Why do they seek me out? Why do they haunt me so? Is it because I am also them? I am one of them with my membership card in my hand, with my dirty shoes and ragged clothes as proof true. Are these specters me? Do I run loose in my mind or does my mind run loose in my head? Am I haunting myself? Have the sinews and synapses allowed my brain to break free like a ship's cargo in a storm?
They cohabitate with me when my eyes close to sleep. I hear their voices; I hear their labored steps. I hear their children until I wake in a sweating, frozen terror and I wish to scream for them to be gone from me! But it is no use, because I can't. They are the strangers who know me and the ghosts who are me and I carry their chains as penance for my crimes like Marley.
I watch their numbers grow, as I watch the world spit on them and cuss them and excoriate them and fit them for their crown of thorns. The populace put forth a shallow, false bravado to hide the fear, the fear of being next, of walking alone, of being spit upon, of being hated by the world. The fear of the hundredth job application for a job you're overqualified for but under-qualified for because you're too old or too young or too female or too male, but most of all you're under-qualified because you want to get paid for your work.
The charlatans who strut the days in matinees of palisades and serpentine splendor that remains to remind us that all the world is a stage, but the play is all of fiction. Their names may change as fast as the facts, but never forget they run in packs, and sleep better knowing that their money's safely in the banks. So don't try to phone, don't try to call, don't you ring the doorbell and wait on the lawn, for they don't know you.
They have names for you, of course, and programs for you and forms to fill out and waiting periods and calculations. Stratagems and economic theories and black-tie dinner parties over food you've never tasted and wine you've never drunk, followed by dessert and champagne to celebrate their escape from the life you must daily lead. Slowly it begins to come to me why these ghosts disturb my rest; it is because I hear them and they do not. I feel them and they do not. I am one of them and they are not.
I will call them out; I will call them out of their temples even if the star catchers and cultists object. Holy rollers steeped in party and baptized with the holy water of political furor. It's not heads I win, tails you lose. We all lose. You play the game, but they run they game. When your man calls six they all chant, yes, six hooray! When their man calls six they cuss and yell, oh no, not six! So excuse me while I laugh because it's all the same play, for penny-stinkers and kings!
But no, they cry out from the temple pews, you've just got to believe! You've just got to! Otherwise Tinkerbell will be lost to us. Come on now, you've got to have hope! With hope we can do anything, so come on, join us, lets all hope real hard for Tinkerbell. You see? I think it's working. I see a light shining. Sure, that's it; everyone hope real hard!
Yes, I see the light, too, but I see it in the dark, for in the dark there is a clarity. A clarity not given to those who live in the light. A thousand points of light are surrounded by a million points of darkness, and those of us with concrete for beds, we know this unquestioningly. Hope is a four letter word, but so is help and so is food; hope is what you hold onto when there is no help or food. Like fairy sprites, it is all a make-believe game.
But our night is as real as is their day. Hope is not a plan, hope is a way to dodge the blame and for them to say heretic! You're disloyal, go away! You don't believe when I would upend, but 'tis for you to unrecommend. For that will change naught, and it will change nigh, because I will condemn all those who lie. For to silence me won't silence the others, as they, too, will begin to haunt you under the covers. At night time close in safe repose, you'll see their shadows, you'll wear their clothes and you will know what they know.
Reality is stone and fantasy whipped cream, and no, this is real and not a dream. The night men grow and their numbers swell, and without saving us there is no saving Tinkerbell.