BAS Fiction– Them SpaceCrafts: Part Two
THEM SPACECRAFTS: Part 2
by Devin Holt
Missed Part One? Read it here.
I figured it out in the middle of the night: I had to go to that creepy, crumbling warehouse next door. Somehow, it would help me get Papi to come home from the fires. That’s what Mom, or ghost Mom or whatever, was talking about on the bus. When she said, “Where Andrew first da–” she was trying to say danced, or dated, or something like that. And Papi always loved that warehouse.
I tied my hair, slipped on my Vans, and set my phone to airplane. Thankfully, I had my door open from the heatwave, so it didn’t squeak as I crept out. Aunt Tina was slumped on the couch, snoring hard to the jazz station. I went right out the door. She didn’t even twitch.
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The warehouse had a 12-foot, chain-link fence around it with hella no trespassing signs. I found a gap and slipped through no problem. The building was two stories, and covered with tags, murals, graffiti, and a huge, messy sculpture made out of burnt stuffed animals. It was colder on that side of the fence, though, like someone turned up the air conditioner in a movie theater. My arms had goosebumps. It was quiet over there, too. Like too quiet. No breeze, no homeless people around, just complete and total stillness.
The door was boarded over. I gave it a little push — the wood was rough, like something that would leave splinters — and the door creaked open. The space was even colder inside. I could see my breath in the small patches of street light that came in through the windows. I walked through slow, passing from a smaller, trashed front room that was all tagged up, into a huge, empty warehouse. It looked like an abandoned hip-hop circus: trapezes, ropes, and curtains hung from the ceiling, a smashed wooden stage had been tossed nilly-willy across the floor, which was littered with spray cans and moldy paint rags.
The voice froze me. It was like a long, raspy whine. I looked around but couldn’t see nobody. My heartbeat thumped in my ears.
“Who is that!”
The voice had a harsh, demanding tone. It sounded like it was coming from upstairs, near one of the two, wood-beamed lofts in the rafters. I took a slow step back. I figured if he was upstairs, I could still get to the door first.
“C’mon now, kid,” the man said. “You can’t hide in here. Look around. It’s a goddamn disaster! I could be anywhere.”
Now the voice was behind me, coming from a round, green bathroom.
“Nobody knows this building like me. I’ve run wires in every corner, crawled up every crack.”
I moved away, but that just took me deeper in the warehouse. My head bumped into a rope hanging from the ceiling and I jumped, then my phone fell out of my pocket. I picked it up and tried to flip off airplane mode but my hands were shaking too hard.
“Oh my god, phones,” the voice yelled, back upstairs now. “The world’s in front of your face, kid, not your phone!”
I was on the first step of a sprint when I heard the other voice. It was friendlier, with a high-pitched muffle, kind of like a stoned muppet.
“Easy there, A,” it said. “We don’t need to scare her. This is Biscotti, the girl who’s coming to visit.”
The two voices came out of the shadows. One of them was an old, thin dude with white hair, brown skin, and chipped teeth. The other was a squat, dumpy, two-foot green thing with orange dreadlocks and a brown cape. He looked like a mashup of Ms. Piggy, Yoda, and one of those homeless white boys on Haight Street. The human looking one — A — leaned against the rail in the loft. The green man stood on the rail, which put both their heads at the same height.
“A’s just grumpy, not dangerous,” the green man said.
A nodded: “C’mon up here, kid.”
“I think I’m good on that,” I said.
The green man raised one of his hands, or whatever those things were: “Here, let me show you the space.”
The room filled with a thin layer of orange light. It covered the wreckage with translucent images of the building crowded with people, eating around 10 or 15 tables. The people were mostly white, and looked pretty hippy, but I saw a Mexican woman across the room. She had a basket and a pair of tongs. She paused at a table, said something — I think it was “Tres Leches” — and set a cake down. A white lady, with eyes bluer than a surfer, reached out and squeezed her arm.
