I thought I saw him this week – impossible, I thought, but it was his spitting image.
Lanky lean C was standing there for a moment at a market stall, silver-haired and self-satisfied, leaning forward, selecting artichokes from a bin. Always looking ahead to a superior home-cooked dinner.
Of course it was just a man from the same gene pool and the same generation, wearing the same brilliant white handlebar mustache. A Spaniard or Sicilian, no doubt, of a certain age, a man of regal bearing, a man with exaggerated style.
He saw me looking and stared back from behind his sunglasses, which, like the mustache and the pressed green-striped dress shirt, were sunglasses which C might easily have worn.
That’s what did it. A visitation. It excited his ghost in me, and since then I can’t get him off my mind.
I walk into shops we visited together. I talk to him while driving. I bought calamari in ink to make his Spanish Black Rice.
I saw his last companion sitting at a sidewalk café in town this weekend on the new moon, and told myself that it was a sign.
My friend and I were at odds during our last visit, but that did not question the love underlying. It strikes me as strange, but I never felt guilt.
I never doubted him, and looked for better days that never came.
A few Skype calls and he was gone forever. The family, ardently Catholic in a less imaginative way than C had been, kept us from marking the grave, from knowing anything more.
Is that why his ghost is so sociable? Is he restless? Or was he inevitably going to be in death as he lived life, a man about town, only with better vision?
I turn the chunks of tentacles and ink into the rice and stir it a few times until the white becomes awash in grays and blues, as he taught me.
There are a hundred metaphors staring back at me from the pot, like the all-seeing eyes of Argus, each one wearing sunglasses and laughing.