Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 6, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #86

How still was the gallery when I came upon Bertoiaʻs instrument, it was almost frightening.
The sound of the rods escapes from the caress of my hands and is reminiscent of the sonorous voices of Buddhist monks in a monastery.  My eyes close and my palms pray while the resonant tone fills the hall. I am overwhelmed with the realization of Bertoiaʻs secret, he has captured quantum entanglement, or perhaps the natural sound of the universe.

A lone patron tears her pamphlet in half and frays the edges. In both hands, she waves them in the air and around her body. An old woman and her husband move around the gallery, spinning, kicking, and leaping into the air. His aged frame lifts her to his shoulders, and they parade the exhibit as if performing for an audience that is seen only by them. A little boy unhands himself from his motherʻs grip and assumes a fetal position on the gallery floor. He is a ball wrapped tight within his own frame, his eyes are squeezed shut. With the next pass of my hand over the rods, his tiny body slowly unfolds, and his eyes come alive. His mouth is wide open, but there is no sound. His mother balances on her tippy toes with the shoulders thrown back and her arms out from her sides. Gently her knees bend in a plie' and her sweatered arms reach out. She gathers him fingertips first, then the hands, and finally, raising her frame upright and erect, she swaddles him in her arms. One more pass of my fingers over the rods and a curator who his briskly walking through the exhibit stops dead in his tracks. His eyes glaze over, and suddenly he looks over to his right, extending the point of his chin over his shoulder, casting his eyes down to an unknown point upon which he is focused. He cups his left hand just under his belt line with the elbow bent but extended. His right-hand swirls the air above his head, and with a snap of his left foot behind his right, he twirls. Slowly at first, hypnotically, mesmerizing until the spin builds momentum and becomes a furious blur.

Curiously, I grab the bouquet of rods, choking them to stop the sound. The arm-waving, the mimed ice skating, the ballet of re-birth, and the single momentum that made the curator blissfully happy as a little boy all come to a quiet conclusion. The museum members resume their silent patronage without so much as a clue as to the brief moment of bliss that possessed their countenance. Ah Bertoia, your rods are magic indeed.

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