20100823

Listen to Me, Dutchman



With another hour before the dinner service begins, Norman Martina and the Dutchman are smoking in the old card room on the third floor. Between them sits the ghost of Henry Grau, the club's former manager, savoring the fumes.

- I got to get out of this place.
- Yeah.
- I mean it, Dutchman! I got to go back to Aruba.
- Long as I know you, Martina, ten years now, you say this every winter.

Mostly used for storage, the card room had also become the winter break room for the remaining smokers on the staff, every one of whom figured that when old man Grau quit, after his heart attack two seasons ago, it wouldn't be long before he made them stand outside like smokers everywhere else.

- Last night my mother she come to me in a dream, Dutchman. And all my sisters too.
- They need money?
- It's no joke, man! I'm sitting right in this room and that old elevator from the kitchen --
- Dumbwaiter, says Grau.
- What?

Despite or perhaps due to this compulsory abstemiousness, Grau looked the other way the first winter. Keep a window cracked, he growled, and police your butts.

- I didn't say nothing, Martina.
- That's the name for it, says Grau.
- Whatever they call it, says Martina, the damn thing open up and there's all this light coming out.
- I don't think it even works anymore, not for years.

Grau died the next summer, after the disastrous Levine-Kauffman wedding. Karla found him slumped on the stairs, a few steps short of the third floor landing.

- You should go, says Grau.
- What?
- They stand all around me and then we start to rise up.

The Dutchman’s mind is suddenly flooded with an image: light coming through the ladder windows of his mother’s apartment on the Henriette Ronnerplein in Amsterdam.

- Wait, what happens?
- Listen to me, Dutchman!
- You should go.

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Image: Stacks of chairs by talented flickr user tyrone warner, used under a Creative Commons license.

3 comments:

Nick said...

yeah; place doesn't need any more ghosts.

Lee said...

I wrote this in hopes of annoying:

- people who hate hearing about other peoples dreams

- people who hate ghost stories

- the Dutch

Nick said...

I am Dutch.

However, we are all thick skinned. Something you might have expected, what with our history and all.