I chose my hotel in Prague because it was in a cobblestone alley with one way in and one way out to the larger street
near the old city center.
It was quiet and conservative looking with colorful summer flowers in the wooden window boxes.
Upon entering the alley to the hotel there was an Indian shop with incense burning inside, which leaked out onto the street.
It smelled of jasmine, musk and cinnamon, and was complimented by all the red, green, yellow, blue and orange lights in the shop which shone into the night through the thin golden threaded Indian veils covering the windows. Little statues stood guard on the lower window sills. The yellow Goldfish swam in a small tank above the cashier on a shelf in water with blue sand and grey coral .
This place seemed right for my mood.
The hotel I had found was called the “Hotel Londoner.”
I admit I was psyched because I assumed they spoke English there, which of course they did. I didn’t speak the Czech language.
The owners seemed to be Indian, which didn’t surprise me. They welcomed me and then oddly warned me the hotel was haunted, especially my room, then wished me a good night.
I thought that was some lovely Indian British humor.
I don’t mind ghosts because I came face to face with one in a Belgium hotel once.
That’s a story for some other time…
I settled into my room which looked like any other room in any European hotel. I was on the 3rd floor.
Thank God for elevators.
The bed was comfortable and the room clean. I unpacked , checked the closet cabinet (which is now my habit after my Belgian ghost incident) then lay down to rest after my long journey.
I heard people speaking muffled , strange languages outside my room. I could also hear the ding of the elevator across from my room.
I stood up and looked out my window with a view of the famous city square with its wondrous old Czech architecture, buildings and shops, people everywhere. I could see the Franz Kafka museum from my window. I noticed everything, ahhh yeah,mmmhhhhh…I stepped back,
I spilled slowly onto the bed, and soon fell asleep.
In my dream I took the elevator to the lobby bar for a drink.
I entered the elevator cabin and pushed the “P” button which I assumed in the Czech Republic meant lobby.It seemed to take a long while until…
…the door slowly opened to my mother’s funeral parlor.
The smell of orchids was in the air. People walked around without making any sounds. Everyone was unsure how to act. Flowers and wreaths were pointing to the casket in the back. I walked in and there she lay in her casket, all waxy and dead. My mother was gone, dead, replaced by this bad doll in the box. My parents had been divorced for over 20 years. My father, who had not seen my mother since the divorce, was standing peering into her casket. It was strange seeing them together. I thought, they are finally together at last. My father did get the last word. I turned away.
Suddenly, I was alone at the hospital, holding my mother’s hand.
It was her last minute.
She had long since stopped talking.
I stared at her while she breathed her last breath.
She had hung on a long time and the nurse asked me who she had been waiting for. I knew.
After her rattle, for some reason I looked up at the ceiling and said, “mom, go to the light.”
Why did I do that ?
I then closed her mouth and eyes. That was the end of my mother.
It was surreal for me. I had seen enough,
I was uncomfortable. I exited the room and stood in front of the elevator. I entered.
I decided to continue down to the lobby, I wanted two stiff drinks after this too real whatever.
The elevator kept going up, however, then stopped,
and the door opened to an old familiar room; my childhood bedroom.
It was full of sunshine and it was Saturday morning. My skin was glowing.
I was 10 years old, lying in my warm bed with my beagle snuggling up to me, and I didn’t have a care in the world.
I felt the only absolute joy I ever felt in my life in these few short minutes. I wondered and watched at how the sun reflected on my wooden bed, reflected on my arm, on my dog, reflected on the dust particles
as they floated oh so smoothly everywhere, up and down, side to side, rising and falling in slo-mo.
I suddenly remembered that it was Saturday, and no school, and I was free, and the day was mine. There was no reason to get out of bed except for the call of some childish adventures I need to dream up. I remembered it like it was yesterday. I was young, warm, safe, healthy, and innocent. Little did I know the joys and horrors that future life would deliver.
Through my open bedroom door the shadowy elevator invited me to enter.
Shit. I didn’t want to leave my old room, the sunshine, the warmth, my dog,the particles, but I did. I entered the elevator again.
It went down. The elevator itself was just the typical metal box with buttons and a phone we all know. Farther down.
Finally the door opened and I found myself in the village cemetery’s very small stone chapel. Everyone was crowded around the casket in fold out chairs, looking at my young wife’s casket. My two children were by my side, in their finest clothes. Again flowers.
Around us sat my wife’s family.
Surprising myself, a moan escaped from my mouth.
It just came out…My anguished groan for my wife came out of me fully beyond my control, a sound of my wounded soul
in that tiny room full of people.
The reality of my lovely wife, my love, my friend, in this wooden coffin hit me. Immediately after my groan, all the small German female children rushed to me and whispered words of support to my cheek, in my ear. They touched me too. The adults respectfully ignored me.
Standing at the grave, when they finally lowered my wife’s casket into the ground, my daughter broke down sobbing and came to me, held me. My son was next to me holding my hand, in shock, staring at his young mother deep in a dirty hole. He was especially close to her.14 and motherless. My heart was, and has been broken for children ever since. The world goes on –and on
– and forgets all this, but we three are seared by love and death, bonded by it. I never cried at the funeral, I was way too medicated. I’m not sure I could have stopped crying, and my kids needed me together. I have cried since…
I’ve returned to the elevator and I’m feeling a heavy sadness which I carry around my neck now, on my shoulders.
Oh, how I wish I could feel the joy of that Saturday morning sunshine; the joy of my wedding and births of my children…Being in love with my wife, her feline ways, peals of laughter from wrestling my kids in the big bed, my beloved snowy forest during a snow storm, and the clean, green and white smell,
my dog in my lap with warm eyes of love,
my mother caring,
my father helping,
on and on and on and on…
The doors close, the doors open
I awake in this strange bed in Prague and walk downstairs and go out into the night to find something.
I’m looking for ghosts. I really want to see one…
I want to see some ghosts.