Cardinal Desires, a page

Posted by Nightingale | 10:00 PM | 4 comments »

The beauty and the horror of what he saw made him tremble. In a place where only darkness should have been, light glared, hurting his eyes. A surreal gabble of voices floated on a dissonant wave of music. The squawk of a horn startled him, but he remained motionless, drowning in strange sensations and images. When his vision cleared, he was too weak and shaken to leave the sanctuary of the shadowed archway. It was night, that was somehow important, but it wasn’t really dark. An odd diffusion of pinkish light colored the indigo sky. He knew where he was. Yet this wilderness couldn't be the home he remembered.
Everywhere, disorder and decay surrounded him. Wild roses choked the coral archway above his head. The flagstone path lay like a crumpled ribbon flung down in the chaos of flowers and vines that had once been the formal garden. He felt like a sleepwalker, awakening in the wrong time and place. His heart wept for lost years, but his eyes burned, unable to cry.
It seemed like yesterday that the cream of society had poured through those wrought iron gates, rusted now, hanging haphazardly on sagging hinges. The rich and famous had come to lavish parties, swam in bathtub gin and sipped contraband rum. Valets, black faces glistening above white tuxedos, had parked cars made by Bugatti and Studebaker.
He stumbled one step, then two, and the gentle loops of the driveway, pale in the moonlight, drew him faster past rustling palms, the meticulous lawns a riot of tall grass, but now he was only vaguely aware, his mind reeling again. He rounded a curve and came up short near the rusted main gates. His fragile emotional equilibrium tipped back into disorientation. A concrete sidewalk slashed a premature end to the tree-lined drive. Strangers strode across his property. Didn’t they know they were trespassing? A spark of anger pierced lethargy, but a child had frozen, eyes wide, to point at him. He folded his arms around his chest and glanced down, expecting to see his fingertips bloody. He’d clawed his way out of the mausoleum but there was no blood. The pale skin was whole. His long, translucent fingernails were lined with dirt, but not a one was chipped or broken.
"Look, Momma, a ghost." The boy child was dark brown and spoke with the lilting cadence of the islands. "Told you that old house is haunted."
Caribbean, that was the accent, and a wonderful memory of wild, wind-tossed seas and ships ferrying forbidden cargo brought a smile to his lips. The mother narrowed her eyes to peer into the gloomy mantle of palm fronds. When their eyes met, she gasped, grabbed her son’s hand and wheeled, pulling him along, her high heels beating a rapid staccato of fear. A heady, intoxicating scent lingered in the humid air. He took several deep breaths of the dusky human fragrance, and a sweet longing filled him. Saliva broke under his tongue. This desperation of mind and body was hauntingly familiar--half passion, half hunger—an overwhelming crescendo in his veins. He was on the verge of remembering something, but the memory ebbed away. Feeling terribly lost, inconsolably lonely, he raised a skeleton claw to study the blue chords shining through tight transparent skin. Dirt-matted hair draped the shoulders of his coat, the once fine fabric rotted and molded. The reek of the grave clung to him.
"I am a ghost," he whispered brokenly.
Memories knocked at the gates to his mind, crooking a taunting finger, fleeing. He knew he mustn’t open those gates or he’d go insane. Did ghosts suffer madness? He drew a cleansing breath of the salt wind and smiled. He’d go down to the shore, strip and bathe himself in the ocean. Oh, yes, he'd loved the sea!
More sure-footed, faster than he dared believe, he hurried down the overgrown path, but a tide of memories swept the child-like smile from his lips. There'd been another whom he loved more than the sea.

Night, Night,. Linda N.

4 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // October 14, 2007 at 2:02 AM  

    The way you use words amazes me every time I read something of yours. It's like reading something written by one of the old masters.

    Damn good writing.

    Mary

  2. Nightingale // October 14, 2007 at 11:11 AM  

    It's not too purple? Since I learned what purple is other than the color of Isabeau's eyes (tee hee), I'm constantly worried about being too colorful. Thanks for the praise!

  3. Beth Trissel // October 17, 2007 at 5:44 PM  

    I love the way you use words too, and I wouldn't worry about what 'color' your prose are, they're superb.

  4. Nightingale // October 18, 2007 at 4:47 PM  

    Thanks Beth. Guess I got that from a recent rejection on this one that said the euphemisms and metaphors slowed the story down!

    That little old Metaphor Lover me.