Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Mermaid House: Part One


IT IS A COBWEB BIRTH, the awareness of betwixt and between, the world of the children of nothing and night.

Leander Cyrus was seventeen when he came to San Francisco from a midwestern town where things had been as colorless as The Wizard of Oz before Dorothy landed in that Technicolor otherworld. He had a mother and a father, but he might as well have been an orphan, because they worked, and he was used to being on his own. He wanted to be a filmmaker, but that had been nothing but a hobby in his old town. Here, in this city not far from Hollywood, it was a possible career. His new school even encouraged it.
    It was as if the city were a cure he'd needed. He grew taller. His hair burnt to gold. His outcast love of the Seventies, reflected in his T-shirts and jeans, were acceptable in this place of sun and sea. And his mother, to make up for not being there, bought him a video camera, a sleek black Sony. His hands shook when he lifted it out of the box.
    He wasn't drawn to the glassy glamour of new San Francisco. It was the old places that fascinated him, the ones with histories: Cameron House and the Neptune Society Columbarium, abandoned buildings and creepy streets. He'd film them at dusk, when they had more character.
    He found the old neighborhood by accident, when he drove up a crooked hill street where the houses were tangled with trees he couldn't identify. The trees were twisty and dark, with heavy leaves that only allowed a bit of sunlight through. As the sun faded, orange shadows crept across a cluster of shabby Victorian houses and the street was submerged in weird light. He could hear the ocean, see it beyond some of the houses.
    An eerie disorientation made him shake his head, as if that would clear his skull.

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