Memory of a Ghost Days Gone By by Andrew Scott

The Nine Gates by Andrew Scott

Memory of a Ghost Days Gone By by Andrew Scott

Prologue – Staring Memories

I cannot believe I am back here again.
Swore to myself and the sky
that I would never come back here
no matter what part of life
would have me here staring at the entrance.

I am sitting on a park bench,
breathing with stress and anxiety,
looking all around,
noticing nothing has changed.
When I left I truly knew it never would,
this only confirmed it.

I have finished my third cigarette
in the last twenty minutes,
both hands are barely holding them.
Scolding my wrists with tipping coffee.

Have not felt this way for years,
I am not sure if I can do this.
Staring, rocking back and forth.
Just the thought of going into that neighbourhood
is unlocking so many memories
and none of them comforting.

Chapter I – The Homestead Foundation

From where I am sitting
I can see the top of the old homestead.
The roof is showing the age of weathered storms,
greying, splintered wood siding
is fraying away at each seam.
Then again this abode
never really did have a solid foundation,
been rotting since I can remember.

Flashes of childhood scenes roam in my mind.
There was never Sunday drives
or playing catching or waving at neighbours.

This place was built on withered ground,
full of anger and resentment
or that was all I felt during those years.
Constantly heard bickering from the adults
about the job, the home, the bills,
the neighbourhood and the lazy occupants.
Neither of the adults had a smile
or a twinkle in their eye.

When I was home, I hid from it
with fear of my hiding place being found
until I was old enough to sneak out
into the shadows of the night undetected.
That was my solace until I moved.

Not shocked or surprised that it all is crumbing now,
that was started before my time I believe.
I never felt welcomed here,
always felt the decaying, resentful foundation.

Chapter II – Neighbourhood

Lighting another cigarette,
I can say that the rest of the neighbours
were not the most hospitable bunch either.

To visitors, there were peering eyes
of curiosity of the unknown,
examinations of other’s distant relatives
happened through the nosy eyes of every window.

Growls were given to the young
by the older generation
that never bothered to leave here.

They somehow knew every step
taken by anyone but them.
Frightening how much
their judging eyes knew
in every private corner.

To even smile crooked
or act the young age I once was,
disappearing to the outside world
was the only way to be me
without having to be afraid
of the unsaid thoughts
of the neighbourhood watch.

Though crossing that line to the outside
was not as sunny at times as it sounds
but I got to live and learn
and have the inside emotions
to prove it all.

Chapter III – The Fight

I remember I was fourteen,
that age where you started defining yourself
or so I thought.

It was a time where I would be punished
for where I was from, not who I was.

In another portion of town
there was a girl that I was enamoured with.
I had only seen her through school
but knew if I walked passed her home
that maybe she would say hello to me,
though I knew she was so out of my league.
The plan never really worked.

On one of my afternoon strolls though her neighbourhood
I ran into a group of five
boys pretending to be protective men,
guarding their terrain against intruders,
and, to them, I was just that.

Scared because I did not know what to expect.
Five guys, some older, smaller, larger,
surrounding me, giving me no where to go.

The beating was painful and swift.
The larger on did the work
and I did not stand a chance
while the audience of four cheered him on.

I laid there, cut and bruised
while they went to walk away.
The message was clear, stay away
and it was received loudly.
Not one of my kind was allowed,
whatever that kind was.

That was the last and only time
I was not prepared for the fight.
No one could touch me after that,
whether it was deserved or not.

Interlude – Coffee and Cigarettes

All of these thoughts are beating
my nerves that are twitching every where.
If anyone paid attention to me
as I sit here on this bench
they would think I was coming off of a high.
I am shaking that much.

My coffee is empty
and to move forward
I am going to need another.
There is an old café around the corner
so I will go there to calm myself.

I will need more cigarettes soon,
only three left in this tattered pack.

I know neither truly calm you
but right now it is all I need.
Who knows when I will actually walk forward
so these habits are comforting
unlike some other ones I used to have.

