The Spirit Caller
A Halloween Love Story
The phone rang on that fateful day. He was tying the shoe of his youngest son Chad who was seated on the edge of the bed. He answered the call and heard his boss saying good bye he turned and looked at the window of his plush Manhattan apartment to see debris falling from the top of the south tower as smoke billowed out. He grabbed his binoculars and hand focused the lenses to the top of the horizon where to his horror he watched as people emerged clinging to the frames of the window panes hesitating then jumping to their deaths, their sole remaining options this morning to be consumed in a jet fueled fire or escape the flames and smoke by leaping to the concrete foundation over seventy stories below.
His wife re-appeared a few minutes later and then huddled together with their four children watching out the window and listening to the television in the background. Each of them wept openly until they were each exhausted and couldn’t take it anymore. They left their building and walked a few blocks to their local parish and school the church each pew packed and standing room only the repetition of simultaneous rosaries reverberating through the sanctuary.
Life slowly returned to a new normal but would never be the same. The daily then weekly therapy of funerals, graveside memorials, and receptions served them well on the road to psychological redemption and grief recovery as they endured a frigid winter and thaw in the promise of spring. This family waited until the next summer and their children completed another year of schooling put their affairs in order, sold their apartment and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. The most painful part was leaving their consolidated and tight survivor network in New York, many of whom applauded their decision to start anew.
They purchased two Cherry Red Lincoln Navigators for the trip west, each one loaded with the signature package including moon roofs, red leather interiors as soft as velvet and four Wheel Drive. Their art collection, jewelry, pots of coins and wardrobe packed tightly in the back of each vehicle and their luggage grab bags of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, aspirin, and wash cloths placed inside and on top for easy recovery a simple flip up of the rear window to recover the converted school lunch bags for that traveling freshen up experience during fuel stops at convenience stores and dinner at sit down or drive thru restaurants.
They journeyed out of New York through a tip of New Jersey and then the turnpike in Pennsylvania eventually giving way to the corn and soy fields of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois before crossing the Mississippi River and arriving at the Adams Mark in downtown St. Louis for a three day stay.
This respite invigorating as was the last day and a half of driving therapeutic they never before witnessing upfront and personal the Amish in buggies and the seemingly endless farm country of perfectly set rows of corn creating a whirring hypnotic effect when one attempted to peer through the columns while traveling at eighty miles per hour with the optical illusion of crops whizzing past The sun had risen, set and risen again before they would rest. One after the other the SUV’s traveled the highway. One piloted by mommy with the three older children with one half of Parker Spitzer their black Chow Spitzer and the lead by daddy with Chad seated next in front and their silk, golden cashmere to the feel, Parker the Chow older but appearing younger then Spitzer curled up in the back seat.
They pulled into the valet and the staff anticipating their arrival surrounded their rides ready to off load all of their luggage and freight. He laughed and said we’re not moving in but we appreciate the invitation and pressed a wad of bills into the porters palm picked up Chad and walked inside past check in and to the top of the Mark to the open doors of two adjoining suites and waiting manager who greeted them each and every one providing a brief but intuitive tour of their first home away from former home.
He stood at the edge of the suite his bare toes pressed against the base of the steel frame of the floor to ceiling windows while he gazed back across the mighty Mississippi and into Illinois the grain elevators visible deep in the background and then down below where a tug boat was guiding nine, no ten barges packed to capacity with grain the tarps barely covering the brimming loads slowly moving downstream towards Memphis then New Orleans each one destined as export to China, Vietnam or Japan he reasoned.
He was momentarily lost in a day dream while his kids were jumping on the beds his wife had tipped the manager and booked reservations at the steak house for later that night had received and stowed away their personal effects now opening a bottle of vintage red from their private stock and placing a half full glass in his hand. Her lipstick coded to the outside rim.
He turned to view his family and the pent up emotion of the last year unleashed in a torrent of tears. He inhaled the wine and the family each and every one joined together even the pups came there instinctively standing guard providing a protective perimeter while they grieved standing in a giant family group bear hug while the glint of the sun reflecting off the side of the steel arch diminished in intensity. He hugged each of them and placed Chad in the bathtub, where mommy with towels over the shoulder and hair pinned to the top of her head bathed and dried him, the remaining three eagerly awaiting to shower when it was their turn. They were older now and capable to groom and bathe themselves and when each one when finished and after munching their complimentary specialty pizzas, hand made and delivered by the chef, retired for the night into their own suite and oversized king beds safe in the knowledge that mommy and daddy were there to guide them on this epic journey of their young lives.
After an elegant evening and satisfying meal they returned to their new temporary home and prepared for bed. She fell asleep in his arms her scent soothing his weary mind. He flipped through the channels and came across a local feed describing the building of the arch. He watched as the last steel beam was affixed to the top of the structure a huge American flag fluttering from the base an iron worker riding the top clenching the crane cable elevated fifty stores in the air parallel to this monument dedicated to the Pioneer spirit many of whom launched their land voyages in wagons, on horseback and walking to Oklahoma, Texas and California all from this riverfront in St. Louis.
The next day they toured the top of the St. Louis Arch and peeked out the window slits from the apex but the real fun lay underneath in a museum commemorating the travels of explorers Lewis and Clark.
As they walked out of the exhibit and museum and a few blocks to the Spaghetti Factory for lunch he recalled the works of either Lewis or Clark who once wrote in his log “I fought with a bear yesterday. I must admit I would rather fight two Indians than one bear”. He reasoned how difficult life was for these pioneers and the many other settlers who faced instant death on the open plains from Indian attacks, disease and outlaw riders. He pondered his personal history regarding death as innocence fell from the sky that fateful day, their morning coffee, brief cases and cell phone loaded with their life connections atomized by the unforgettable fire.
They toured Main Street Station, the Budweiser brewery, the Central West End, The downtown Cathedral for daily mass and even attended a St. Louis Cardinals baseball during their passing.
Check out day was slightly harried as Chad stepped out of the suite and wandered into the elevator as Parker blocked the entrance to the carriage with her sturdy frame preventing the door from closing the alarm now activated the cancellation of an uncertain journey for the toddler as Mommy arrived and retrieved her son from the car. The puppy and hero for the day rewarded with a her own sandwich and fries from Steak and Shake as the family feasted on the edge of town preferring to sit outdoors on this gorgeous autumn day with amber, rust, burgundy, orange and chocolate leaves drooping from their half bare trees everywhere they looked. The light breeze circulated the downed foliage underneath their feet and as they returned to their cars the entire family reduced to remote viewing insanity or imitating Mexican jumping beans as they danced around the parking lot stomping on the largest ones seeking the loudest crunch. They awarded the loudest leaf prize to Parker their golden brown and silky soft Chow and Chad’s protector who wagged her tail and barked her approval of all the hoopla directed her way.
Heart ~ Red Velvet Car 2010.3
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