We’d wondered about the ghost in the neighborhood for a really long time. Me and my boyfriend had, I just told you about it. Then last night with no warning my boyfriend mentioned that he’d seen him at the Food Pit, up close, in person, a few days before, without telling me.
The Food Pit is the real-life name of the gas station/convenience store in our neighborhood. I guess it’s like the Peach Pit in the original 90210, except a bit more honest. They didn’t serve or sell the stones of fruit at the Peach Pit. The Food Pit sells “food,” and it is a bit of a hole.
I have had a craving for grape bubblegum so fierce I might just go pee on a plastic stick just to prove what I already know: I’m not pregnant. But I’m so psyched out over wanting grape gum I’ve even got him eating like there’s no tomorrow–he’s hysterically pregnant now. Life is cray-cray up in here. And it’s harder to find grape bubblegum than one would think, just to twist the knife.
We were both so happy about the grape gum (and the Lifesavers that the boyfriend got, a really nasty kind that I haven’t learned to get a taste for yet–I’m like a bacterium when it comes to sweets. I can learn to eat about any kind there is if it’s the only thing around, but I do have my preferences), that he forgot to tell me about the Ghost!
The Ghost was standing in front of him in line at the Food Pit. The Ghost is in his mid-forties. There are two wireless speakers attached to the handlebars of his bicycle. And he isn’t a ghost. He is a man, made of meat and bones and skin, not ectoplasm and fear and regret and longing.
“I think he’s a connect,” my boyfriend said.
And it all clicked! Of course. The music, the bike, the slow roll, the night, the reason we’re fascinated with him, the everything. He’s the ice cream man.
He has a reason to be out. He’s just going for a ride. Anyone can stop to talk to him. And they can hear him coming, so they get their money together and then come out of their houses. And the cops don’t have any reason to stop this guy. He’s just sharing the joy of music with the neighborhood. He probably isn’t a big time guy. Maybe he’s just making deliveries for the club, I don’t know.
I have no proof this is what’s up. I don’t know his life. But suspected small fish rolling through the neighborhood is far less interesting than undead spirit riding a ghost trick bike across the earth. I’m still considering this mystery solved.
A little more than a year ago, we moved across the street from Pinkeye Beach. Seriously, it’s beautiful, and it’s smells all wonderful salt and wet and thick on my face, and I love driving on the highway next to the water, and there’s red tail hawk that hunts from the tree across from our kitchen window sometimes, so majestic, and the campfires smell so wonderful (until someone starts smoking something that smells more like plastic and tar and 151), but really, that water will get you sick.
Never mind that the ocean is nature’s toilet. Never mind that there is always a dead sea lion on the beach (that’s why the dogs always start running as soon as they are off leash–they’re looking for that sweet rotting sea lion). Never mind that there are a million other dead things there; that’s why Pinkeye Beach is covered in crows and pigeons. Kick the bulb of the bull whip kelp and a million flies pour out of it like it’s a corpse’s eyeball.
Never mind all that: there are floaters in the water. You see them every time you go there. The treatment plant is right at the end of Sloat Boulevard. That’s grody. Don’t go in there. At least get a hep-B series first.
Our apartment is one floor up, over the garages, and goes through the building, but it isn’t a railroad, I don’t think. My desk is by the dunes side (we’d have to be on the upper floor to have a view of the beach proper). My boyfriend has the street side. At night, when we eat and watch our stories (y’all, I am just now learning how fucking great Prison Break is. I can’t understand how I slept on this shit for so long), and at night, that’s when this magic happens. A ghost rolls under the windows.
For months and months, we didn’t see it, just heard it. It went too fast to be walking, and too slow to be driving, and too quiet to be on a skateboard. So it had to either be a) disembodied, or b) on a bike. The weird thing: always blasting 1980s hiphop, like Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill Gang, Kool Moe Dee, and almost always the same ones, like he had a Time Life collection of Greatest Hits CDs, or an 8-track.
