I imagined myself peering from inside a glowing red bulb on a decorated Christmas tree. A lonely, gaily decorated cedar among a field of stark white trees powdered with December snow. Regardless of the time of year, it was always the holiday season in my jeweled jail on Penn Avenue.
I peered beyond my hued windows to the vast emptiness outside. I knew there existed locales beyond that empty field (bars, dinner, theatre, movies, friends, a social life, a dating life) but nothing in my strength could coax me to grip the doorknob and simply turn. Beyond the copse of trees there were eyes spying back at me.
The siren of too many glowing screens enchanted me oh so willingly. Lashed to my own mast, the fog swirled and her song kept me happily alone. My weekend's sole interaction: the cold repetition of my location to the Chinese girl answering the Mexican take-out hotline.
The shuffle of feet, the opening and closing of doors, comings and goings of roommates into the night, as I sat inside my genie's bottle waiting to be rubbed. My paranoia became my own mythology. Eager to grant wishes, yet panicked at the world outside my colorful pot, synonymous with bottle.
That was years ago. He was a different dandy. So I thought. Suddenly I sense those eyes peering back to me from outside the windows. High above the ground, a fourth floor flat, those phantoms float. My apartment is turning red. My safe space already splashed with so much red.
Too many distractions threaten to keep me inside, to keep me away from libations and forced conversations. Those ghostly eyes fixate on me as I quietly stand, like a museum’s armor in the corner of the bar.
“Is he angry? Why is he so quiet?”
Or as I try too hard…
“Is he a buffoon? Why is he laughing so loudly?”
That’s my voice speaking, however.
And though the gentlest soul, a soul I love and trust, has managed to coax me from my window, there are nights my chest physically vibrates from the anxiety and the tension as the clock strikes twelve and the night becomes morning and more and more I’m peering at the world through a hexagonal casement of melting ice-cubes, as much a prison as that paralyzing red window once was.
The anticipation of his weekend departure leaves me filled with trepidation. A weekend alone and I’m again prepared to chain my ankles, to lock myself in Hannibal’s cage and wheel myself onto my big green sofa, waiting for him to return and set me free. With the utmost sincerity, he’s asked his friends to take me out while he’s away.
I’m a puppy who needs walking…
Not a big deal, seriously. Much appreciated, but awkward, nonetheless. An act coming from kindness, but still awkward. Everything he does comes from kindness. I’m the one who perceives the awkwardness. No less awkward, I suppose, than cementing myself behind a wall of discarded pizza boxes for five days.
My Cask of Amontillado is a liter of Fresca. It is certainly easier to write fantasy instead of non-fiction: a simple tale about a man in his red window, unlocked and free, still unable to leave.