Monday, February 2, 2015

The Green Room

Greenwich Village, 1958.

Mama believes in spirits and Papa does too, but he won’t say so. Mama says they can appear or disappear at will but they are not malicious. If you find a malicious one, she says, that’s not a spirit, it’s a demon. And if you’re not on the right hand of God, no one on earth (or even Heaven) can help you.

Mama says going to church every Sunday can help protect you from the demons, but only if you say your prayers every night. It helps if you go to mass every day too, but she knows we’re too busy for that.

The nuns at school didn’t talk much about spirits or demons, and if you asked they would just say you need to pray more. I’ll tell you something though, I prayed and prayed and prayed between the ages of 10 and 14 and nothing changed the way I thought it would.

I don’t know what to think. Jimmy wants me to marry him in the worst way and I’m getting closer and closer to turning 18. His family bought that creepy building and I know there’s a ghost in it. Spirit, ghost, whatever you call it. I think it’s a woman, walking up and down the floors and now and again passing by the window.

They say spirits can’t touch or hurt us, and they can walk right through us. We can hear and see them if they want us to, but that’s about all. They’re supposed to be trapped inside this world and trying to get out of it.

But what if they know they’re going to Hell? Wouldn’t they want to stay right where they are?

Jimmy took me for a tour of the building the other day, and I have to say he and his brothers and fathers have been working really hard. The place is starting to look nice, with ornamental doors and original woodwork. 

But the top  floor is really, really cold and at one point we went into a room with dark green walls. I liked the color but as soon as I crossed the threshold I felt what seemed to be cobwebs pressing down on my face.  Not wisping by. Pressing down.

I tried to scream and couldn’t, and that's what really scared me. But Jimmy saw my face was white as rice. “What’s a matter, Elena?” he asked. His eyes were all wide and for a minute, I thought he felt the cobwebs too.

But he hadn’t. He listened, and he believed me, but he hadn’t.

If I married Jimmy that thing would be after me. I know it.

Plus, I keep thinking, I love Jimmy, but shouldn't I be a little older before I settle down? Mama was 18 when she got married and look at her. Slaving away at Rocco’s all day and then slaving more in the evenings and weekends. I don’t  think she ever rests.

I like to go to parties, even though Mama and Papa don’t know I go to them. There's so much going on in the Village here. It's hard to stay put at Sorocco's. I don't want to any more.

I like to go dancing and I’d like to go on a ship one day and sail around the world. Maybe come home to a big white house without a ghost in it.

But Jimmy can't afford to take me on a ship or buy me a house. He says he will one day, but all he does is work in the bakery with his family and box on the weekends. He says he's good enough to turn pro but if we were married, I wouldn't want that. I just wouldn't.

If this spirit is just a spirit, I could probably find someone, maybe one of the gypsies on my block, to send her away. If she’s a demon, well. I’m cooked.

Unless I tell Jimmy I can’t go to his family’s new bakery. But if I married him I'd have to. Right?

 Just don’t tell me to pray on it, okay? I know why you're saying it, but... you know what? I pray enough.

Elena Sorocco

Elena: Tom Merton