The Journal of David, July Seventh, 2019
The fog rolled in early this time. It was the change of weather, I think, but it rolled in early all the same. A haze that blocked most of my view of the bay, something that never grew stale—an ever-fresh image, sometimes cloudy and beautiful, sometimes sunny and windy and beautiful. What was rather remarkable, though, was the morning sky. The sky was a dull, mild-colored purple; it made the dense fog radiate a light-purplish buzzing.
I arrived at the train station well within the boarding time, but I was nearly drawn into and stuck amid the purple fog. It seemed to whisper pleasant music to me, that lulled me and tranced me into its clutch, like a siren of the seas. It was ominous, but it was alluring.
The front of the train seemed to never pass by, and the only reason I knew it was there was the squeal of wheels on the track; the sigh of relief from the mechanisms as the doors open; the slowing of the chugging, round and round to a stop. The fog was so dense now, that when I looked through the cabin, the window on the other side only looked out into purple.
An older lady clad in elderly clothing (the red head-scarf, the big, furry sweater and t-shirt/skirt) brushed past me, patting me on my arms, saying “Excuse me, sir” as she did so; she had looked up with that old lady smile—the one that reminds you of a puppy smile, eyes squeezed shut by that wide, happy grin. “Oh, no, sorry. Excuse me;” I was meek, hasty to reply.
Sitting on the train was—as I kept murmuring into my jacket—“Oddly.” It was “oddly” purple; “oddly” foggy; there were “oddly” characters—the old lady, myself, and a drunken guy beside me. I was in a world out of the ordinary which I don’t find mundane. If only I wasn’t so exhausted by the night prior. If only the night before hadn’t been so wild, so incredible, so awe-inspiring…I’d have been normal. I’d’ have felt fine. But it was, and I wasn’t normal or fine, which was suited “oddly.”
The seats are never comfortable, especially in the first length of the trip. The car was jittery and the whooshing noise was droning. Normally, you’d get used to it; I did, but not because I blocked the sound out, but because a man, dressed in grungy finery of deep purple, had come onto the train from the fog with assuredness and calm, like this was where he was normal. He had a cane the color scheme of a plastic, child-magician’s wand.
He removed from the fog and sat within the cabin beside the elderly woman I had grown fond of. His coat-tail was just peeking out beneath him like a forked snake tongue—the inside of his coat was dark black, like a chasm at night.
“I’m going to put a hex on him,” is what I later figured were the words this purple-dressed man said into the ear of the elderly woman. During the train ride, it had seemed an odd intimacy to me for him to have done so.
It made me uneasy, that this man was on the train. He was young, about my age. He had a suit of purple that seemed dirty or with weeks of use gone unwashed. I couldn’t smell him, but the old woman had stopped smiling and began to doze off out the window, which was just a swirl of purple as the train plowed through the fog. She didn’t seem unhappy or awkwardly avoidant of the purple man, but she didn’t seem like she had been when she smiled at me. I wasn’t really myself either, to be honest. I wasn’t showing any sign of something unusual about me, but I could feel in my head a kind of thought: something heavy, like a bowling ball in my skull that I carried carefully to not touch my brain. It could’ve been residuals from the acid the previous night or my chronic depression—for me, it’s hard to discern between the two.
“Wonderful color, isn’t it,” Purple Man said to me, hollering over the sound of the tracks. I remember he had a deep voice; it was deep, but airy, not gravelly like a drinker or smoker./
“What is?” I had asked. The Purple Man hadn’t said what was a wonderful color. I knew he meant the purple, that’s the only color there was, but I was more surprised he had said something to me.
It, I repeated in my head an infinitum of times. It began to overlap my other thoughts as time moved forward and thoughts normal progressed normally; but It was on repeat in the back, only jolting to the forefront of my mind when it hit the bowling ball resting above my brow.
“You mean the sky?”
Purple Man pressed his cane hard against the ground, laying his full weight down upon it and hobbled over to the seat adjacent from me. The drunken man was already sitting there, but he asked if he could steal the spot—it looked to me that the man moved with a lack of free will. Then, like someone twice Purple Man’s age, he sat down hips and knees protected and stumbled into a relaxation in the bucket seat.
“Wonderful color, isn’t it?”
“The sky is weird today, yeah. Never seen it purple before.”
“Well, of course at night. Dusk-purple ‘s a crayon, I know. But morning-purple?”
“I don’t think I’ve seen the night.”
I ignored this comment, assuming it were a thought misspoken. At this point, though, I had removed myself from the conversation. I don’t recall how I did it, but I did. I most likely looked off. Looked away or just pretended/forgot his presence. This was a mistake, however, because he drew closer, his arm around my shoulder and his body cross-legged and leisurely in confidence.
“Israel—” he had called me, and only now do I recognize it as “oddly,” “—Stop wrestling.”
I had tried to respond, but he squeezed my shoulder—not ordinarily, though. He squeezed and dug his nails into my skin. When I checked later, I found a patch of skin gone. It was faint, but he had stolen my skin from me.
After we had sat like this in silence for what felt like an hour, he finally leaned back jovially and smiled wide—he was disturbing in that dirty suit.
“How about some magic? Like that?”
I wasn’t opposed. I didn’t think it was any odder than what had happened or was happening around us.
He pulled the top of his cane off and pulled from inside the hollow length a bouquet of plastic roses and handed them to me; “Smell them!” Then he flipped it over, tapped on the back, and as he lifted it upright again, from the tube came another cane, to which he did all that he did before, procuring another rose bouquet of plastic; “Smell those.” Instead of continuing, he looked at me with intensity in his features. “Smell those. Now.”
His voice had grown sinister, so, on fearful impulse, I smelled the plastic bouquet. What I had expected was a plastic scent (nonexistent), but instead, it smelled of roses. It was sweet, like fresh, wet morning roses.
“Now give them back.” Purple Man held his hand out. I gave him the roses. He put them back inside the mini cane, covered the top with his hand, wiggled his fingers, then handed me the hollow cane. “Drink from it.”
Rather than question him again, I drank from it and found that it was filled with wine. It was sweet, perhaps the best wine I had ever tasted. I was more than baffled by everything, nearly overwhelmed, I should say—I recall, faintly, that my hands were trembling and my heart racing, as though I were in the presence of something incomprehensible. I drank as much as I could, though, and then drank some more. It was an endless cane of wine.
When I had had my fill—too much (beer goggles had been strapped to my head)—I looked up at Purple Man and asked, “How? How the Hell—”
“Don’t mention such things…“Hell”…and a magician never tells of his tricks and their processes! More?” he asked me, looking into the cane, presumably noticing something left.
It was so sudden. How I hadn’t noticed the clearing of the fog is impossible to tell, but likely it was that I was just too distracted by the magic that this man was conjuring. I had meant to ask him when the fog had gone, and when the sun had taken its usual color, radiating blue rather than purple, but the man had gone. A shadow is all that was left there in his chair; my shadow. It’s a good thing I’m not afraid of my own shadow, I think, and a thought, that is, that I don’t think is all that usual; “oddly,” that thought is. A thought from a past so long ago—when I was 5, perhaps. That’s when children get over their shadows, right? Either way, the man was gone, and the old lady was smiling again at the trees passing by outside the cabin. Just beyond her, however, I swear I could see the purple tail-coat of the Purple Man passing into the cabins far, far ahead of the back seat I was seated in. What’s most interesting to me now, though, is that the shadow that sat there couldn’t have been my own shadow—I was facing the sun. Must’ve been residuals from the acid, I guess.