Rob Pauly and I were once held at gunpoint. We were fifteen.
Sitting on a bench, I remember wearing sunglasses and feeling older as I told this story to strangers who invited me to live with them. This would be my first place I would live on my own. They didn't bother to call, one of them, who I had forgotten his name years ago, said they wanted someone older. And this memory just came to me like the smell I haven't smelled in years, and I can instantly remember when the last time I smelled that smell.
Elephant hills are hills common in New Mexico that slope and then ascend with nearly doubling the adjacent slope in degree of angle; this was easier to explain with my hand forming a wave of pavement sloped down and then pinching upwards sharply like an airplane reaching to high altitude. I flew in the air and broke my wrist on an elephant hill once. I was twelve.
"You know more about me than my mom does." -Mr. Ghost
I wanted to stop the soundtrack of your voice, it was the beauty that made me sad. I rested my head on the bridge of crossed arms, and I looked down to my feet, and thought you were half an inch away from biting my leg and the fur that covers it. Instead you licked my elbow and said we were playing Sharks. I said Tremors. You replied to my words with a question, and I explained to you that in the movie, which starred Kevin Bacon, Tremors, there was an on-going act of jumping from one giant rock to another, and furniture to furniture because these giant worm things would rip through the ground or floor and eat you! Some kids called the game "Lava", you called it Sharks. I wondered what your childhood would've been like. I told myself I would trade my entire childhood just to know every detail of yours. I realized how much you mattered and it made it worst. Your voice continued, that made it unbearable as I listened on. I was confused. I looked for you around my shoulder, underneath me, and perhaps in the bathroom as I knocked on the door. No response.
My words felt so small to your voice; you spoke in poetry without trying. You were honest, naive, and just you. I knew I couldn't be that, that my words were all attempts to get closer to you. The soundtrack ends and loud upbeat lounge/club music reminded me you left a while back. The room fell silent as I paused the player, and thought of writing a response to what you left me. This is the only way I could tell you how much the record of your voice and your stories mean to me.
Did you hear me say goodbye before the elevator door closed, I said it this time, as I walked back, feeling indescribable. Am I still a phantom, am I still a ghost? I was twenty-three.