The Tower Journal

Gianni Skaragas


Causal Relations of Simple Objects

          My father never had anxious thoughts to weigh upon his mind until a fish fell out of the sky over his head. He was walking through Astoria Park and as he opened his mouth to the rain and let it pour through his throat, he wondered if he had ever been so happy before. Then he wondered if his unbridled bliss had become so shapeless that it could vanish and he would mistake it for its memory.
          Thank you, God, for all that you have given me.
          Even as he said the words, he realized in a part of his mind how desperate he sounded. He was a man who struggled to keep himself anesthetized so he would put the past behind him. He chose happiness because he didn’t know what else to do with his life after his wife’s death.
          The green tiger barb was alive when it hit his head and slammed down convulsing with the unmet demand for air. The park was wrapped in a deep silence, and he breathlessly stared at the silvery coverlet of the early-morning New York Metropolitan sky as if he were waiting for an explanation, thinking that the world was filled with enough mysteries as it was. The wind rattled his scarf, and that was the only answer he got. He was not sure what worried him more: the normalcy around him or the thought that he needed an interpreter.
          It was early spring, hardly more than winter, and my father worked at Smart Buy on Shore Boulevard and 27th Street five days a week. He went to work, came home, kissed me on the part in my hair, walked me school and went to bed—I usually found him curled up on the sofa.
          My father had selected the occupation of a security guard as that in which his life should get better. He worked the night shift with the earnest hope that he would spend more time with his son and raise him without a mother.
          Each week seemed exactly like the last, and he did not want to know what would come later—not because he didn’t care about the future but because there was a ripple of doubt inside him that sometimes overflew and forced him to see himself in a new light. He was lonely. The feeling of isolation was so singular and unexpected that it could not be shared.
          Only my father would manage to save the dying fish. He would never stop telling me about the entire sequence of events, from the sandwich plastic bag he filled with river water to the moment he released the green tiger barb in a kitchen bowl and covered it with a net.
          “She wanted to live,” he said as if it were totally obvious.
          “She?”
          “The fish.”
          “How do you know it is a ‘she’?”
          He had always been that way, for as long as I could remember he was capable of doing things that seemed normal to other people but were anything but. He made the red flowers of our indoor plum-leaf azalea open before July and perfect their growth by humming a few bars of Greek folk songs to them every morning.
          Dogs followed him around on some inexplicable cue, and albino pigeons landed by his feet turning their heads toward him. I had never heard his footsteps on the creaking floorboard in our house. When the air bustled with the summer shrill of crickets, he changed his voice, and as it lapsed into very high, he produced the squeaky tone of an imaginary bird that gave them pause for a while. Such things happened.
          He had a pair of horse eyes that brightened as he smiled, the evenly distributed honey-colored playfulness fixed on you as if you were the only thought inside his mind. In his late thirties, his features were almost hypnotic and all women responded to his outsize charm in the same way: They looked him straight in the eyes as if he were the only available male in the world. They saw things that I did not see at the time—a suspicion of trouble, but a promise of pleasure, too.
          Each time I found a new friend in our house, I smiled and she smiled too, pretending we were in different dimensions. I got along with them, registered their presence and minded my business. Since I had no mother, some of them filled in as best they could. They asked me my name. They asked if they could call me Ari, short for Aristotle.
          “Your Dad is a good man,” said a woman in our bathroom as she put a thick layer of mascara on her top lashes. “His heart taught him all he needed to know of life.”
          I nodded as if what I always knew was true, was true.
          I might only be thirteen, but I could tell that my Dad looked like the exact kind of man they had been searching for their whole life. They loved his Greek-American accent. It could make them howl with laughter as easily as it sent shivers of pure sympathy down their spine. They felt sorry for him, not because he seemed pitiful, but because his smile exuded that loneliness you saw sometimes in stray dogs.
          Women cooked for him, entertained him, trying to get him to enjoy himself, advised him to throw off the past and stop hiding from love. They talked to him as to an ex lover. To sympathize with my Dad was like etching a heart and their names on a tree with the hope that maybe if they closed their eyes and fell asleep to him, they would be able to advance to fairyland. They loved my father the way they loved a secret world that ran along with their real life.
          Now everybody had a story about the fish. Some people said it was an alien life form and fell from a craft flying overhead on to the street below. Others said that it was probably sucked up by a tornado and released later during the rain. My Dad had no answer. He bought a solution to remove chlorine and add nutrients to the water. His life took on a new purpose. He wondered if there was something beyond what he understood, beyond life’s mysteries and laws that had brought this fish to him.