Chapter IV – Alcohol

I sit, back at my park bench.
The street is coming alive with activity,
since it is Friday, the scene is familiar.
I remember it like it was yesterday,
the adults sitting on their decks,
sipping on the cheapest drinks
until they could not function
unless fists were needed with each other.

Us kids always waited for this night.
All week we would siphon the cheap wine
our parents hid away.
It was enough to make enough for us all.
I was always the richest,
two parents that hid theirs from each other.

Hiding in the woods was the easy part,
not far from home
but far enough not to be found.
Though I am sure the elders never looked.

The one night of the week I was popular,
knew it was because of my liquid haul
but I did not care.
I was temporarily accepted
if only for a few hours.

Teenage emotion mixed with toxic liquid,
sooner or later there would be an eruption
and as in the stupor I was
I remember that night as clear as yesterday.

Chapter V – The Eruption

It was a typical Friday night
in the heat of July.
We kids went off to the woods
after the adults started their festivities
with our stolen stash.

I am not sure when we came out,
it was well after the sunset
and our cheap blend of wine was gone.

I was stumbling home
barely able to think
but somehow able to walk
when the homestead came into view.
Not a light on anywhere,
I felt I was safe
when I walked up the porch steps
I was wrong, completely.

In the shadow of the darkness
was the angry elder
no worse or better than I was
but with the aura of anger.

He knew about the thievery,
though it was apparent
that the old man had more than enough.

Toe to toe we stood,
accusations and denials abound.
In frustration I turned to go in
when I felt a dirty hand on my shoulder.
Always prepared, I swung first.
The strikes and noise were brutal
and we went until a member
of a gathering audience stopped it.

I know I struck because I expected his first.
That was the only predictable thing.
How it ended I would never have seen coming.
Being held back, my known elder,
spitting blood in my face,
screaming venom,
about how he was not my father anyway.
Right there, the final punch, I was beaten.

Interlude II – Upon Reflection

In thinking of that day, over and over
the real punch made absolute sense.
My father’s contempt for not one neighbour
but each and every one of them.
They were all holding a secret
in his accusing mind.

At the time I did not care
about his feelings about it.
It was not until years later
that I finally got it
when almost the same thing happened to me,
betrayal amongst people you knew.
The laughing and pointing.

The largest betrayal came from me.
I never told him,
I kept the secret with me,
the answer to it all, I knew.

Chapter VI– The Secret

One of the best parts
in being in a home
that no one noticed
your coming or going
is that no one noticed
when you were a shadow in the night.

I saw her car in a different drive,
more than one time,
when my mother was supposed to be working,
hidden by the homeowner’s car.

The shadows in the window
told the complete story
to this curious teenager.

Shock the first time I saw,
then just came numbness.
Not sure if forgiveness
ever came through my mind.
Deep down, living in my home too,
I understood.

So many things came together,
why I looked different,
acted a little unique.
Even other relatives mentioned it.
I was not the same
as the family bloodline
and never would be.

Chapter VII – Decisions

It all brings us to the present
and the uneasiness I have.
Sitting here, wondering why I am here.

My parents have both passed on
from this world into another,
hope the anger passed on too.
Maybe mine will pass also.

I was invited to meet
my mother’s secret face to face.
A person who never before tried.
Perhaps hiding from other’s torment
even though we all knew.

All of this has lead to me staring,
trying to decide to keep walking forward
to meet the one that helped define
the emotional upheaval without meeting me.

My emotions are torn
but I am picking up my knapsack, readjusting my ball cap
and walking on, away from here.
He was not the relationship I wanted and today, it still is not.

July 23, 2013
© Andrew Scott – Just A Maritime Boy 2013


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Bio: Andrew Scott is a native of Fredericton, NB. During his time as an active poet, Andrew Scott has taken the time to speak in front of a classrooms, judge poetry competitions as well as published worldwide in such publications as The Art of Being Human, Battered Shadows and The Broken Ones. His books, Snake With A Flower, The Phoenix Has Risen and The Storm Is Coming are available now


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