On the second Tuesday of each month, Fitzgerald’s night club in Berwyn, IL hosts a storytelling and music event called Voice Box. There is monthly theme for storytellers to work from, the themes being a song title, which usually reflects the season in some manner. This month’s theme was ‘Ghostbusters.’ Cathy Richardson, a fucking amazing singer, no joke, starts the night out by performing the theme song and then Voice Box founder, Maureen Muldoon, introduces the evening’s speakers. A story is told, either from the hip or pre-written (my comfort) and then Cathy comes back up and performs a song inspired from what she just heard being read, from ‘Rhiannon’ to ‘I’ve Had the Time of My Life’ to the Prentenders’ ‘The Wait’ to some of Cathy’s original. It’s an amazing back and forth night of art. Last night my wife, Emily, shared a great story about her family and their visits to Alaska and how past desperation from the gold rush still haunts those northern trails as well as Em’s own recollection. She draws up spirits of the fraught and of horses, victims of men. The story is rich and sad but there’s a hopefulness kept from the eyes of her as a child. You feel for these animals. And maybe, too, the prideful men that found themselves overwhelmed too late. I’ll ask if she’ll let me post it for you to read.
When the feature readers are finished, the stage is open to the audience to share a five-sentence story. Here’s mine from last night:
I am visited by a ghost, unconjured, immediate, in the familiar, my front room now, a restaurant we both knew, now. I’m greeted with her shuffle and grin and that blue and orange handkerchief she’d cover her rollers with after a Saturday at-home perm, her apartment filled with the perfume of hair chemicals and frying peppers. In my dream, the visit isn’t marked with those smells but, rather, a very lucid and aware reaction on my part of incredulity and surprise and sadness because in my dream my grandmother is real, she is now, and I tell her how I thought she died, which she did, ten years ago, in our collective awake. I tell her how much I missed her while she was in hiding, was she hiding?, and at some point I realize that our visit is bounded and small and I prepare to come back in time and my eyes then open. To re-lose the already lost is to be haunted.