          The days went on and he grew so protective that he almost forgot me standing at the kitchen counter with him. He took care of his new friend, his attention abstracted from me. His face lifted into an expression of contentment as if he had never seen a fish so clearly—as if he had never seen things for what they really were. It wasn’t until after the second week that I ever considered the possibility that my father wanted to make the fish see him.
          “What are you doing, Dad?”
          “I wonder if she knows that she would be dead if I hadn’t saved her ass,” he said although still he didn’t look at me.
          That wasn’t insanity. He studied the fish the way he stared at the picture of his deceased wife on the bookshelf—disappointed but still somehow waiting for a response from her. It was a picture of my mother taken in their garden in Cherokee, Iowa showing a woman, half-turned to the camera, the deep angry frown line between her eyebrows contrasting with her comely face.
          “Do you miss her?” I said one night.
          He shrugged his shoulders. I tried to determine whether the penetration of my father’s eyes as he consulted the photograph from that day was because he chronicled the passage of his married life or he found it hard to reflect upon those years. I wondered if he had liked being married.
          That night, I dreamed of my hair falling out in clumps.
                                                             #
          At school, my fellow thirteen-year-olds hardly glanced at me. I didn’t want to meet anyone. I could feel something changing in and around me, but my loneliness was so absolute that I could almost thumb it like a frosted glass pebble.
          It was the kind of loneliness that pushed against my bladder like morning pee.
          There was a girl. We talked to each other, nodded at each other, shared jokes we didn’t particularly understand, hung out with each other. Not that we really liked each other, it was just that neither of us had better things to do. Eventually, one day, we were watching the clouds that hung above us, and she leaned forward and kissed me. It was a nervous kiss, only took a few moments, but every part of my body went stiff, and I could feel my heart beating in my ears.
          “I just wanted to make sure you’re alive,” she said.
          I nodded, my eyes fixed on the spaghetti straps on her slender arms. She never spoke to me again.
          The fish made my father famous for a time. A female reporter from the Long Island Gazette came to our house wanting to see the fish and ask him a few questions. She wanted to know everything first she said without a whiff of emotion—my Dad with his head down—and fixed her tightly drawn autumn maple-leaf blonde hair.
          He talked about his dead wife as if she were somewhere in the kitchen rummaging through the cupboards. In a way, talking about her made her absence less understandable. Whether he felt responsible or relieved I had no idea.
          At the end of the interview, he said, “There is a romantic part of me that believes love is like that fish. You think you have to reach the ocean’s darkest depth to find it, when all you had to do was gaze up at the sky.”
          After the article came out, my father became a star overnight. It was either his romantic part or just the fish that changed our life in ways we would never have imagined. People recognized him from the photo in the newspaper and stopped him on the street to talk to him. They wanted to shake his hand and take pictures of him. He acquired enough fame to attract more press coverage. His voicemail was filling up with invitations to appear on major radio shows across New York.
          “Do you think I help them lure big-spending advertisers?” he said.
          “Would it make any difference?”
          “It’s good to know that someone needs you.”
          But it was not until an appearance on television that his fame began to spread. While standing in front of the bedroom mirror, he tried to prepare for the interviews. He impersonated a man being ordinary. Staring in the mirror surprised him; when the mirror started gazing back at him, inscrutable and unforgiving, he realized something was wrong about him.
          We were constantly met by throngs of women who did all they could to get closer to my Dad and touch him. He looked so happy.
          “Just to start, do you mind telling me a bit about yourself?”
          My Dad blinked, and I saw the awkwardness register on his face. Though he wasn’t shy, he blinked as if to recover the power of speech. Simple straightforward answers seemed to be large for him, his tone defensive as if to give voice to the events of the past was a struggle.
          “You say you’re romantic. What do you mean by that, how would you define yourself as being romantic?”
          To answer their questions, even the first word, frightened him. Because I knew him, I understood that the permanent smile stretched across his face was evidence of his anxiety.
          “What do you hope for the future?”
          It was the anxiety of an immigrant whose unexpected fame had somehow raised him from the American Dream’s scenery. He saw publicity as a way to ascend to a state of self-respect. He was no more an irregular shape obstructing the view lumped in with the rest of the background. Nothing had ever come his way without a price, and my father was afraid someone would show up at any time to end the dream.
          I saw that all play out for my father. I heard his meticulous choice of words, an exactness that stirred in me an innate reaction, as to an augury.
