Monday, January 3, 2011
Indications That I'm Reading Too Much Neil Gaiman?
MathMan's alarm sounded at 5:45a.m. I'm part relieved, part not. But not for the reasons you might think.
I was dreaming.
It was early morning. We were just stirring. Chloe was here instead of at school. The first up. She'd had a shower. I could smell the cocoa butter scent of her body wash when I went into the hallway. She was just finishing dressing in the living room when the doorbell rang.
I stood at the top of the short flight of stairs that leads to the top floor of our rented split level. My eyes met Chloe's. She must have still been dancing because she wore a red leotard and black tights with black shorts over them.
"I'll get the door," I said before descending the stairs. I looked down at myself to see if I was dressed, but I don't remember what I was wearing.
As I turned the doorknob to the heavy-looking, but quite cheap hollow metal front door, the door pushed in and three women and a young, fat man stood just inside the living room. We have no foyer or hallway entrance. The front door opens right into the living room.
I craned my neck to look around the women and man and saw that the wooden stairs leading from the sidewalk up to the house was lined with people and a crowd had formed on the lawn. More people streamed off a tour bus. It wasn't a fancy charter bus. It was a yellow school bus.
"Whoa! Hang on!" I shouted at the woman in the lead. She was taller than me, pretty of face. Her makeup was nicely done and she wore her dark blond hair in a stylish cut. When I was a kid, we called her hair color dishwater blond, but I'm not sure that's such a complimentary term anymore. You don't hear it much. And what with so many people having dishwashers, would anyone really know what that means these days?
"I used to live here!" The woman was speaking to the crowd as much as to me.
I put my hands up as if to push the crowd back or to at least ward them off. "Yes, but it's early. There are people just waking and getting dressed." I glanced up the stairs and saw MathMan, his hair still damp from his shower, in the hallway looking annoyed and confused behind his glasses.
"I want to show them the basement. The walled-off room." The dishwater blond woman was saying.
I looked at her and her large hazel eyes and red sweater. Someone snapped a photo.
She was talking again. "There were murders here. You did know that, right? People were killed in this house."
Time stopped for just a second. Over the noises of the crowd, I thought I heard Chloe gasp, but maybe the gasp came from me.
"Yes, of course, we knew about the murders," I lied. "But you really must wait outside. My family..." I looked at the crowd. All the women had dishwater blond hair, nice makeup, stylish haircuts and pretty faces. They all wore red sweaters. Some had windbreakers on over their sweaters, but they wore them unzipped so that the red of their sweaters showed through. Like their chests had been sliced open and were bleeding.
I thought about what Nathan had said about the basement creeping him out when he used to have his bedroom down there. I thought about the occasional strange noises that came from the laundry room. I thought about how our cats pawed at the wall that separated the laundry room from the garage and the storage area beneath the stairs. I looked at the woman in the lead.
"Murders, you say?"
Her chest heaved with excitement. "Yes. Downstairs. In the room that's been walled off."
I looked again toward the stairs. MathMan was still there. He shrugged. Behind him, Nate was coming out of the bathroom. He must have showered. A towel was wrapped around his waist, his chest was bare and he wore a towel like a turban wound around his head. I thought of Ferris Bueller.
I turned back to the woman. Chloe was right behind me now. She pinched my elbow and said, "Mom? Murders?"
"Okay, but you'll have to go around to the back," I pointed out the door that was now jammed with people.
"That's fine. I'll lead the way." The woman who was just stating the obvious pushed through the people toward the door.
The crowd turned in unison and followed her down the wooden steps. I could see her in the yard waving her arms and speaking to the crowd of red sweaters.
MathMan's alarm went off. It's on his phone and has a kind of Eastern tone to it. Like Bollywood telling to you to get a move on.
I rolled over to see MathMan checking messages on his phone. The dream was gone.