Cake lady looked familiar. I squinted hard: it was Aunt Tina. I knew it. I had been to one of these dinners. Mom and Papi brought me, when I was just a little kid. I searched the room, and tried to remember where we sat, but the whole image disappeared. The velvet curtains faded, the voices died. The warehouse was cold, dark, and hella trashed again. Just me, the green man, and A. I ran upstairs to the loft.
“Can you make it come back?” I said. “My Mom was there. I was there.”
A shook his head and crossed his arms. The green man looked at the floor.
“He can’t bring it back,” A said. “No one can. That’s what happens when you’re gone. Just images, flickers, that’s all.”
“But I was there.”
“I know,” the green man said. “We’re like old friends.”
“Well, can I see it again? Just for a second.”
The green man looked out over the space. His lips pursed for a few seconds, like he was lost in thought.
“We should talk about things we can save,” he said.
“You mean Papi?”
A grunted: “White dude named Papi. You gotta be kidding.”
The green man turned to look at me.
“Yes,” he said.
“It’s like this, kid,” A said. “You’re gonna draw something.”
The green man reached into his robe and pulled out a six-inch marker encased in metal, the kind serious taggers use.
“And that thing you draw,” A continued, “is going to tell you something about something that means something else that tells you about whatever you need to do to save so-and-so, who really should go by Andrew instead of Papi, but whatever.”
“Just take the marker,” the green man said. “You’ll figure it out.”
“How to save Papi from the fire, you mean? With a marker?”
“Either that or burn up,” A said.
The green man looked at A and sighed.
“The best chance to try,” he said. “But it’s better if you don’t go alone. Take a friend.”
“But. How. That. Doesn’t make sense. What do I do?”
A scoffed: “Ha! It’s a magic marker, get it?”
I didn’t get it, but I took the marker. The metal casing was even colder than the room. My fingers stuck to it, like an ice cube straight from the freezer. The marker was thick, but had no logo, and a fat, green cap. I stuffed it deep in my pocket, next to my phone.
“But what about that dinner?” I said. “I saw Aunt Tina there. And I know Mom must have been there too. I want to see her.”
The green man sighed and rubbed one of his dreadlocks.
“I could watch these flickers all night,” he said. “But not now. We’ve wandered out too far already.”
“Fuck that,” I said. “If Mom is here I want to talk to her.”
A lit a cigarette and took a long puff. He was starting to fade now. Both of them were. I could see past them, like Mom on the bus.
“Sorry, kid, but we live with different rules,” A said. “It’s not simple, like A goes straight to B. Just take the marker.”
So that’s what I did. I took the marker, went outside, and slipped through the fence. The world was normal again on the other side: it was hot, cars passed, birds did bird things. I walked right past Aunt Tina — still snoring, hella hard — and set the marker on my desk. I took a photo and texted it to Damone: “U seen this type?” Then I got really, really sleepy and laid down. I felt drained, like that strange, alternate universe thing at the warehouse had sucked all my energy out.
It felt like five minutes, but it must have been hours, because the light blared when Aunt Tina woke me up. She was pissed, yelling my real name, “Reyna! Reyna! What the fuck?”
Aunt Tina pointed at my door. Someone had painted a huge, elaborate green map that covered the door and two chunks of wall. It had street names, rivers, highways, everything. In the middle, in a section labeled Santa Rosa, was a drawing of a single, high-topped shoe, with the words “SpaceCraft Sneakers.”
I grabbed my phone, rushed to the bathroom, and locked the door. Aunt Tina’s voice came through muffled. She was still pissed: “I ain’t trying to let y’all lose my lease. You and Andrew is family but this just can’t…”
I checked my messages. Damone had texted me back: “Naw, why?”
“Tell you at school,” I wrote. “Hook up wit me at lunch. Got a line on dem spacecrafts.”
***Stay tuned for the final chapter next week!***
Devin Holt has been a lot of things: A wayward street-corner youth, a circus performer, and a farm boy loading firewood into the family pick up truck. Now, he writes.