The autobiography of a ghost

It is said that men condemned to death are subject to sudden moments of elation as if, like moths in the fire, their destruction were coincidental with attainment. —John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold
I feel as if I’ve been dead, not for forever, but longer than I can remember. Occasionally, during strange and obscure moments of sobriety, I glimpse bright, fleeting images. I assume these images are from my previous life, before I was a ghost. However, I don’t know that. I suppose, particularly being a ghost, one never really knows anything for sure.


“This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg.” And this was the second, third, or maybe the fourth day, surely not the fifth, or sixth, I’d found myself reciting this, my morning mantra. “This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg.” Attempting to reaffirm where I thought I was. Where I believed I was. Where I thought and believed I existed—The Hótel Borg. Also, for a firmer foundation to my “reality,” I defined the term Hótel Borg I added and expounded, “The Hótel Borg is a stout, white, six-story building sitting elegant and austere in downtown Réykjavik.” Consequently, I also defined Réykjavik. “Réykjavik is the capitol of Iceland. Iceland is an island in the cold, north Atlantic.” This, regardless the accuracy of the definition or how “reality affirming,” sounded too much like defining myself, cold, northerly, an island. Suddenly, as I verged on tears, a man’s voice, a lilting baritone, shouted from the bathroom, “Thou art a retched drama queen!” Sniffling, rubbing nose and eyes, I attempted to refocus my focus, “The Hótel Borg overlooks the small, well appointed Austurvöllur Square. Austurvöllur Square—” Two other voices—one of Greek yogurt seasoned with honey and glass, the other hand-hewn leather stained with virgin’s blood—also shouted from the bathroom. “Triangle!” “Octagon!” “Hypotenuse!” “Nerd!” I ignored, as I had for the past two, three, or four days. Though I honestly feared the onslaught of insanity had been weeks, and quite probably months, if not years, or lifetimes. Regardless, I continued, “In the centre—” “Asshole.” “Rectum.” “Anus.” “Poop-shoot.” “—Of the square, on a cement, pyramidal dais—” “Sacrificial alter.” “—Stands the statue of Jón Sigurðsson, Iceland’s de facto modern day founder.” “Flounder.” “Bass.” “Bass.” “Guitar.” “He, as he’s represented, stands also austere, both hands gripping his jacket’s lapels, staring hopeful—” “Forlorn.” “Apologetic.” “Confused and concerned.” “—Pragmatic toward the alluring horizon, west. Where surely the future, in all its splendour, will rise.” “Is it moi? Or ‘tis that seemingly so Colonial?” the baritone asked, while the other two answered. “Fascist!” “Bolshevik!” “Khmer Rouge!” “Lip gloss!” “Mascara!” The Hótel Borg, so I’d inadvertently and hastily decided as the plane refuelled, would be my Castle of Solitude, my Last Stand Hill, my Marathon and Thermopylae. This would be where I figured my shit out—all of it, A to f-ing Z. This bunker of a building would be where I fought off the marauding hordes sure to swarm ashore to keep me from doing so. I would die here, or become immortal here. Period. “This is the Hótel Borg. This is—” “Klingon!” “Ferengi!” “Antaran!” I rolled over. “Ba’ku!” “Romulan!” “Kazon!” I attempted to ignore. “Vulcan!” “Jem’Hadar!” I attempted to focus on the sheets. I focused on their smooth, thin, silky white waves. I focused on how, with a soft shimmer, they rippled and glided over me. How…. Then (two days, three days, four?) I realized they’d done this before—the betrayal—reminded me of the caress of a woman. A woman I thought, believed I’d once known, though could not picture. “Daguerreotype!” “Sepia tone!” “Pax Romana!” “This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg.” Adjusting my gaze from sheets to skin, my eyes ran down the elongated view of my arm. Like frightened crusaders they fled past the shallow indent of elbow, the ridges of tendon, the jagged, dark stitches puckering the red wound, the pale blue delta of veins, the confluence of wrist, and discovered the curved cage of my palm, where, now surrounded, they, the frightened crusaders, my eyes, collapsed from exhaustion and a form of vertigo. “James Stewart!” Because for five fevered months I’d been sick with love my sophomore year for a senior film major, I added to the growing miasma, “D’Entre Les Morts!” A long, awkward pause bloomed. Before it sprouted awkward fruit, the baritone replied an angry rebuttal, “Kim Novack!” “Hitchcock!” “Penis!” “Wang!” I recognized the mistake. I could not—not now, not yet—join them. I curled, escargot, in upon myself, “This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg.” “Dick!” “Schlong!” My breath, hot, heated, in panting punches, a broad patch on my arm, “This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg.” “Ding-dong!” “Ding-dong!” “Ding-dong!” Like a starving dog, tethered and unable to escape, I sought the only sustenance I could reach, myself. I sunk my teeth into my flesh. The pain, at least momentarily, created a sharp sliver of clarity. I released my jaws, opened my eyes. Ignoring the jagged indents, I concentrated on the three glowing orbs greeting me. After a moment, I realized… The clock-radio defined the time, 5:59 a.m., but not the space I hurtled through. Nor did it clarify the space I (theoretically) occupied, the Hótel Borg, Réykjavik, Iceland, or…. “The worms greedily eating thee!” “The shield you are carried out on!” “The long snake—you ride—seven mile—you ride, you ride.” “Yon gallows thee swingest and swayest from!” “The whale devouring you!” “The sweet, ephemeral gas you choke upon!” “Thy love thee searchest for!” Again, the most perfect addict, I repeated, “This is the Hótel Borg. This is the Hótel Borg.”

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