City of the Black Spider

January 19, 2007 at 4:58 pm (Surrealist Anthology)

 Erich Cohn

You wake up in an empty apartment in an unknown city, wearing a black suit

with nothing in the pockets. It is late afternoon. A weak sun falls across the dusty floors and disappears in a dark corner. You look out the window at an old movie house across the street. The bells of a distant church toll over the faint sounds of traffic. Tough looking men are standing at the street corner smoking cigarettes, letting you know they’re waiting.

 You take the back door and walk out into the night. At a seedy café, an old woman hands you a card. You turn it over in the dim street lamp: 87 Strasshofner. When you ring the doorbell some time later a disheveled man in an out-of-date suit opens the door and says sharply, “What do you want?”

“Nothing,” you answer. He opens the door, looks you over and lets you in. The front room is like a doctor’s waiting room only shabbier. The magazines on the end tables are dated 1939, which is two years from now. The room is empty except for the two of you. “I will let them know you have arrived,” he says and leaves.

You sit on a gray sofa that looks like a bad piece of taxidermy and wait. After twenty minutes you grow impatient and open the door across from the one you entered. There is a long hallway with rooms on either side. Each room has a number. There are 12 in all. You walk to the end of the hall and stop. There are no sounds from any of the rooms. A bare light bulb hangs in the hall. After a few minutes you notice a blue fog curling under the door of room number seven. You open the door and slowly walk in.

Two women in cocktail dresses are at a table drinking and talking. To the left is a small bar with a single bartender. You sit down at an empty table and a man brings you a tall glass filled with a dark liquid. You sip it slowly. After some time the women get up. One goes to the back of the room and the other comes to your table.

 “I can help you,” she says.

 “Can you?” you reply.

 You go through another room of tables and out into an alley. A black roadster is waiting with a single driver in a trench coat. You get into the back seat and the car speeds off. You drive for hours. You sit very close to each other but say nothing. Through the window you can see the city flying past, then trees. The car slows down and comes to a stop in front of a large villa. As you and the young woman get out, the car drives off and disappears down the black road. You walk toward the house where a doorman escorts you to a ballroom. Several dozen people in evening clothes are gathered. A distinguished older man walks over and greets you.

 “You have found him.”.

 “Yes, he was where you said he would be father,” she replies.

 “I am sorry to have brought you here under such circumstances,” he says, “But you know why such precautions are necessary.”

 You smile. You don’t know why at all.

 “For now enjoy yourself. My daughter will see to your needs.”

 He hands you a drink and she takes your arm and escorts you to where couples are dancing.

 “Do I know your father,” you ask.

 “Probably not as he appears,” she answers.

 As you dance you look out the bay windows and see that a full moon has risen. The woman whose name you still do not know nestles her head against your shoulder. “Don’t do that,” you say, but it is too late.

 The warm notes of the saxophone expand like waves of sunlight and you lose all sense of place. You feel her lips against yours. Then the room is quiet. The city disappears and you are alone.  In a different room, in a different dream you open your hands and a small black spider runs out and disappears between a crack in the floor. You walk over and pick up a letter someone has slid under the door.

 “I’ll call you,”it says. It is unsigned and undated. You walk over and drop it on the desk next to dozens just like it.

1 Comment

  1. City of the Black Spider - US Church List said,

    […] Stranger Creek […]

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