Sunday, February 7, 2016

I Will See You In The Sky Tonight

The stars seem a bit dim as I walk along Konigstrasse’s pedestrian path. The lights of Potsdam behind me and Berlin too far yet to see, I begin to think a walk to the closest train station to take me to Berlin was motivated by red wine. Three kilometers to the Wannsee Station in this inky night was starting to seem very overwhelming.
I should just turn ‘round, I think to myself. I’ll go back across the Glienicke Bridge and grab the bus from there instead. Just as I am about to turn around on the path,  I notice something I had never noticed before. “That looks like a coffee shop,” I say rather loud, almost scaring myself.
“It is. And it’s getting quite cold so we should both probably warm up, eh?”
From behind me, a rather mod dressed man in a blue paisley suit with dirty blonde hair and a quite odd pair of eyes comes around on my left side. He keeps walking past me and only turns slightly to see if I was taking his advice.
“Yes. That is a good idea.” I begin to follow the man down the path to the coffee shop. “Wait a minute, you’re British,” I suddenly realize as we get closer. I also notice that this coffee shop that seemingly appeared overnight, looks as if it had been at this random spot for decades.
Clad in boots, jeans, a dress shirt, and long brown leather coat, I am welcomed rather normally into the shop filled with dandy dressed men and women. Cigarette smoke and coffee fills the air along with the sounds of the era coming from a jukebox in the corner.
“Is that your new friend?” an elfish looking man playing guitar sits on the table crossed legged. “I like ‘er shoes.” He continues to play from the exact note where he had stopped as we walked in.
I sit at the table across from the man and stare as two cups of black coffee in mismatched china appear in front of us. “You’re all British?”
            “Seems so, love.” He says before taking a sip of the coffee.
            I pull the cup closer, the warmth is definitely needed. “Is there a full moon tonight? I mean, it just seems like there are stars missing in the sky.” As I say this, the man playing guitar begins to laugh.”
            “It’s time to say good bye.” The man’s dual colored eyes sparkle at me.
            “But we just got here.” I finally take a sip of the coffee. It tastes like it had been made in the 1960’s.
            “Stop. You don’t know me. But you know me.” The me is emphasized with a tilt of his eyebrow. “I’m going to get you a lift to the Wannsee Station and on your way, I think you’ll understand a little bit more.” With that he proceeds to stand up and walks behind me until I no longer hear his footsteps.
            The guitar playing continues as I take in the warmth out of the coffee cup. I watch as people have serious and hysterical conversations, all while looking phenomenal. As I listen to the man sing about dancing and stars, a bright light illuminates the sky. I stand at the table, almost knocking over my chair.
            “Your ride is ‘ere.” says the guitar playing man without skipping a note.
            I turn and walk where my coffee date has disappeared. I exit out the door we had come in. Idling near the road is a toad green Hillman Imp, a classic 1970’s mini car. When I look to make sure the door has closed behind me, I turn to find I am touching a tree. The coffee shop and all those in it are suddenly just a memory.
            “Okay,” I say to myself. As I walk to the car, I notice one bright star in the sky. “That wasn’t there before.” The passenger door opens by itself. As I begin to climb into the front seat, I notice a presence behind me. He is skinny, with reddish hair, and dressed in a simple white t shirt and dress pants. Again, those eyes, one blue the other green.
            “It’s like you just fell out of the sky.” I say as I make my way into the back seat instead.
 He says nothing as I get into the car.
I sit and as the passenger claims his seat. I am greeted by the driver.
            The man, pale and with red hair, speaks in a British accent. “You’re lost.” I notice he wears bright blue eye shadow, the same blue as the man in the paisley suit at the coffee shop.
            “You're insane, I’m not lost. The man at the coffee shop, your friend, I’m sorry I forgot to get his name. I wanted to thank him for getting you to drive me to the S Bahn station.” I look at both men who are now focused on the road ahead of us.
            “I’m Thomas.” Says the simple looking one.
            “I’m Ziggy.” Says the driver.
            “Sure.” I say with some snark, but soon pause. “You do remind me of someone.”
            “We damn well should.” Thomas turns to me. “You’ve got to say goodbye.”
            The driver speeds down the highway until it feels like we’re flying. Buildings, houses, cars, lights, all speed by. “Young American,” he speaks without blinking. “Why were you walking to Berlin in the first place?”
            “I needed to clear my mind.” I begin to think we should be at the train station by now but there is seeming intergalactic travel happening around me. “Ever lose a hero? Someone that inspired you?”
            The car stops suddenly with no ill effect to all of us contained inside of it. We are parked at the train station. The driver turns to me. It was then I noticed the lightning bolt in red and blue adorning his eye. “Yes we have. And while suitable to be sad, their loss should inspire you. Inspire you to appreciate each day and work to make yourself memorable, whereas one day, it will be you that someone is missing.” He turns around and faces forward again.
            Thomas opens up the door and moves the seat, encouraging me to get out of the car. “It’s been a pleasure.”
            I exit the car and stand looking at the train station, now hoping it wasn’t too late to get the last train into Berlin. The slamming of the car door startles me. I turn to find it too, like the coffee shop, gone. Vanished into the thin, chilly air of Germany. What I think are its headlights are actually coming from the sky. Two more stars next to the first one that appeared earlier.
