November 3, 2014: Coffee With The Queen

The three days of the day have ended.
I watched costumed children collect candy as the street lights flicked on.
Night fell and the streets were over run with teenagers, giving the night a more sinister feel.

I watched the Halloween parade from a balcony in the Village. People came from all over to participate, traveling hundreds of miles to dress up and walk. I never saw the fun in it.

I sat on a stoop Saturday night. Drinking spiked coffee and watching the secret parade.
Not many people know, or can see, the All Souls Day parade.

The sun had set, but the streetlights stayed off. Crowds of ghosts and spirits ran whooping through the streets, throwing petals and air kisses.
A tall woman sat next to me on the stairs. Her long bony fingers opening my thermos and pouring herself coffee.

It takes a special person to be able to see my children. All eyes focus on Halloween, darting around, finding fear induced frights. They don’t understand the real festivities.

She smiled, her mouth was large, stars twinkling on her lips.
I held up a flask and offered it to her.
We spiked our coffee and watched the ghost children run after the adults, playing in the dying flowers.

Your people do all of this and forget to celebrate the dead. Really celebrate them, I mean. They think by dressing up they’ll scare the ghosts away. Ghosts do not frighten.

Her clothes were rags and she wore a hat, perched on white-blonde hair.

The wind changed as midnight came and went. I shivered, but I wasn’t cold. The spirits fled and disappeared into shadows.
Something was coming. Something different.

She stood up and asked me to follow.
We wandered the streets of Midtown, passing the flask back and forth.

Grand Central Station.

Your people go through this spot more than any other spot in this city. The traffic of the living is electric, a conduit for the other people. Watch closely. With every step a ghost latches on. With every missed train a demon grins drunkenly. This is a hot bed, a door way.

I followed her inside. Business people running back and forth, specters clinging on tight, the lights flickering and the train tracks humming.

She slid her long fingers along mine and took me by the hand.

We weren’t in Grand Central anymore. We weren’t even in New York.
The walls were bones. The woman holding my hand was a tall skeleton in strips of cloth with a conical hat. Her presence felt reassuring. I wasn’t scared. I wanted to be but I felt drugged and calm.

This is the land of my people. Up above, it is the day we all celebrate together. The Day of the Dead is just beginning. Our worlds will become one for the night. Stay by my side and learn.

Back in the living New York we sat at an outside table eating sweet breads and drinking more coffee. Skull faced families sing and dance and send prayers for their loved ones who have moved on.
Their loved ones dance behind, nibbling on the sweets that had been offered to them.

Look at them. The living in death paint and the dead parading behind them. They have no idea they are there.

I take pictures of the dancers. A few close-ups of the make up and pour more whisky into the coffee.

She’s here, you know. Somewhere. We could find her if you’d like. You deserve something, after all you have shared your drink and food with me.

She smiled and touched my hand.

But you don’t want to, do you? All those prayers and all of that blood magic you played around with. It was all to make you feel better, wasn’t it?
I understand, I really do. It’s okay to let go of someone, to move on.
You’ve been faced with the other more times in the last two weeks than most people do in their lifetimes.
It changes your perspective.

She dabs at the corners of her mouth with a napkin, careful not to ruin her lipstick.

If you change your mind, let me know. I’ve had my eye on you for a while now.
Now, let’s find a place to dance and celebrate.

I tried to shake my head, but she stopped me and kissed my forehead.

No one denies the request of the Queen. Especially not on this night.

I woke up today, Monday, on the stairs to my apartment. A sugar skull in one pocket and a flask of black rum in the other.
It was well after noon.
I looked out the front door, a paper crown rolled in the wind down the street.

The dead have left for another year.

It was time to move on.

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