectively. They stood within the space of the door with Louise massaging her head and whimpering while Bob stared adamantly at me as though I was the camera's vision way to an awaiting 1930's audience. Turning to Louise he convincingly said, "This is another nice mess you've gotten me into. Um, um...UM!" accenting his play acting anger by twiddling his tie with a few fingers and an extended pinky or two.

"Where did you get the fat suit?" I said. "It's great!"

"Don't ask!" Bob sputtered. It cost me fifty bucks. Hey, where is everybody anyway. Louise, I told you we left too early."

"Don't you two worry abou it. They'll be along in no time. Sit down and have a drink." I broke out the vino; it was red this season. I could never keep up with this city's constant trendiness. If it's not one new thing, it's another. As I filled the glasses I asked, "Where's Dan and Gerri?"

"They're down in the lobby talking to Rebecca." They'll be up in a second. We saw her carrying a bag with her costume in it. I think it was a costume. What's she gonna be, anyway?" Louise asked.

"Beats the heck outta me. Rebecca's been so secretive this past week. You know as much as I do. This whole thing was really her idea. I can't take any blame for this fiasco," I laughed.

Having left the door half open, Dan and Gerri tangoed in dressed like flowery Spanish dancers mutually humming "Fernando's Hideaway". Seeing us they then glanced at each other and cracked up giggling before even finishing the first verse. "Hi everybody!" Gerri cheerfully offered in an unusually blushing deep tone. "We made it!"

"I told you not to eat those hallucinogenic tacos, amigos. They make you loco," Bob blurted out mimicking Ricky Ricardo. "The Arthur Murrey thing is la morte gringos!"

Bob motioned them to the low living room table and had Dan and Gerri indulge themselves in the preparty vegetables and onion dip while I put the finally touches on my disguise. It was a simple costume. The kind I used to love to wear when I was a kid: the traditional white sheet over the head with cutout holes for the eyes and mouth The typical ghost. I had considered being a pirate, but Rebecca had reminded me of how much I had loved the ghost get up; she had actually insisted. Because the whole night was her brainchild, I simply went along. It was extremely practical attire, if nothing else.

Another knock on the door brought me out of my mind's private conversation again and back to the present. Dennis and his wife, Susan, appeared with at least five other people, none of which I knew. The party was to be somewhat of an open house anyway so the more, the merrier. But the most pleasant surprise was seeing Carmine and his new Japanese bride, Miko. They were dressed in authentic Japanese vestments of shimmering colors: he as a Samurai and she as a geisha, white face and all. Carmine's Coke-bottle thick glasses hap hazardly mended with tape did change the Japenese aire, but he did have to see where he was going.

"Come on in everybody. I'm sure we can fit another ten people in here," I said eyeing Dennis and then jokingly pushing him through the door.
Bobby lit some candles and dimmed the living room lights while vocalizing far away eery cries and screams. "Listen, while we're waiting, let's get in the mood and tell some scary stories. What do ya say?" he tempted. "You mean like from horror movies?" Dennis naively inquired.
"No, no. Stuff that's happened to you. Real stuff."

"I saw a UFO once. I think it was a shooting star though because it kept moving pretty steady," Suzy calmly said as she lit a Canadian smoke.
"That's a satellite. Everybody knows that, you...you space cadet!" he quickly responded without realizing his sarcasm.

"Ok, OK! For cryin' out loud! So she's no astronaut," Dennis defended. "Well, let's hear your story then."

"Alright, alright," Bob started. "My next door neighbor's son, I remember, told his mother that Grandma had come to see him last night." Bob's voice became very low and clear, as though every detail needed emphasis, distinction. "The next day the mother, that is, my next door neighbor, found out that her mother, that is, the Grandma..."

"Alright already!!" Carmine jokingly screamed.

"...OK, OK!...the mother found out that her mother had died at about the same hour as the kid had seen her. The kid was only five and the grandmother had visited America only once and that was three years before. The kid didn't even really know what she looked like, but described her almost perfectly," he paused and looked at the faces that surrounded him. "To this day I still remember her sitting in the kitchen with my Mom telling her the story tears dripping and all. Not to mention the expression on her face. It was really strange, you know."
"I saw a man in my bedroom window one night and it looked just like my brother only a lot older," Louise confessed. "I mean, like a lot older. Eighty or so. It turns out that my brother looks like my grandfather pretty weird, heh? When I told my mother she showed me an old picture of him I almost feinted."

"You wanna hear something really strange?" I offered. "I saw a ghost once. And I'm positive I saw it."
"Sure you did...ah, check please!" Bob needled, snapping his fingers for an imaginary waiter. "How can you be so sure," he demanded. "You got pictures or somethin'?"