            A taxi cab honks furiously at me as I stand in the drive. Quickly, I walk to the station. A few people walk around, mostly cleaning and maintenance staff. I purchase my ticket to Brandenburg Tor Station thinking I have some time to relax and take in this strange journey. Turns out, I don’t. The train’s light shines about 30 seconds out as my mind begins to run before my legs.
            To not alarm anyone, I try to casually jog to the platform. When the train comes to a full stop and the doors open, I bolt to the doors. Once inside the warm car, I breathe a sigh.
            “In a hurry?” A thin, pale man is seated to my right. His red hair has more blonde in it but those blue and green eyes twinkle at me. “Sit. I think you’re beginning to understand.” He picks up his black hat that has been saving my pre-destined seat and places it softly on his feathered hair.
            “David?” I sit, mesmerized.
            “No. The Thin White Duke, who else would you expect?” He pulled out a cigarette box and offered me one.
            “No thanks. I could go for some wine.” I make a face that I can only assume looks like a child who has been offered brussel sprouts and wanted candy instead.
            And magically, a styrofoam cup is handed to me, brimming with glowing red wine. “It’s much better than the coffee, trust me.” He has a cup for himself and manages to hold the cigarette and the cup while taking a long sip.
            “Thank you.” It does indeed taste glorious. It’s dry, puckery taste fills my mouth and warms me even more on the now stifling train. “Is this some sort of trip I’m on?”
            “You tell me,” he scoffs. “But I’ve got to say goodbye soon.”
            I drink half the cup in one gulp. “I’m having a tough go at this. You know…”
            “Me being dead? You know," he begins before standing and trying to get around my knees, “just because I’ve got to say goodbye doesn’t mean you have to.”
            “Berlin Yorkstrasse,” the courteous train voice announced.
            “Three more stops.” He says as he hands me his almost empty cup of wine. He places sunglasses over his eyes and tilts his hat forward. “It’s been a pleasure.” And he is off the train as soon as the doors open.
            I don’t bother to see what has happened to him as his feet touched the platform, the flash in the sky gives me the answer. “Another one.” I say aloud to the empty car and take the last sips from both cups of wine.
            When I stand as the train pulls into Brandenburg, the wine catches up with me. The entire train seems to spin around as I attempt to find the door and exit. The world stops spinning as I greet the platform with both soles. I am in Berlin.
            As I walk past the famous and towering Brandenburg Gate, I pause to look up again in the sky. And yet again, near Mars, another star has appeared making the night seem brighter. Tourists stop to take pictures as I wait for any other visitors as I walk closer to my hotel. I do not have to go far past the shops and restaurants.
            “Now do you recognize me?” says a bleach blonde dressed in a fancy, baggy gray suit. “I do believe this is how we first met.”
            It all comes back. Watching Live Aid in my sister’s sweltering bedroom. I was eight and music was my candy. “Seeing you for the first time, Mr. Bowie, I wanted a suit just like yours, I wanted to style my hair like yours.”
            “David, please. And when you wore that suit to school or styled your short hair differently?”
            “It was awful. I felt like a freak. No one understood.” I sit on a bench.
            He sits next to me, his being emanating heat on the chilly night. “It was better than the Tina Turner skirt you wanted to wear, wasn’t it?” He chuckles as he stands. “Walk with me.”
            “You’ve been a part of my life. You’re the soundtrack to so many memories.” I shove my cold hands in my pockets.
            We get to the corner of Fredrichstrasse and stop. “Just remember. And keep creating. Keep changing. Inspire others.” He puts his hand on my shoulder. “I will see you in the sky tonight.” He points up to the sky with his left hand. “Someone is waiting for you at Café Adler.
            I turn right and begin walking toward what used to be Checkpoint Charlie. Just like my night, I walk through history. This street used to represent as a gateway to freedom. Tourists and locals are slowly making their way home. Suddenly, the chilly night becomes damp and everyone around me seems to disappear. The sidewalk looks like it has been strewn in stardust. Pinks, yellows, blues, and greens sparkle a path between what used to be East and West Berlin, made even brighter by the additional star in the sky.
            Invisible footsteps and then a mist escapes an invisible mouth. “I move the stars for no one.” He manifests as he did when I was ten.
            “But you do have power over me. You always will.” My goblin king stands before me even though I had willed and wished him to take me away when I was a child. His hair, long, face, pale and gray, his clothing, black and red. “Are those skulls on your shoes?”
            “What was it that Ludo, Hoggle, and Didymus remind you?”
            “That it’s okay to need them now and again.”
            He walks closer. “And don’t you think the same for me?” He begins to back away as the wind picks up. The stardust begins to fill the air. He turns and continues to walk away. The wind continues to swirl.
            I shut my eyes involuntarily because the wind is swirling up everything. Suddenly, it is still. I open my eyes to the empty street. I look up to the sky but there is no extra star. Dejected, sad, angry, and confused, my arm suddenly begins to burn. I tear off my coat and roll up my sleeve. On my arm, a black star tattoo. Underneath it is written: Shall You Need Us.  
            The people return to the street, walking across the border no longer there. I stand, jacket at my feet, staring nonsensically at my arm. In the café once known as Adler, familiar chords waft through the air. I roll my sleeve down and pick up my coat as the guitar player begins to sing:
We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone, a long long time ago