It didn’t help that the ghost was fleet of foot. Every time we heard him, we looked, but ghosts get, well, ghost. He was always gone.
Finally: a man rolled by when we were by the window for no reason on a BMX bike, blasting some LL Cool J. He looked young, but it was from far away. Maybe he got hit by the train? Or a car? Maybe he has a message from the 1980s to share with us? A message of peace and freedom through rapping? I can say that hearing Kool Moe Dee and other old school beats made me happy as hell.
Since we saw him once, we see him often. He very much seems male. He is always alone. He is always with music. We can’t tell if other people can see him or not. I want to know his story, since the ones I write for people and ghosts are certainly wrong.
(This is the song I always want the DJ to play, but I think requesting shit from the DJ is rude. I want the ghost to play it, too, but I think requesting shit from a ghost is pointless and rude.)
Glory be. World without end.
I’m not sure today if I made it.
I don’t know. Today feels familiar, like I’ve lived it already, but it feels wrong. Dirty shirt, smells like BO. Gross. Open a box of shoes: there are sweaty footprints on the insoles, and they aren’t mine. I don’t think. Are they? I can’t tell. Why can’t I tell? That’s a simple question. Are these your shoes, Seer?
Is this your life? Well? Is it? I’m asking you a question.
As it was in the beginning.
And I’m in my mother’s house, and she’s got the sutures, and they’re terrible terrible things, looking just awful, but it’s okay it’s okay it’s all okay and everything will be okay and I can forget forget about yesterday yesterday when I was fetal curled up in my own safeness crying because I had to come here it’s okay I can forget that it’s okay to be here forget if you don’t think about it you can’t smell the piss. I have to wash my hair three times to get the ammonia out in the morning. Forget it it forget.
World without end.
Sometimes I wonder if I really died, you know. There were some times I came close. When people shook the very death off of me like I had leeches on my back. And I wonder if I came back to the world I knew I knew the world I knew was born into and of or stepped into a Purgatory version. Am I paying off my debts now? Do I ever get a list of what they are? A receipt?
And ever shall be.
If I were dead, how would I know? Do the dead know? Would I even know.
Fiesta Cat introduced a new idea to me. I just discovered spat boots. They have a folded down cowl around the ankle. They’re trendy and a little orthopedic looking. I asked her if I could get away with buying some. See, I’m not one to change out her shoes every season. They have to last me past when they’re no longer fashionable. Fortunately, I don’t live in a fashionable town. I live in a place where people do their own things. Like make dog rickshaws (no picture at that link, just the story of how I saw one, for reals for reals).
Whenever someone who hasn’t been back from New York in a minute comes home to the Yay Area, two things happen. First off, they are cold if it is summertime. They forget that it’s going to be 50º F at night. Secondly, they see some fools wearing some shit you won’t see anywhere else, simply because societal pressures won’t allow it other places. The shame deficit here is high. You get viking helmets and shit. Sock garters and shorts. Hot pants and shearling vests with pantyhose and Crocs. I will pit San Francisco against any other town for pure balls to the walls cray-cray dressing any day of the week.
Okay, so there’s a ghost in my house. There has to be. I live alone, and the heater is turned on every time I walk by the thermostat. There’s no way I’m turning this thing on without my knowledge. There’s no way the switch is falling up. Gravity is a theory like evolution is a theory, and germs are a theory, and cells are a theory. (You may not believe in ghost theory. Bully for you, buddy. Your thermostat is static, and you’ve never had invisible cats on your bed at night. I’ve said too much.) And there’s no way I want the house to be seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not doing it unconsciously physically, or with the power of my mind.
I do have a little knowledge of ghosts. They can often be appeased with worldly things. But you have to know what they want, and they don’t tell you want they want, because they are counterdependent assholes. You can take that one to the bank, my friend. So you have to read their invisible, nonexistent minds.