Monday, May 2, 2011

A Phone Call From the Dead

     A small breeze rattled the cellophane around wrapped flowers.  My wife and I walked among the generations of the dead as the growls of feral cats echoed off the rows of tightly packed mausoleums.  We were halfway through the Poblenou cemetery and there wasn’t another living soul around which was made evident by the lonesome sound of my boots on the concrete.

This cemetery was set up in 1775 and some of the mausoleum markers were as withered as the memories of those that had passed.  As soon as I walked into the gates I noticed the gaps between the rich dead and the poor.  I couldn’t tell if the sun was playing tricks on my eyes or if the darkness creeping in was caused by the clouds.

I sat on a ladder people used to reach their family crept and rolled a cigarette.  From a pane of glass protecting a slab of marble I could see my own ashen reflection and the reminder of what would become of me one day.

As I meandered into an alcove I stopped to admire small trinkets people had lovingly placed onto the lips of their family crypts and read the names etched into the side of the door frames.  Picture after picture of strangers flipped by like an antique photo album, and as I stood admiring one of the sculptures I noticed what the cats were fighting about; a freshly killed pigeon.

We walked back to a older part of the cemetery were wealthier patrons bought themselves a little more elbow room and the statue dedicated to those who died of yellow fever was sculpted in such detail Goth girls would have sold a few spare eggs to buy a replica.  We had already been wondering around for hours, and I thought we were almost finished, but then we reached the back of the graveyard full of huge family crypts bigger than New York apartments.

I  was impressed.  I had already lost my wife as what drew our attentions turned us different ways through the labyrinth.  Then every corner I walked around scared the pigeons out of their roosts. Many of the crypts had beautiful stained glass windows, and as I peered into the doors through the layers of dirt I could see the antique furniture, organs, and alters sealed in the walls like rooms in a house long abandoned.


My mind was elsewhere when Kaycie walked up.  I hadn’t heard a human voice in a few hours when she called out my name.  I jumped a little then adjusted my hat.  She cupped something in her hands like a baby bird and her eyes were all wide.

“Look what I found.” She said.

She opened up her hands to reveal a beat up cell phone.  It was old.  Flecks of chrome paint were missing from the white plastic body like meat chunks tore off of a zombie.

“Don’t touch that.  It probably has pigeon shit on it.”  I said.

“No look.  I found it on the edge of that crypt over there.  It still has power.  In fact it’s fully charged.

I looked around to see if someone had snuck up on us.  We had been rambling through this graveyard for over four hours and had yet to see a single soul.  Kaycie handed the phone to me and I flipped the old Nokia in my hand.  Then it rang.

I almost dropped it.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I hit the end button on the phone and a second later it rang again.  I am not easy to scare, but even I am not answering a phone call from the dead.

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