I had just moved into an apartment on the fourth floor of an old apartment building in New York City. The previous day I had met one of the other tenants in the building, Dave Van de Wettering (an acquaintance whom I had recently met in Quebec City). Wettering was moving out of the building and he asked me if I would see to it that any mail which came for him would be forwarded to his new address.
After he departed, I went to the mailbox located inside the front door of the building on the side of a wall in the hallway. On the left of the mailbox were some slots for the mail. On the right was a large box-like area in which a recent batch of mail had just been placed. Quite a few people in the building were all receiving mail in one large space. I thought I might need to ask the landlord to install a separate mail box for me.
I looked around inside the box, where I found some pictures which I had cut out for collages. There must have been 100 different pictures which I gathered together. Finally I stuck my head in the box. I was worried my head might become stuck, but I thought surely I would be able to extract it if I were able to put it in there.
I found a letter for me in the box. Then I noticed several addressed to Wettering. I also saw a phone in the box which I promptly picked up and on which I called Wettering. I spoke with Wettering while I continued looking for my collage pictures.
I told Wettering I was going to send him the letters which I had found addressed to him. One of Wettering's letters was still in the envelope but I told him some of his letters had already been opened and were out of the envelopes. The letters (I could see) were hand-written on pieces of white lined paper. It looked as if someone had written something on one letter after it had been opened. Wettering became somewhat upset that the letters had been opened. Two of his letters were folded into very small squares. I picked them up and without reading them laid them to the side. One letter was still in the envelope. Wettering said he would come himself to get the letters. Realizing that the call was long distance and expensive, I finally told Wettering I had to go and I hung up.
While I was still looking in the box, a man (who I initially thought was my father) walked up behind me. He spoke and complained that somebody had torn down part of the building. I then saw that he wasn't my father but a man (about 35 years old) who looked like someone from the nineteenth century. He was slender, was dressed completely in black and had on a long black cape. I knew my father lived close by and I even thought my father owned the building in which I was living. I asked the man if he had already told my father about the wall being torn down and I asked if any part of his apartment had been torn down. He said one of the walls had been destroyed.
Wettering had also showed up. He and I walked outside and began looking at the building. It was an old, red, brick building in a very dilapidated condition. It almost looked as if it were ready to fall over. It was sitting on the corner of the street and had a sidewalk around it. We walked around behind the building and found that somebody (perhaps someone sent by city government) had torn down the building next to ours and in the process had torn down one of the walls to the man's apartment, on the ground floor.
Wettering and I walked through the space where the wall had been torn away and into the man's large apartment. The man was already inside. The apartment must have had six or seven rooms. The three rooms in the rear of the apartment were missing a wall, but it looked as if those three rooms hadn't been in use anyway. I mentioned to the man that he could have rented out those three rooms, but he didn't seem interested in doing that.
The man seemed quite dignified and respectable but quite mysterious at the same time. I wondered what he did in the rather somber-looking rooms. We walked on into the part of the apartment where the man apparently actually lived. I knew that Wettering's apartment had also been on the bottom floor on the other side of the man's apartment.
The apartment was clean but it was rather dark inside. The furniture and everything in the apartment was old as if from the last century. The place indeed seemed very strange. I commented that I felt like Alice in Wonderland there.
I pointed to some antique-looking doors and asked the man where they led. I thought they probably just went to a closet and he told me that they did just lead to a closet. He pointed to another door which he said went to Wettering's apartment; but it had been sealed shut.
Wettering walked up toward the front of the building. I heard something out back and walked into the back yard. I couldn't believe my eyes. There in the midst of what appeared to be a small garden was a man (probably in his mid 30s) whose body was orange from his head to his waist and who, at his waist, turned into a long, white, fuzzy snake. The bottom part was about three times as long as his upper part and resembled a stuffed animal. The snake man was singing.
I ran back into the house and told Wettering he just had to come and see this, but Wettering was busy with something else and I ran back alone to where the snake man was. I then ran back inside and again called Wettering again who finally came back to where I was. When he arrived, however, I saw that the man actually had legs instead of a snake body. He still looked strange, however, being orange from the head to the waist and then being white from the waist down. His legs still looked fuzzy like those of a stuffed animal.
Somehow a small fire suddenly broke out inside the apartment. Wettering panicked, but the man who lived there quickly put it out. Another small fire began and the man likewise put it out.
I then looked to where Wettering's apartment had been and saw that a larger fire had also broken out there. It appeared the building was definitely going to burn down. I remembered my father had recently told me that if a house catches on fire to simply get out and not worry about saving anything. But I thought I was going to have to differ with him this time.
I thought I would try to save as many of my things as I could and I quickly ran upstairs to my apartment. I ran around in my rather large apartment looking for a box to put my possessions in. I couldn't yet smell smoke but I knew it would become dangerous if I did begin to smell smoke. If the fire reached the stairwell which I had just ascended, it might be difficult to go back through it.
I finally saw a cardboard box in which I had put some garbage. I dumped the garbage out onto the floor. A can of green olives with red fillings rolled out and broke open. I raced around the apartment with the box and began filling it up. I put several small black cameras into the box. Actually I was unsure if they were several cameras or just one camera in several pieces. I then put my power-saw and my instamatic camera into the box.
The box was filling up rather quickly. I then remembered I had a large, clear, plexi-glass box in which I kept some things. I found the box, dumped some of the things out, sorted through them and put some of them back into the box. I then began trying to fill that box up.
I put a cassette player into the box. I thought I had recorded some dreams on a tape on the cassette player and I wanted to save them. Then I remembered the dreams which I had stored on computer disks and I ran to get the disks. I thought about my notebooks with typed-up dreams and I figured I would be able to throw them out the window without injuring them. It suddenly occurred to me that my IBM computer was also there and I didn't think I was going to be able to save it.
I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to carry the two boxes I already had. I began to smell a little smoke and knew I needed to get out of there as quickly as I could.
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