          “My life has been a spirited blend of good intentions, misfortune and renewal. I lived in a small Greek island, fell in love with a tourist, came to America to be with her, and just when I thought I had made sense of my life, she was gone.”
          His life was a logline, oversimplified, if ambiguous, like him.
          He thought his interviewers required more than plain common sense and clear thinking. My father charged his language with the meticulous sincerity of an immigrant who needed to be liked, wanted to be approved. What he wanted was not just to be understood, but to assert the weight of his moth-eaten pride. If my Dad stepped into somebody’s house, his shoes would be shiny, his hair silky and back straight. Since he came into his dead wife’s country, his stomach ached from a visible effort to be like other people, sound like them as if he had a second-class citizen sign emblazoned on his square forehead and lowered his head to hide it. 
          I couldn’t help wondering whether my father was adorable or if the agony of his drawn-out difficulty to gain the green card had been a significant factor in his becoming the man who made everyone adore him. It didn’t matter. What mattered to me was that his sense of self-importance became a rock inside his head pulling him down. He didn’t want to respond to questions. He didn’t want to be with people. The fish had changed everything in his life, once again.
          “Maybe it’s a sign hinting at something,” said the stage manager in the makeup room.
          My father looked at him startled. “Like what?”
          “The possibility of something new.”
                                                                       #
          In the last lines of his letter, handwritten and delivered before his death, Howard Messange wrote to my Dad, Beware of the fish. His body was discovered three days later floating in the East River, at about 62nd Street, near the Rockefeller University. He suffered severe injuries, including broken bones and head trauma, and there were signs of intoxication.
          When a couple of police investigators showed up at our house, my father folded up the letter, put it back into the envelope and gave it to them, his face expressionless.
          “Were you friends?” the man asked.
          He squinted at us as if in an effort to read letters at the optometrist.
          “The first time we met, I thought he was a reporter doing a story on me. He wanted to talk to me about the fish.”
          “Did he threaten you?”
          “No. He came back again last week to warn me that I was in danger. I never saw him again.”
          “So, what do make of Mr. Messange’s obsession with you?”
          “What are you talking about?” 
          “He had a scrapbook with newspaper clippings and pictures of you.”
          Howard was what I had heard called a psychic, which was my father’s way to convey the man’s ability—and pleasure—to touch him and see all the things that might happen one day. There was a grace on him, the quiet efficiency of the troubled spirit. He saw bad things coming.
          “I will peek from behind the curtain of your mind,” Howard told him the day he dropped in on us.
          He took a step forward and held his hand out for his. Howard’s face held an expression of kindness, yet touched by the meaningful seriousness of a prophet. He wore his voice as lightly as a summer sweatshirt and my father believed him, not because he was too impressionable, but because he felt he was a fragile little thing in Howard’s hands.
          “Why did this have to happen to me?”
          “The fish chose you for something,” Howard said. “You know there is something going on with you. You’ve felt it your whole life. I have tapes filled with interviews with people like you—people who assume they have encountered God through unusual experiences.”
          “They assume?”
          He stroked my father’s face with the tips of his fingers, as you might the face of a child, and smiled with all his kindness. It was looks like this—Howard’s eyes blazing with thoughtful intensity—that toned his natural uneasiness down a bit.
          “You are thinking that the fish is the symbol of Christianity,” Howard said.
          “Well, the Greek word for it is ‘Icthys’. Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter. It means Jesus Christ Son of God Savior.” 
          “It doesn’t have to mean the same thing to all people at all times.”
          “What are you, some kind of semiologist?” he said biting his lower lip.
          “The image of fish in the pre-Christian world is the symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of sex. It represents the female reproductive organs.”
          My Dad waited patiently for him to continue, but Howard looked at him blandly.
          “If that’s true, why did the fish choose me?”
          “I don’t know that, not yet,” he said, barely moving his lips, “but I will find out.”
          “My sex life is great,” my father said with as much confidence as he could muster.
          He was surprised that he had allowed himself to say something like that to a stranger, but Howard struck him as a man who was there to focus his whole being on him. I couldn’t tell whether my father was threatened or pleased.
          Howard winked at me. He turned and walked away from us, approaching the door cautiously, as if he feared waking someone. With his back toward my father, he looked at me and said, “Are you sure you want to know? What if you don’t like the truth?”
          After his mysterious death, my Dad watched the street for signs that something awful was going to happen to him. He never told the police that Howard had lent some meaning to his life, the prospect of an explanation helping him to look at the world with better vision. He dreaded what he would see and wished he knew what to expect. Though he didn’t actually say it, when he realized that everything in his life was just as it had been before, he was disappointed.
