Nighttime fears, who knows when they started. Maybe when Peter Paul Markin first learned of, thought of, had self-experience of night. Not just any kind of night, city night, the night blaring with lamppost light, and shadow throws. Stranger misshapen phantom shadows, wolf-eaten fairy tale shadows, and real shadows that contained jack-rollers, or worst. Jack-roll shadows, real enough, if one was not careful, or was too young or too old. He had heard that it happened, happened right up on Captain’s Walk to some old lady who didn’t hold on to her handbag quickly enough. And off the shadowy thief went with his booty. He, the thief, according to her description a young he maybe one of those depraved juvenile delinquents that she had heard about and was all over the news at six with black hair, black eyes and black heart, white, of course, there were no blacks, browns, yellows, red, in chummy “projects” shadow night, that would come later. Sounded just like Peter’s older heathen older brother who had made off with her certified one carat fake gold watch and fifteen cent car-fare. So much for heroic brotherly exploits.
Red-flagged Stalin-named night fears, walking down shadowy back school lanes toward darken sailors’ granite-etched cemetery rest thinking about icy blank, snow-frozen bleak Vorkutas of the mind although he could not have fathomed, not in a million years, his own Stalin night fears. And pick-ax travails awaiting heroic resisters. Knowing even in red-splotched time that some stories told did not make sense or that wasn’t the whole story or maybe he got it confused with the brother jack-roller story and shrieked in the night that no, no way was he to blame and no way that he would not fight, fight the good fight to the end, wherever that end might lead.
Red bomb unnamed shelter blast fears, atomic blow-up fears none the less real for all of that. Get under the bed fears, or under the desk, down in the basement somewhere but mainly as victim and not as victor, once again being jack-rolled by some black-haired, black-eyed, black-hearted hustler who would not come out of the shadows, unnamed, damn unnamed, and unnamable, even worst. Conned fears into that good night and one best stay put and unnamed. And what happens, what the hell happens, when that little old lady now bereft of her sweet gold watch given by some old-time lover as a token, a sincere token of his favor, and who knows maybe her favors, and that black-haired, black-hearted devil, white of course, get into the same cave and start the human race over again. Once those fears start who knows where things lead.
Named, vaguely named, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg hated stalinite jews executed fears. All he knew. Peter Paul knew okay, was jews killed our catholic lord fears, close to the altar sign of the cross blessed fears the smell of incense still stuck in his nostrils from high mass, or was it low, burning incense and praying, praying that this one sacrifice would atone for the million year hurts brought by the vengeful night shadow. But just that minute, maybe less, a thought flashed, flashed so quickly that he almost missed thought, and he had stumbled into “what did they do anyway” fears, and why. And that why would haunt him through hard anti-semite nights, some liberations, and some knowledge that those atomic dreams that shadowed his nights were not named Julius and not named Ethel and sure as hell were not named jew, gold watch-wearing jew.
And once again as he walked down that shadowy back school lane (why, why in god’s name, did he court danger by leaving small-roomed house, the shelter-less house, bombs or the world to face the shadow night. Whole tomes could be written about that need later but now it remained a book sealed with seven seals). Against the cubed-glass glistening, flagless flag-pole rattling, dark asphalt-rutted pavement school yard night, Peter Paul, alone, and, and, alone with his fears and fears avoidance, clean, clear as he heads to stand alone in avoidance of old times sailors, tars, sailors’ homes AND deaths in barely readable fine- marked granite-grey lonely seaside graveyards looking out on ocean homelands and lost booty. Dead.