Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Who Killed the Heartbreak Kid?"

By Mel Waldman

Looking back, I whisper to my dark past, speaking to the buried voices and faces lost in a sea of trauma. I speak softly because even momentary flashbacks will evoke unbearable pain.

I sit quietly on the Coney Island pier in Brooklyn. The snow is beginning to fall. A few flakes caress my face, vanishing into nothingness. But I feel the wetness, allowing the flakes to soothe me, before they disappear.

It is still dark, about an hour before dawn. I am alone on the pier. I do not hear any footsteps nearby or in the distance. There may be other humans on the boardwalk or beach, but I do not sense their presence. Sitting tall in a yoga position with my legs crossed, I listen to the sound of the sea. Slowly, I take three deep breaths. I let the ocean into my nostrils, inhaling its power.

And I am one with the sea. It is an old friend and an enemy too, evoking both beautiful and anguished memories, as gentle as my wife’s kiss on my forehead, or as fierce as a giant wave flooding my mind with the crushing blows of a never-ending downpour of toxic memory-shards.

In the latter case, I must rush away from this phantasmagoric storm, more brutal than the mighty white whale, or go mad, or die. And of course, there are many ways to die.

But now, the sea is just an old friend, I believe. It beckons me to find the center of my being. Breathing rhythmically, I enter a deep trance.

I am in an old gray house in Kennebunkport. The house is strangely familiar. But I have never been there before. Or have I? I search for my son Bobby. No one is home. Bobby is not here. I climb the stairs. Upstairs is my salvation. Why? I do not know. Yet I rush slowly up the staircase. A holy room is there above me, beyond. It waits. I am compelled to go.

Eventually, when I enter the room, I am alone with the darkness, unaware of any light. But I can see, although the eerie room is foggy. I am inside an ancient sailing ship, an infinite ghost ship whirling around in time and space. I believe I am alone. And when my eyes dart across this antediluvian beast, they discover nothing but an abandoned ship.

Then, as the ship whirls around again and again, I am seized with a bout of vertigo. Clinging to an old rusty pole, I struggle to maintain my balance. And at that tenuous moment, I smell ungodly scents. When I turn toward the foul odors, I see a tall, skeletal ghost rushing toward me with a gun pointed at my head.

I hear a distant voice scream: “Why?” It is mine. But I am far away, as the frenzied ghost beats me with its primitive gun, until the blood gushes from my skull and I fall into the abyss.

Death is near. Like the sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death on rocky coasts, Death calls me. The sirens, part bird and part woman, sing seductively and beckon me.

In the distance, I hear the long ululations, the howling sounds of a man being beaten to death. And my disembodied soul prays to G-d: “Dear G-d, let me die. Oh merciful G-d, release me from this unbearable suffering. Release me!"

Listening to my silent screams, I am catapulted from my trance. It is dawn and a gold sun is rising. And although the snow is still falling, it is a light and lazy snowfall, with snowflakes drifting slowly to earth. Perhaps, the flakes are instinctively aware that when they reach their destination, they will die.

Dr. Mel Waldman, of Brooklyn, New York, is a psychologist, poet, writer, artist, and singer/songwriter. His stories have appeared in numerous literary reviews and commercial magazines. His mystery novel, Who Killed the Heartbreak Kid?, can be purchased at,, or

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