          I found him lying speechless on his bed. He looked as if he were close to cry. I stood right there in front of him, but he stared at the fish, and the more he did, the more it made him seem like he was at death’s door. If I twitched so much as my lips, I was afraid the sound would kill him. He seemed to be saying goodbye to me.
          I was beginning to realize that a less ordinary life can become the core of an addled man’s misery. I understood that my father’s core was an indistinct mass of frustrated fantasies and stoicism suspended aimlessly in the air, a solid irascible entity filling his otherwise transparent thoughts, like the cloud of steam that floated out of the dishwasher.
          “Dad,” I said one day, acting determined, “we’ll have to eat something sometime.”
          My voice was full of something very like contempt. He gazed up at me and there I saw what I was feeling: helplessness.
          Within a few minutes, he appeared heavily in our softly-lit kitchen, looked at me in that fatherly way that always soothed me back to sleep after a bad dream, and kissed me. It was an impatient kiss, followed by a tight comforting embrace. It was the kind that made me feel entitled to his heart as well as every single particle of the mass in his core that remained unspoken.
          I smiled, because any immigrant’s son will tell you that when his Dad falls apart and tries to reassemble himself, he can stop the world and seek out for the courage to make himself strong and turn into the person his son needs him to be.
          An immigrant’s son will tell you that his Dad’s heart is a head-on collision between his past and present, the dream-filled distance between who he thought he could be and who he became.
          I smiled, and he smiled, too, because my Dad’s heart was like a fish that swam in the sky, saw the worst, but never lost sight of the beautiful.
          That night, it occurred to me that we were incurring danger by keeping the fish. I only cared that our life went back to normal, and was not about to let a little thing like a green tiger barb get in my way. After he left for work, I walked down Astoria Park towards the river.
          “Grow up,” I said to the fish as I released it back into the water.
                                                             #
          One afternoon in the early part of May, about a week after setting the fish free in the East River, I returned from school to find my mother alive. She looked almost exactly as she had in the family album photos. Her jeans were a bit too snug, her jacket a nondescript shade of olive green. She had shoulder-length unruly red hair, graying at the hairline. Her face was peaky, dotted with freckles, cheekbones were sharp.
          My eyes grew wide as I saw her standing alone outside our basement apartment and knock the ash off her cigarette. She stared at me blandly, but her hesitation gave away the fact that she was surprised at the sight of me.
          She moved over to me and studied my face.
          “I may be your mother,” she said. “Are you Aristotle?”
          There was a cautiousness in her words before she was a hundred percent sure I was her son.
          “You’re only thirteen? You look fourteen.”
          Something in her eyes said she couldn’t take rejection of any kind.
          “I am here to repair some of the shit that happened while I was gone.” She then put her arms around me and held on to me tightly as if it were important that I believe she meant it. “Now, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get in that car and come with me.”
          I nodded silently as I looked at the red Eagle Summit wagon. I opened the door and ducked into the car.
          “Don’t worry. You will be safe with me.”
          I could deduce by the tone of alarm in her voice that we were not going to find Dad and take him with us. I should have declined her offer, but then felt a rush of affection for this woman who pressed a folded twenty dollar bill into my palm and closed my fingers over it as if to emphasize her good intentions. 
          “I thought you were dead,” I said.
          “I thought that, too, honey. My passion for life gets me in trouble sometimes.”
          The court had defined my mother as mentally ill and committed her to the Cherokee mental health institute.
          “That’s what you get when you you’re a woman with an independent will and begin a change in this country,” she said.
          She was considered an immediate threat to me.
          “So, what you’re saying is that you tried to kill me,” I said.
          She snapped at me. “I am not a bad mother.” After a moment’s pause, a conciliating smile flickered on her lips. “If you only knew how long it took me to find you.”
          My mother wanted to talk about the past, and I was grateful I was sitting in the car with her. She strove to appear more comfortable than she was. She turned on the radio, her rough-looking hands shaking as she touched the steering wheel.
          “Where are we going, Mum?”
          “Chicago. It will be our first vacation together.”
          “Why are we going to Chicago?”
          “I am taking you to see something,” she said. She turned to me with a little smile. “I need to talk to you about your father. But it would require that you spend some time with me.
          It was either my rushing blood or just the sun beating down on me through the window, but my face burned hot. She swerved to avoid hitting a car and I asked her to slow down. She couldn’t hear me.
