Was The Visitor Death?
by Locs Of Fire
The summer of 1994 in DC was like a summer in hell. It was unusually hot and violence in the street was even hotter.
I was living in NE at the time, up the hill from my grandparents, whose apartment was built on a graveyard that locals call Poltergeist. I had just come from visiting them. Walking down the hill past Lincoln Rd. I glanced over to the playground where just a week ago a young brother was shot and killed while playing with his daughter. As I trekked up the hill I smiled to see the braveness of the kids playing there in spite of the previous occurrence. I enter the building foyer and as I walk over to my mailbox a neighbor comes over.
“Heeeey.” I say a little startled.
“Girl we got the house.” She grabbed my hand.
“Great I am so happy for ya.”
She continued to elaborate on her achievement and I was really happy but overcome with this stomach cramp and wound up briefly tuning her out. She noticed the sudden change in body language.
“You aight child?” She asked still holding my hand.
“I’m sorry I just had this bad stomach pain.”
“You ain’t pregnant is ya?” She said sarcastically.
I laughed, “Hell No! You gotta be doin’ somethin’ in order to get pregnant.”
We both laughed and went on.
“Good luck!” I shouted as I opened the hall door to the stairs.
Apartment 208, my humble abode; as I walk up to the door and turn the key, I reminisce on the time when my living room was fully furnished and two warm bodies inhabited this space. Now the living room is laid out in the pattern of hard wood floors, thick Venetian blinds, and an echo. I opened my door, took off my shoes and walked straight to my bedroom. The answering machine recorded four messages, which I listened to but not responding. Got undressed and laid across my bed and turned on the stereo. Hypnotized by the Go-Go beat playing, I sit up on my bed and forward to my favorite part in the song. The conga’s and percussions were the loudest instruments you hear and that melody was beckoning my hips to rotate. Me and the music serenaded in my mirror.
After I was out of breath from the dance “exercise”, I turned the stereo off and turned the TV on. Now I understood why I stopped watching the news so much. Aside from the usual murder of another brother, senior citizens are being found dead in their homes from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The reporter states, “Another senior citizen has been found dead in her apartment from what appears to be heat exhaustion or heat stroke.” “Damn”, I shake my head because that was the third elderly person this summer. The violence has increased again and elderly people are scared to leave their homes, or open their windows, petrified of being robbed, shot or whatever, so they keep themselves locked down and in. Its unfortunate but a reality seniors are “scared to death”, no pun intended. I watched the news long enough to get the weather report and turned the TV off. I picked up my Nuwabu scrolls and started reading. It was around 9:30 pm, and I was getting hungry. I went in my kitchen and realized I didn’t want anything in my cabinets or refrigerator, so I got dressed and walked down 4th street to the carryout.
As I walked past my neighbor’s house in 206, I noticed his newspaper was still in his door. “Hmm” I thought that was a little unusual, but kept on going. The night air was stifling and thick and we actually had a brownout the other night to conserve some energy. People were everywhere in the streets more so than normal. My little window unit was pumpin’ out every drop of its 7000 BTU’s, trying to keep my 1000sq ft apartment cool. Thank God I didn’t have to entertain in my living room. I returned home hot, hungry and sweaty. I ate my food and got comfortable again, it was getting late and that heat drained me along with that long ass walk back up the hill of 4th street from the carry out. Fuck this I will be going to the grocery store tomorrow after work. I took a shower got my clothes ready for the next day, smoked me a joint and went to sleep.
I was lying flat on my back looking off the side of my bed. I saw the light but was still trying to focus. It seemed like a shadow of a man was in the midst of this light and he looked like he was saying something to me. He was now standing right next to my bed. I wasn’t afraid because I was still trying to read his lips. I moved my legs slightly to the left, because the light and the shadow were now sitting on my bed. I sat up on my pillows and said “I don’t understand you”. Suddenly the shadow blew into his hand and I heard this loud POP! I jumped up out of my sleep. I looked around and looked in my living room from my bed and it was just dark. I looked on my bed and noticed my legs were moved to the same position they were when I allowed the light to sit on my bed. I was uneasy then and it took me a minute to fall asleep but I did.
I woke up the next morning and there was a peculiar smell in my apartment. I checked my trash and took it out when I left for work. Today is Wednesday. Another hump day and I was still ready for 5pm to come when I got to work at 8:30 am. After work, like dejavu, I find myself back in my building foyer at my mailbox. I open the door that leads to the stairs that leads to my apartment. As I got closer to the second floor door, it still smelled peculiar like this morning. My first thought was “Damn somebody really needs to take their trash out for real.” I walked past my neighbor’s door and his paper was gone. I get to my door and realize I hadn’t gone to the grocery store. “Dammit”, well I’ll go tomorrow. I continue with my daily regimen only now I have a funky smell invading my home. I wake up and it’s Thursday morning and the lingering smell is now unbearably strong. I am getting worried now, but I continue with my daily routine. This time when I get home, the smell has died down some but still apparent. Today as I walk past my neighbor’s house his paper is still on his door. I figured he hadn’t got home yet and again continued my rituals.
I never paid this much attention to my neighbor but for some reason the importance of noticing any changes by his door was evident. Plus he was an elderly man. It is going on Friday and TGIF. I am back in the foyer, retrieving the mail from my box, walking up the stairs to my palace and as I open the door from the stairs my neighbor’s paper is still in his door, the overwhelming feeling hits me. DEATH has come for a visit. My grandfather works in a mortuary and I always rejected going in that building but remember distinct odors and uneasy feelings even if we just entered the doorway of the mortuary. I walked slowly past his door and looked at it. It was like getting confirmation that he was the victim. I continued past his door and entered my home. I walked to my phone numb with the possibility and called my grandmother.
“Yeah?” she answered. “I need you to stay on the phone while I go check something out.”
“Check out what?” V“I need to check my neighbor’s door to see if his paper still has Thursdays date on it. If it does that means he might be dead and I need to call my manager.”
She said “OK” and waited. I walked out my door and looked to see if anyone was in the hall. I walked like I was sneaking up on someone until I reached his door. I looked down and my heart began to flutter. The date said Thursday. My intuition was correct. I got back to the phone and explained to my grandmother what had transpired the past days. I hung up the phone with her and called my building manager.
“Hey Mr. Shaw how are you today?”
“Oh just fine, how are you?”
“Fine, hey listen, I am not a psychic but I believe someone in this building may have passed.”
He doesn’t respond right away. “Uh, yeah, we found the man in 206 this morning. It was dark in there and he had all the windows closed. We won’t know anything definite until the autopsy, but I think he died of heat exhaustion.”
My suspicions were right, and the smell was coming from apartment 206. Mr. Shaw thought my perception was keen so he asked me jokingly if I knew any numbers to play for the lotto. We both laughed and ended the call. Had death been the stranger that visited me that Tuesday night? Was “he” the neighbor in the light? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know when I woke up and noticed my legs had conformed to the space the light needed, it could not have been just a dream.