Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
It was late July.
The summer mangoes had dropped from the trees and were lying rotting on the ground, ripped open by feasting bugs and birds. Their intoxicating sweet smell mixed with the heaviness of the night blooming jasmine. This languid perfume created a thick, rarefied atmosphere that at times made breathing difficult. In Miami, nature is often a mix of colorful abundance and dark decay.
This evening, I was walking home from a friend’s birthday party. We had listened to the new Rolling Stones’s album, “Aftermath” then turned off the lights and pretended to make out with the nearest girl. Some party. But then again, this was 1966 and I was only fourteen.
It was long after eleven. I should have been home hours ago but was having too much fun to leave the party. As I approached my father’s house, I realized that I had forgotten my keys. The porch lights were on, my father’s car was parked out front but the house was completely dark. He must have gone to bed early.
Not wanting to startle him, I knocked somewhat timidly. A tornado of mosquitoes brought on by the summer rains swarmed around my head.
I knocked again, this time louder. “Pop, it’s me, open up.” No response. Not hearing any movement from inside, I became concerned that something was wrong. I decided to walk back to my friend’s house to use his phone to call my father. As I turned to leave, I heard the front door’s deadbolt click open. Relieved, I spin around ready to greet my father and apologize for coming home so late.
As I stood there, the front door remained closed. I was wondering if the sound I had heard was just a very loud cricket or a buffo toad looking for a mate. Then, ever so slowly, like in some black and white horror movie, the door began to creak open. From the shadows emerged a tall man with grayish skin. I had never seen this guy before; he had the stature and demeanor of Lurch. Without any introduction, he looked at me with a cool stare and said in a flat robot-like voice, “We are currently in communication with the master souls of the eleventh plane. Your father is deep in trance and cannot be disturbed.”
Lurch began to back away and close the door. He then paused and asked, “Why did you even bother to knock? After all, you are your father’s son. Haven’t you learned to walk through walls yet?”
Excerpted with permission from Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith; Atria: Hardcover, 352 pages.
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