The homeless man staggered into the abandoned house, the sole private home on this barren block in the ghetto. Inside, he discovered only dead, ancient remains and corpses at every stage of decomposition. The smell of death, a toxic, suffocative odor, assaulted him. Yet he did not retreat or rush off. He collapsed on a tattered mattress. He stuffed his nose with dirty tissues to kill some of the foul odor, and fell asleep. Later, he’d explore the house.
Yesterday, he lived in a subterranean universe 10 stories below street level.
Now, he stumbled into a dilapidated house of darkness. Black curtains covered all the windows. Black shrouds concealed all the mirrors.
The 1st 3 days passed slowly, for the dark house was an oven, a seething container of unbearable heat in August. He remained on the first floor, depleted and enervated from the swirling temperature. “A crematorium,” he muttered.
On the 4th day, he descended the stairs to the basement. He lay in pitch-black darkness on a wooden floor.
On the 7th day, he danced with a decomposing corpse in the dimly lit attic, illuminated by a burning candle. When he sat down, he noticed the covered mirrors. He hugged the dead thing, kissed the shattered skull, held its skeletal hands, and whispered sweet nothings to the nonbeing.
On the 13th day, he snatched a mammoth rat, crushed it with his hand, skewered and roasted it, and ate it for lunch and supper. He licked his thin lips.
On the 100th day, he clambered up and down the stairs, wandered through the corridors and rooms and discovered an endless array of covered mirrors.
On the 1000th day, he unveiled a gilded mirror without gazing into its glass universe.
In the 1000th year, he uncovered an infinite mirror and peered into its gargantuan galaxy.
In the 999th year, he forgot what he saw when he looked into the infinite mirror.
On the 6th day, he removed the severed parts of a frozen corpse from a broken refrigerator sitting in a seething bathtub, and carried the parts to a secret room he couldn’t find. He sat in a rocking chair, held a cold decapitated head in his arms, rocked the head back and forth and kissed its thick, voluptuous lips. Periodically, he stopped kissing the deliciously full lips and sang lullabies.
Yesterday, he gazed at an infinite mirror, climbed inside, and emerged from the Abyss. Lost, he wandered for hours or days, or perhaps, years. He discovered an abandoned house. When he entered the pitch-black darkness of this sinister place, he lit a match and looked at the covered mirrors.
“The House of Mirrors,” he muttered. “I’m home.”
Dr. Mel Waldman, a psychologist, is also a poet, writer, and artist. His stories have appeared in dozens of magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, ESPIONAGE, THE SAINT, and AUDIENCE. He is a past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature. He is the author of 10 books. I AM A JEW, his most recent book published by World Audience Publishers, is a collection of essays, memoir, short stories, poems, and plays about his exploration of his Jewish identity. He recently completed an experimental mystery novel inspired by Freud’s case studies.