"I tell you how. I was in the eighth grade and hanging out with me were my friends Mikey and Bobby D. We decided to cut school one day and take a walk. It was too nice a spring day to be cooped up in some classroom anyhow. And on top of that, it was a gym day too. We would have probably got really dirty and would have had to take showers and feel slimy all day. So, in the morning, when we got off the bus we just went to our usual hangout and had a smoke and headed for the parkway woods.

"We figured we'd walk to the Bethpage Park golf course and have breakfast at the club house. To get there you had to walk along the Bethpage Parkway. It was surrounded by woods on both sides. It had a bicycle path along each side, well along most of each side, anyway. Now we weren't drinking or anything, OK? I mean it was only eight thirty in the morning. We were totally straight."
"Hold the story a minute, will ya? Miko, let me explain," Carmine said softly, interpreting, as best he could, the story in Japanese for her. When he was through he nodded to continue.

"OK Carmine?...So now we were on the east side of the parkway. The parkway runs north and south..." "Look, we know you were a Boy Scout, OK? South smouth! Forget the directions already," Bob cried impatiently.

Ignoring Bob's interruption I stiffly began again, "We were walking on the east side going south, just talking and stuff. And we were on the part of the path where you couldn't see the parkway anymore because of the trees and bushes. But as we walked along, a clear area opened up and you could see across the parkway to the heavily treed area on the other side. This was the section, on the west side," I glanced at Bob waiting for another outburst from him and then continued, "that had no bicycle path. You could barely get into it because of all the sticker bushes. Then all three of us stopped cold. I mean goose bumps and all kind of cold.

"We saw this women there. She was wearing some kind of black and white head ornament like a hat or something and she had on a black dress. And it was long, real long. She looked normal enough, but I swear to God you could see right through her."
Carmine translated and Miko clutched his hand as she fixed her eyes on mine.

"We stared at her, and then she turned her head like she saw us or something, and then she...she disappeared! It was almost as if she shot straight up into the air or something. "All three of us went crazy not knowing if we should laugh or scream, which we did both of. And then we ran and ran until we were out of breath and out of sight of her.

"I never told anyone about it except my brother because he believed in stuff like that. Then about seven years later, when I was in college, I made friends with this guy Paul. He was over my house one day and my brother and him were talking about scary stories and things, and Paul starts to tell about when he was a kid. He said that one day he was looking in the parkway woods for some special kind of branch to make a bow and arrow from and just as he was about to cut the thing with his axe, a women dressed like a Quaker, with the hat, the dress, etc., etc., appears out of nowhere and is like five feet in front of him. He panicked, throw the axe at her, and ran. Now, while Paul is telling this, I'm looking at my brother and he's looking at me and we're both going nuts! Then I told Paul what happened to me and he went nuts!

"And you wanna know how I'm positive about it being a real ghost? I'll tell you why I'm so positive about it. We went to the town hall there and found out that the parkway was built over Quaker and Indian graveyards. There's still a Meeting House there across from the golf course and it's still used."

"You know, it's funny...Paul got married there a few years ago. Now that's weird. I almost forgot about that myself. I'll have to call him," I thought out loud.

"Well, that's it," I said. "What do you think?" No one responded. "Ok, Ok. Let's not all go into a comma now," I said cheerfully. "Let's finish our drinks."

Carmine finished translating to Miko and she looked terrified. Maybe it was her traditional Japanese background. I don't know, but whatever it was she got a real baptism of fire where Halloween was concerned.

Louise came by and nudged me as I was cleaning some glasses at the kitchen sink and whispered, "Did you really see it?" "Yes," I said stoically. She just nervously laughed and went quietly back to the living room.

For some reason time seemed to move slower now. We had regrouped in the living room and waited patiently to leave. The front door slowly creaked open and within its frame stood Rebecca, or the person that I thought had been Rebecca all these months or had it been years? I couldn't remember now. I couldn't remember anything now. All I could see was Rebecca. She was strangely dressed in a black Quaker dress with her strawberry blonde hair capped by an ornate head cover. She became transparent as she glided a few feet above the living room floor towards me. She floated higher and began circling the room in midair while howling a long, rhythmic, mind numbing shriek at the occupants of the room. She drifted to the floor, still shrieking, and then shook what seemed to be two small boy dolls, which she clutched in her right hand, directly at me, and from her left threw another all to familiar looking one holding a small hand axe into my face. It was alive and scratched my skin as it fell to the floor. In an exploding flash her glowing green eyes lit the entire room and then became eternally fixed on mine. As her hands began to squeeze my doll-like body, I finally understood. Amidst my amazement and screams, Miko fainted.

Giliberti 2011