A Friend in Weird Places
Sometimes you close your eyes and find yourself in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. There was a playground, a sandpit in the center. As a child you would fill buckets and topple them until you created castles. A swing-set nearby, as a child you would try to reach the heavens with your feet. There was a time when great adventures were made by sliding down a slide and crawling into tubes. The older you get, the smaller the world gets.
When you’re in puberty, you would return to this place at night, sharing a cigarette with your best friend.
But Harry was forty-five years old now. The street where he used to live is full of shops now. The playground has been demolished, another shop opened up on its location. Any semblance of his youth resides only in his mind now. So goes the fate of all our childhoods.
Harry found himself here, in the place that doesn’t exist anymore. He looked up into the sky, Dark clouds were circling this playground, ready to descend hail fire.
A familiar voice: ”hey butthead!”
Harry looked to the swing-set where the voice came from. There he saw someone he hadn’t seen in nearly three decades.
”Yeah I’m talking to you!”
It was Crispin, his childhood friend who looked just like the fourteen boy in the height of their friendship sitting in one of the two swings. Still slightly chubby donning the traditional crew-cut his father from the military persisted he’d get. But still wearing the Frank Zappa T-shirt, where Zappa flipped the bird to the audience- something he wasn’t allowed to wear in school. They lost in touch in the end of his adolescence.
”We were supposed to be friends forever,” said Crispin as Harry moved towards him with a stunned face.
”We promised we’d be always be there for each other.”
Harry looked him over. He was a confused and nothing made sense but there was a sense that it was pointless to ask.
”I’m talking to you butthead!”
”Things happen,” Harry said, sitting next to him on the other swing-set, ”we didn’t know real life when we promised this. You died before you ever discovered the real world.”
”But you barely thought of me in the last few years. You believed yourself to be alone. You never thought I would still be there for you.”
”But you aren’t. You’re dead.”
”That doesn’t matter. A promise is a promise.”
”What are you able to do for me?”
”Nothing in the outside world. But in here I can save your soul.”
”Is my soul in danger?”
”Not yet, but somebody has his eyes on it.”
Crispin pointed ahead of him and Harry followed his finger: there stood a man with a blank white face with bulging dark eyes. A bald scalp, his face seemed unnaturally smooth, not a trace of hair. Even his eye-brows were gone. He was wearing a three-piece suit, perfectly fitted, the color of dark gray, only his tie had the color of scarlet red.
”He can only have your soul if you do things that will change it to his advantage. If you fall deep enough, he will be able to reach you.”
”What is his name?”
”It doesn’t matter.”
”How about Mr. Anonymous?”
”He’s your foe.”
”He looks scary.”
”He is. He is everything you were ever frightened off and you’re playing a very dangerous game with him.”
”What if I stop playing?”
”That’s not an option. That was never an option.”
”Tell me how to play the game. Tell me how to beat him.”
”In here, it’s easy but when you are out there, you really have to listen.”
”Tell me now.”
”You don’t have much time.”
”You’re waking up soon.”
Mr. Anonymous groans, it’s the groan of loud annoyed cat.
”Here it comes.”
”Don’t be scared. It’s only a dream.”
Crispin pushes a hand on each ear, closes his eyes. Before Harry can comprehend why, Mr. Anonymous runs towards him, screaming as he does. The screaming is terrifying, it sends shivers down Harry’s spine. The scream affects the dark skies above, as it begins to roar as it to warn them of an upcoming storm. Harry pushes his ears closed and watches Mr. Anonymous run toward him- but something strange happens, the scene keeps repeating itself. He keeps seeing him run towards him, again and again, moving closer and moving back, as if on a loop. His bulging eyes seems to almost burst from his sockets, his mouth, inside there’s nothing but sharp pointy teeth, seems to get bigger and bigger. Harry feels himself falling. …This is when Harry wakes up.
Art by David Lynch