          Instead, she said, “There is not one person who ever loved your father that didn’t suffer in his perversely myopic mind for happiness,” she said. “No matter how much effort he puts into making you believe you are important in his life, his motives are selfish and malicious.”
          My Dad had broken up with her because he thought she deserved more. More what he never told her. He had destroyed her in three stages. First stage: he fell in love with my mother and followed her anywhere she went. Then he made her believe that two people could never be thrown more completely on each other for love. In the end, he convinced her that she belonged to him even before she met him.
          We fell silent for a moment.
          “Do you understand what this means?” She looked at me. “Your father is a demon.”
          I smiled before realizing she was serious. “Is that some kind of mental institute lingo?
          “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
                                                                   #
          I hated François Boucher. My mother bought tickets to the Art Institute of Chicago to show me an artwork of this French Rococo painter. We had driven 15 hours with a couple of fill-ups for gas and fast-food fixes to show me the Study of a Triton.
          It was a preparatory drawing designed for a part of a larger painting in which the Triton bore an uncanny resemblance to my father. The expression, not mean but alarmed, was ambiguous.
          The tan laid paper gave a dramatic sense of intimacy as if the slight tint registered a little more spontaneous self-revelation as it contrasted with the black and white chalk.
          “This artwork doesn’t prove that Dad is a demon.”
          My mother looked at me probably thinking that by seeing the drawing I had started to doubt.
          “Your father is the demon of the Sea.”
          “Mom, you don’t really believe this madness, do you?”
          “Can you explain how it is that he looks exactly like him?”
          I studied the Triton’s features, the strong nose and thin upper lip. His face, in profile, was a kind of parody to my father’s good looks. It was my Dad with a shaggy mop of longish hair and crazed bushy eyebrows.
          “Just because they look alike doesn’t mean Dad is a Triton.”
          “What about the fish?”
          I licked my dry lips and looked at her. “What do you know about the fish?”
          “Barbs don’t fall out of the sky, Ari,” she said, her forehead creasing. “You need to treat this as a sign. That’s what Howard was trying to make you understand. He wanted to warn you about your father.”
          “You knew Howard?”
          “I sent him to you.”
          My mother had met him in a halfway house. She tried to cut her wrist with a plastic spoon, and he stopped her. He released her hand and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. She fell in love with him the moment she noticed his dimples, and for a split second, she could see what he had looked like as a kid.
          “Howard recalled an angel in wreckage, and I didn’t have a single chance to survive. He taught me to keep a mental door closed on my despair.” After a moment’s pause, she lowered her gaze, adding, “He was obsessed with my breasts. I made him moan so easily. Each time he surrendered to his orgasm, he looked like a young boy who was discovering sex for the first time.”
          I blinked, faintly irritated by my mother’s attention to detail. She didn’t realize it was her son standing there with her. That was not the sort of information I wanted to elicit. I wondered what she had loved about my father—not certain of even that. 
          I didn’t know how anyone could fall in love with me.
          “We were meant to be together,” she said. “He was the messenger and I am a Nereid.”
          “You mean, as in sea nymph?”
          She nodded.
          “You really believe that?”
          She heaved a sigh while an expression of pain contracted her forehead as if her greatest wish were for me to believe her. My left arched eyebrow that I had inherited from her came down and I nodded. I remembered when my mother was a young woman collecting blue bonesets and kissing me, her breath on the nape of my neck.
          My nod meant so much to her that it frightened me. I would never know with greater certainty of a woman’s personal contentment than by the wrinkles bitten into my mother’s smiling face. For a while I didn’t care that she was insane. Her eyes became dreamy and I thought this was what it felt like to have and not have a mother at the same time, to love her and hate her, to be a sea deity and not, a teenager and man. There was a mother-shaped trench in my life that I had not examined for years. Sometimes, it expanded to eradicate my memory and other times surrounded me like a hand closing around empty space.
          “Your father killed Howard.”
          My reply was quick. “He did not.”
          “He was threatened. He was afraid you’d leave him if you ever found out the truth.”
          “Dad would never do that,” I said.
          She smiled wanly at this. “Listen to me, baby. You think because you love him you know who he is, but you don’t.”
          “He loved you.”
          “Your father walked away when I needed him the most,” she said in a tone of gentle chiding. “I was part of his plan.”
          “You mean for the green card?”
          “Don’t be silly. Tritons don’t need a green card. He needed me to give birth to his child.”
          Her sun glasses were slipping down her nose and she looked tired. She looked plain.
