The little apple lady gave me a wink as I entered the establishment.
To my friend Sherlock Holmes, I was a bit eccentric. We had recently dined together at The Whitechapel Business Man's Club. He was a private detective hooked on crime and I was an unknown poet hooked on an affinity to be a writer of mysteries. Opium was our common denominator. After dinner, we adjourned to the smoking-room and sipped cognac.
Over the years it became evident that Sherlock felt slighted, Not made a knight by Queen Victoria for solving so many murders. His ego hurt.
Needing space with background noise. I seem to do best with some distractions. During the course of the conversation, I ask Sherlock if he knew of a place?
Ending the night by chasing the dragon, inhaling the opium which I was so fond of. I gave the apple lady a fist of gold coins.
The house was imposing behind a wrought iron fence and weeds. Made of stone and wood on a cul-de-sac dating to the early 19th century. Now boarded up as if the house was sleeping. I could almost hear the weeping from inside The gabled windows above, looked down as if eyes watching. Three steps up, three steps down.
There seem to be no living things. The grass was brown and a shadow hung over as If an approaching storm. The only habitation was granite stones across the lane of an old cemetery. I did see a tricycle turned on its side, with its little wheels spinning next to a leaning monument.
Churning of the wind like a tempest at my back. Placing my satchel down, I gave three taps with the brass knocker. The door opened, with a shadow of pale, like a fiddlestick screeching on a wooden violin. Field mice escaped between my legs and scurried out the door. There must have been a hundred fleeing in all directions. Immediately I felt the chill rushing out like the Mirah.
Looking down at a dwarf dressed as a hermit, covered in soot, I inquired. "Might you still have an apartment to let?"
He was deaf and dumb. Anemic looking, with sagging skin and toothless. with rather large ears and a bulbous nose, dragging his left leg. With a painful expression on his face. He grasped my sleeve. Leading me to the music room where a Steinway grand played.
Mastered by lovely fingers. In my mind, she was the epitome, of the desirous woman. Her skin an egg white with a touch of crimson mascara with a small beauty mark. Her eyes were dark empty sockets, running as if she had the ague. I was to become her Gunga Din. A better man than what lay in the garden.
Sitting and watching the aged dowager. It was as if I unnoticed as she tickled the ivories. With her dexterous fingers humming an operetta as if an inspired Puccini.
I felt her loneliness and realized that she was crying tears. Awaking my senses, that something wasn't normal here. The fireplace coughed releasing cold ash about the room. I felt aroused. She was transforming into costumes with different faces as if a ghost inside. I wavered but did not collapse. "It's was my lack of sleep or in need of a meal?" Then! came the big sneeze rattling the window. The house seemed alive.
Part of my childhood was growing up with Popa as he trolled for ghosts. But they never appeared. It all stopped when my little sister died from the pox. He was never the same. Mum said he was an alcoholic. So, all this so far was only an annoyance and I overlooked it.
There were like two layers of darkness in the house. One thick skin and the other thin. It was getting towards "the shank of the evening" as the little man led me up the staircase. Into the room covered with frost and the peeling paint of the twenty-one stairs that I had climbed. But it felt as if descending.
The dwarf returned soon with a tray of stew, hard bread, and water to wash it all down. As the hours settled into tomorrow, I had to put on two sweaters and a woolen scarf over my nightshirt. It was then that I heard the patter of small feet running the hall with childish laughter. When I open the door the dwarf was cleaning up some soft dirt spots as If my shoes had left them. I gave him my pair of shoes to renew the shine.
Dawned arrived too, with little sleep. Taking care of my toiletry and looking at myself in the mirror. I noticed some wrinkles had vanished around my eyes. Restoring me to my suave-debonaire look. 'It must be in the climate!" Finding my polished shoes at the door, they felt loose.
Looking out the bedroom window I noticed the rain. The little tricycle was no longer near the gravestone. But there was a small toy doll. Even from a distance, it looked like the dwarf.
Going downstairs I heard her speaking blasphemy of the rain. Speaking in tongue as her fingers silenced the rainbow.
As a young Musette, a ghost of a child. She had left her grave to play with dead things Now aged beyond the grave taking on the alter ego of a centenarian. Her flesh and bones had lost their rigor. A child ghost assuming the shape of an older ghost. To avoid mirrors facing each other before crossing over to a non-hallowed place. But she still talk to dolls and rode her trike.