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“passing through walls”

by Jamie Thompson

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It’s weird walking slowly in my sock-feet in the dark not knowing where the stairs begin and end, the moon soars tiny sliding past the plants, not knowing if i’ll trip or fall in an instant. A moment’s notice in the all-white city dark, front-to-backwards, feeling my way, vertiginous and vast and new again. White lights like stars dimly glow the hidden stairway. Crow’s nest concealed in a century-old sealed attic crawlspace, the wind preternatural and auspicious, a dry scuttle of November leaves mute brown and orange in the pre-dawn. Empty blue recycling bins with lids flung back, spent, yawn in order of the streetlights’ gusts. A curbside police roundup, lights come up a green aquatic; an all-night streetcar glides King headed west its aqua light a phosphorescent wash; blue bins tremble and murmur. MurmurNation.


dream the house where we lived, basement lowered, lofted ceiling and hidden rooms, adjoining catwalk to sections that I never knew existed, the gutted basement betrays a modernized touch, silent, empty and resolute. It is strange to be back, tinged with a kind of jealousy.


since yea high, have been drawn to empty abandoned spaces. haunted houses. spooky off-limits places, it was all my dad’s doing, forbade to ascend the mossy stairway slung hugging the far wall of the farmhouse in the field. bannisterless, it was forbidden, lest we step through a step: what then? or perhaps worser: step on a rusty nail. echoey places, places long-forgotten, a moth drawn to neglect. in dreams, alone in the still haunted house, I ascend the creaking staircase slung hove up against a far wall, dilapidated and spelling sure ruination, bidden not to go. rooms forbidden hold out promise of the numinous.

dilapidated and spelling sure ruination

I figure out a way to get into the Laird lair, this massive underground catacomb of singing acoustic over in Leaside, hidden in plain sight where soulless Big Box stores now sit. Once down the dripping stairs, here and there shallow standing water reflects odd snow cones -- fading daylight steals in, oblique -- the hidden space alive, it awakens, re-sounding my opening notes; suspended in time, and I vanish, lost in its decay. Syrinx, a forest of sound. The world distilled to this essence of receding sound, fading light far above.


dream that the small attic croft, a hidden treasure I had long forgotten, was accessed by three or four obscured stairs off an upper hallway, easy to miss tucked up against the far wall. clambering up off in a neglected corner, pushing through I am in, the hidden space low-ceilinged, spartan and brimming with portent potential.


We visited Tower Automotive on several occasions, the last time to conduct an interview about urban exploration on a pirate radio station long since vanished from the airwaves. I get turned around on the stairs, peeling green paint crumbles to the touch I still here there hear their voices distant as a panic arises


The abandoned ballroom of the historic King Eddy, a vast open 2-story space perched atop the 14th floor. i visit alone scoping, marveling at the destitute columns and dust. later, with new friends as audience and a CBC sleuth reporter in the mix, i and my trio rent a modest room several floors below, drink grey goose to bolster courage. plates of cheese, crackers. together, giggling silently, we ascend the dusty, graffitied south stairwell; and scattered about the speaking dance floor, shadows all, we take turns with solos and duets. mid-way through the second movement of a Bach trio, the static sound of a walkie-talkie. our Allegro Moderato comes unglued and stops as walkie-talkie static draws ever closer, taking forever to appear from a far corner of the ballroom. The poor guy is seriously outnumbered; however, to our dismay, after cajoling and the offer of a private recital which we begin to demonstrate -- yes, unfortunately, although outnumbered, he has back-up at the other end of his walkie-talkie. so we retreat, returning to our rented room, reconvening to pick at grapes and whats-left of the cheese. shots of Grey Goose to salute our success. 


Its weird the new place, taking my shoes off, remembering where the short stairs are in the dark. Feeling for the first and last step in sock-feet. I can’t see. Outcroppings of narrow white cupboards and open white shelves in outline only, black on grey upon grey against black, tower above where I peer as high as the moon small in the skylight. Scudding clouds diffuse a spectral, haloed, waning lunar light. Somewhere, forgotten streetlights blind me from below. Not a glimpse of lake, the view now all condoized. It’s a second-floor walk-up over a quiet italian resto, phantom smells from the kitchen linger long after closing. our front entrance enters off the Italian eatery vestibule, where the thermostat is located; adjusting the heat that first night, peering at the small yet again clever compact display face, i catch a glimpse of a seated customer. What’s good on the menu in the Italian eatery we live above in the dark now. Treading the endless stairs in sock-feet, up towards the moon in the new, impossibly high skylight all white i suddenly don’t know if I’m walking slowly carefully upward front- or back-ward -- a horizontal vertigo -- still walking i savour the newness of the dark stairwell, whether it goes front to back or not. “The main entrance is off the back deck. That’s what we use most of the time anyways.” A kind of depth dyslexia if you will.

Unmarked Door
Unmarked Door
Unmarked Door
Return to Foyer
the moon soars tiny sliding past the plants
Collapsed barn, Algoma
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