By Phillip Ghee
One night I found myself relaxing to some sugar coated jazz saxophone music when like the character in the Edgar Allen Poe poem, there came a tapping, a gentle rapping, but at my window (instead of at my chamber door). Tap, tap, tap, I turned my head to the large bedroom window which was adorned with Venetian blinds. I had not fully closed the blinds, and was startled to see a figure standing on my roof and apparently looking through my window. I slowly turned my head away from the figure and ever so gingerly moved my hand towards the phone. Naturally, I called the police and because I lived in an affluent part of the city, the response was quick and intense.
The local police even sent a whirlybird, checking the rooftops, not just of my buildings, but all the houses, at least on that side of the block. The particular street that I lived on was once known as the Governor’s Mansions. These sturdy and stately estates could easily swallow whole their brownstone cousins from New York. Strangely the large brick structures only dominated one side of the street. The other side of the block consisted of, although more modern, considerably less statuesque structures. One would have thought with all the fuss and activity generated by my call that there must surely still have been a governor or two residing in the midst. If the call had originated from the other side of the street, still hosting some substandard tenements, would the same attention have been generated? That’s me I guess, always considering the underdog.
This was my first ever call to the Police Department. Nervously, I gave my report. In retrospect, it wasn’t really much to report. There was someone standing outside my window, throwing pebbles or something at it, or me, or both, period.
After the initial shock of seeing someone on my roof, my attention immediately turned to maintaining bladder control. Then there was the usual appeals to Super Jesus, to please save me, that most of us in the western world, Christian or not, usually invoke at times like these. I was however unable to provide the police with anything more than that.
The police did not find anything unusual, on that side of the block, except maybe for me, “Hey -don’t you belong on the other side of the block?” I am sure some of them secretly thought that. The rest of the night was long but eventually I calmed my nerves enough to be able to fall asleep.
The next night there I was lying in bed when, tap, tap, and tap. Once again my visitor had returned and was throwing stones at my window. I re-enacted my phone manoeuvres of the previous night but this time I called my girlfriend.
“Lois” I said. Yes, my girl friend was named Lois but I was certainly no Superman.
“Call the Police.”
“What if they come out again with all that equipment and manpower and he’s gone?”
“What if they don’t come out and the next day you’re gone?”
She raised a very good point. I once again, enacted my turtle-like movement and redialled the police. The cops came, this time no whirlybird, no sympathy, no nothing.
“Mr, do you have any friends who may be playing a practical joke on you?”
I received the question with a certain amount of indignation. I gave a resounding dismissal of such a notion. If anything, I was respected and adored at least in my own mind.
As I was trying to give more of a description of the prowler this time, a strange epiphany descended upon me. I was attempting to speculate to the policemen that because of the small stature and agility of the prowler I assumed it was a child or an adolescent, perhaps in the employ of a more sinister and calculating adult. This would not have been the first time that criminal elements have taken advantage of the small size of youth to wiggle their way into choice properties. Yet I realized that there was something much more fascinating about the prowler.
The visitor was a perfect silhouette, although I guess a perfect female silhouette may have wished him a little taller. What I mean by perfect is his shadowy form was without edges, without overlaps, without caps, straps or flaps, etc, or any other distinguishable shadow that would be cast by clothing.
“The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind – whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity. For the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness goes deep down into unsuspected Aladdin caves. There, not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. And they remain unsuspected, or, on the other hand, some chance word, the smell of a landscape, the taste of a cup of tea, or the glance of an eye may touch a magic spring, and then dangerous messengers begin to appear in the brain. These are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves. But then a wonderful reconstruction of the bolder, cleaner, more spacious, and fully human life! That is the lure, the promise and terror, of these disturbing night visitants from the mythological realm that we carry within.”
– The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
I believed that in my pursuit of relaxation, and by the method I had used in the quest to clear the mind of internal dialogue, that I had inadvertently, if only for a few seconds, opened the elusive third eye. It was through the vision of this third eye that I purport to have come to The River, the divisional body of water spoken of in most if not all mythologies, the gulf that even Jesus spoke of, that separates one realm of existence from another. Yet these thresholds are not ventured into without cost.
Again turning to Joseph Campbell, he writes:
“Mythology tells us that Guardians of the Threshold symbolize forces gathered on the point of transition between not only freedom and confinement, but between different stages of human evolution, moral, ethical, and spiritual: progress or decline. These guardians protect society’s people and wealth against hostile forces and intrusion by the unworthy.”
I resolved that if I were to have any more visits that I would stand my ground and take a more intense appraisal of events and circumstances. First I started by putting into context the nature of the house itself. Even before the incident I had always thought the house odd and speculated that since LSD had not been discovered in the 19th Century that unearthly or mysterious forces must have contributed to its design. The house was reminiscent of the house author Mark Z. Danielewski writes about in his experimentally crafty novel ‘House of Leaves’.
Inside my apartment were multiple hallways that led to nowhere. I had a fully functional exterior window entombed in one of these aimless hallways. The apartment must have had fourteen or more alleged doors and doorways.
I once paid a visit to the eerie and creepy basement. What I found displayed down there was furniture and relics from different eras and periods of history, all waiting in storage as if their respected owners would soon appear to pick them up.
Lastly, I took into consideration the roof from whence the visitor did his nightly dance. My building although three stories was in reality more like five stories up in height. One misallocation and an earthly body would have been no more.
I ventured out to perform a little rooftop callisthenics of my own.
I had little difficulty hoisting myself up to the section of the roof that was level, but when I came to the incline area, which the visitor liked to frequent, the slope was at such an incline that even on all fours I dared not venture to the spot where he had danced so light and graceful. Only time would tell.
I waited that night and…tap, tap, tap.
Sure enough the visitor appeared. This time I summoned up all the courage I could and just watched my little friend without fear or recourse. He performed his complete repertoire over the course of a minute or so (Inter-dimensional like hours and, with an inter-dimensional being, who can be for sure?). And then he was gone, never to appear again.
Up until that visit things had been going pretty well for me. I was not yet nineteen and commanded a good salary, with a respectable degree of social responsibility attached to it. I lived in one of the premier sections of town. I had one trophy of a beautiful girlfriend; Lois was definitely an earlier incarnation of Beyonce, yum.
But within a time period of eight months or so, my life unravelled, deteriorated. I could not believe, as I headed for the Greyhound bus station, a few hundred dollars in my pockets and destination unknown, that I was the same person who had just a few months earlier enjoyed such a plush and privileged lifestyle.
Eight months after the visit, I found myself bewildered and disillusioned. Wishing to lose myself, I left Baltimore. Boarding a Greyhound bus, seven hundred dollars in my pocket, bound for destination unknown. But, this was a good thing, I THINK!!!
The Call to Adventure
“The call to adventure is the point in a person’s life when they are first given notice that everything is going to change, whether they know it or not.”
“This first stage of the mythological journey – which we have designated the ‘call to adventure’ – signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual centre of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father’s city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur; or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent as was Odysseus, driven about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god, Poseidon. The adventure may begin as a mere blunder … or still again, one may be only casually strolling when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man. Examples might be multiplied, ad infinitum, from every corner of the world.”
– The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell