The phone rings incessantly on this seething August night. It is 3 A.M. but the night call does not disturb my sleep. You see, I suffer from insomnia, my air conditioner is broken, and on this oppressively hot night, I sweat profusely.
“Hello,” I growl.
“I need your help,” the eerie voice whispers.
“Who are you?”
“Don’t you know?”
“No.” But the voice is curiously familiar. “What do you want?”
“Meet me in front of the St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village in an hour.”
“How will I know you?”
“You’ll know me–the woman in a lilac skirt, yellow blouse and a red rose in her hair.”
“Just like…” The call ends abruptly. “She’s gone,” I mutter.
What shall I do? I drift off and look out the window into the blackness of night floating in mindless boketto. Can’t recall when I return. Yet I do, although amnesia grips my throat, assaults my broken brain. Sweat pours from my brow.
I look down at the oval night table. A book sits in the center–perhaps the omphalos of my micro-universe. I lift the book and read the title. The Secret of Evil by Roberto Bolaño. I don’t open it because I remember the unsettling night call and my body shakes violently.
“Don’t make me go,” I shriek. Yet I leave my little room and saunter off into the oppressive night. An uncanny force propels me.
I meander through the village, across the swirl of darkness, a thick wall of seething, stifling heat. The air is humid and toxic. A miasma of evil covers the city, punctures the soul. I rush slowly through the night until I reach St Mark’s Place and 3rdAvenue.
“Gone,” I mumble, my tongue swirling in a sea of fear. “Where is the St. Mark’s Bookshop? Where are you?”
A sign on the door says, “Meet me in front of the Sullivan Street Playhouse. Don’t you remember? You promised to take me to see The Fantasticks.”
I gaze quizzically at the enigmatic sign, turn around, and head toward Sullivan Street. When I arrive at 181 Sullivan Street, I do not find the playhouse.
“Gone,” I mutter again, as a terrible fear covers my flesh, flows through my body and mind, and swallows my spirit. I bite my quivering lips and taste my foul saliva. My frenzied eyes dart and flit across time and space but stop suddenly when they see the sign on the door.
It says, “Meet me in Washington Square Park by the Arch.”
I saunter off. When I arrive, no one is there. I sit on a bench nearby and inhale the noxious fumes of despair or terror. I don’t really know what I feel. I am numb. I can’t bear being here. I doze off.
When I open my weary eyes, she is sitting next to me, her piercing dark brown eyes staring intently at my twisted, tearful face.
“Who are you?”
“Don’t you know?” she says. Her potent eyes swallow my dissolving spirit, strip me naked, and drill a hole through my secret self. She shatters all my illusions.
“Yes, I believe I know you.”
Her face is a frightful mask of beauty/grotesquerie, a fluid face that unmasks itself in a fantastic metamorphosis, peeling away a cornucopia of false selves.
“Help me!” she begs. Her soft voice is a bestial scream reverberating in the caverns of my fractured, feverish brain. “Will you help me?” she echoes eerily.
“Yes,” I say unconditionally. I can no longer resist what waits for me.
Soon, she will reveal what she needs and who she really is, who I am; and what she is, what I am; her destiny and mine; and I shall vanish in the black hole of her deep apocalyptic eyes, plummeting into the chilling abyss, a fire of ineffable truths.