          “You said the fish was a sign. What kind of sign?”
          “He must return to the ocean. He is going to leave you, Ari, the day you’ll turn fourteen.”
          “You don’t know anything about us. You can’t just show up and say all these things.”
          “He took you away from me,” she said, her hands trembling skittishly. “You’re my baby. You are half-human like me.”
          She was the most hilarious person I had met, and the saddest, and she would never know I loved her for being either.
          “Why did you come, Mom? You want us to live together?”
          She was mortified by the question, blinked as if taking in the sight of me. My mother needed help to come to the bottom of this mystery that loomed before her, a son who asked her the most addle-brained questions. What did he want from her?
          “I didn’t think of it like that,” she said.
          In the hour until we left, she said nothing. She took me out to eat at a boisterous diner with checkered floors and sturdy dark chocolate rubber wood tables on LaSalle Street.
          “I am a terrible cook,” she said.
          She tapped her fingers on the red chili flakes shaker and looked at me. The stained glass window gave a cold blue tint to her face. It seemed to me that every time she wanted to open her mouth, she wondered whether she was mistaken and I was not her son.
          She squeezed my leg. “I wish things could be like they were. I really do. You believe me, right?”
          The screen on my cell phone showed there was a new text message from my father. I took it in my hand and for the first time, she seemed to wonder if I had used it.
          “Let’s go home,” I said after a long hesitation. “We will work something out.”
          She didn’t take my suggestion as heartily as I had hoped.
          “I can’t do it, honey. Your father hates me.”
          “He knows I’m here with you. He didn’t call the police.”
          Tears welled up in her eyes and she almost sobbed. She turned her face to the window, her shoulders hunched forward. I knew in a way that could not be explained that my mother longed to offer herself to someone, but after a while, her emotions didn’t give her much to work with. Everything loved and familiar to her life became threatening. It was my mother’s response to love, a performance for which she had no talent.
          Then, a curious thing happened. She started to breathe hard and drip with sweat.
          “Are you feeling all right?”
          “These damn scales.” She gave me a warm smile. “I’m turning into a mermaid again, baby. I have to run.”
          I said quickly, “Don’t leave me, Mom.”
          But she left me anyway.
          I have remembered my mother many times, her eyes mirthless, frozen in a state of confusion, suddenly realizing she was responsible for me. Sometimes I wished she had never found me. Over time, the very mention of her name made me feel worthless. My love for her did that to me. It was edged in defeat. It had been easier to accept her absence thinking she was dead. You can’t expect dead people to choose you from the whole world.
          I chose to believe that she was not capable of love. Or maybe thirteen is just the age when you start to believe that your mother is a Nereid and your father is a Triton—when you can honestly claim that you are not another mortal with ordinary aspirations.
          Sometimes when I replayed events from my adolescence in my mind, it was hard to tell whether I used the facts or invented my own. I think I killed Howard. I didn’t really want him to die. It seemed like the only way to stop hearing his breath as he tapped my bottom and put a finger to his lips for hush. I wanted to wipe the conviction off his deranged smile when he said he was going to tell the whole world about my father’s dark secret.
          When I talk about my parents, I think of the first moments of a rotating magic lamp, when the cylinder starts to spin and the images project on the rice paper screen. People smile because they think my childhood was spectacular. I smile because I mean it was different on the outside, compared to the inside. My father’s love for me was explained in terms of the causal relations of simple objects. He had put a bulb and a vent in my soul. Sometimes, I used the bulb to create hot air currents that rose upward going through the vent and pushed the cylinder. Other times, I didn’t care about the mechanism, but used it to trump darkness.
          I smile because life with my father was like a haunted ship anchored to dreams that almost came alive and became a secret world of pearls of silver shining against the walls. Sometimes they resembled Tritons and Nereids in the depth of the ocean, and other times a fish on the air.
                   


Copyright © 2014 Gianni Skaragas

Gianni SkaragasGianni Skaragas gave up his legal studies to earn his BA in Theatre and Performing Arts. He writes in both English and his native tongue. He is the author of four novels in Greece. His short fiction has previously appeared in World Literature Today, Midnight Circus, Crannóg, Story Shack, and elsewhere. His play, Prime Numbers, premiered off-Broadway in New York in 2009. He has spent the past 15 years writing for Greek television, cinema and theatre. He is a Fulbright Fellow and the recipient of the Ledig-Rowohlt Foundation and University of Iowa IWP residencies..
                   

The Tower Journal
Fall/Winter 2014