The janitor said he saw LJ’s shadow lying down at midnight on the corridor floor. He dialed 911 and a police car came with a bucket and a mop to sweep the evidence under the carpet. LJ wasn’t there. He had climbed to his feet and scuttled away, a peregrine crab clicking his pincers over dry moonlight on a sanded floor.
He migrated to the elevator and the janitor watched as the needle jerked to a stop at every floor. Now they feared him in the washrooms. They stared at themselves in the mirrors and saw him as a kind of devil looking out with an offer of work for idle hands.
LJ is horned and hoofed and he breathes heavily as the customers clean their teeth and leave the cold tap running. When the water’s turned off, LJ’s long, thin fingers pluck the strings of their hearts and a quaint fibrillation fills the silence of this haunted house that breathes in and out, moving fine membranes of memory.
Upstairs, downstairs, a lonely route he treads while the wind at the window scratches tinkling notes. Something breaks loose in the confines of his mind and walks beside him. His twin brother stalks through this silvery sliver of splintered glass, this simian mirror wrinkling their troubled suits of skin.
LJ glimpses the old moon’s monkey face through a broken window. Jagged and coarse, it wanders like an itinerant snail, cobbled with clumsy clouds. A vagabond in a paving stone sky, it rumbles across metal cracks, a knapsack of nightmares humped on its old man’s back.
When the snail moves house who stores the furniture he leaves behind? The hermit crab lurks naked on the beach, seeking new lodgings. Two eyes in limbo watch LJ roll his snowman’s belly of flab across an unknown, clouded room. Who killed the candle and left him in the dark where a fallen star grazed by the lamppost?
A bouquet of golden sparks flew from an iron tree and sanctified the gutter. The gas lamps sputtered patiently in uniform rows. A scarecrow stuttered into the limelight and shook LJ’s hand. The skeleton was wearing LJ’s grandmother’s Easter bonnet, with all the flowers renewed, but she couldn’t keep his heart from last winter’s left over crumbs.
When a tulip thrust its tongue through the concrete. It became as red as a robin and flew into the lounge bar of a public house. The bronze leaf necklace circling LJ’s throat filled with a flow of springtime song. His heart stood upright like a warped piano and the skeletons in his cupboard emerged to tarry at the corner to play knucklebones with the wind.
Torn butterflies of news fluttered round the neighborhood. Yesterday’s horoscope winked its subversive eye and called to the hermit in his lonely cell: “Look out for the stranger with the tin can alley smile. Sharpen your knife and tie your heart to the tail of the first albino dog, white as a lily, that comes whistling down the street.”