words crossed the top of the pocket note book page.
"tonight i will write the beginning of a story for you."
and so begins the tale of john williamston, a character created on the spot. no forethought. no scientific study. no days and nights mulling. just a simple name to start. john williamston. a study about a random morning in the year of 1925.
the sun was out which of course was not the norm that month of december. december had never known such sunshine. minnesota had a reputation for the icy cold. minnesota had a way of putting the so-called tough in their places, a junk yard guard dog to appear soft enough to get momentary praise from a strange passerby.
john williamston was frail. in 1925 john was twelve years of age. he was a lonely child who kept his room in top condition. john liked to keep a certain order, a type of order only an expert model airplane maker could understand. john wasn't an expert with the exception of maybe being himself.
john was born to parents of a failed farm. a farm which stood on the other side of the atlantic, a once plentiful place which made hard work, the work of laboring hands, lead oneself to a life of necessary purpose.
on the sixth floor, alley side, the simple flat hovered as if to collapse with next rainfall or minor car accident in the tight alley below.
john found a bag of seed one morning under a mattress in the corner flat on the eighth floor abandoned by an elderly woman who spoke to herself incessantly. she was thin. unlit cigarettes dangled from her thin lips. when she recited poems from an old book john would see her discolored and intensely rotten teeth the two front of which were broken and jagged. at night john would lie on his cot and peer out a window into to the sky above where the steam rose, the grounds of the alley below, dripping water from the sink in the corner and listen to the old woman's ravings echo. the words most of which he knew not a single meaning of. sometimes she spoke in what he imagined to be french. john loved the old woman's voice and knew how she was feeling. he wondered what her cats were doing as she spoke aloud and threw hard objects around the room.
starting well over a year ago john often woke during the night. upon waking he would step out the window and descend to the alley street below. in his night-shirt and barefooted john would take to the street front and "window shop" as he'd heard it was called on the corner of burgundy street. his favorite stop was a hardware shop. in the window behind small signs he could spy on a collection of mechanical wind-up toys of an antiquated type. near these mechanized gadgets was a cradle stuffed with plastic or wooden headed, haunted hallowed eyed, frayed hair, joined finger and toe, hard and cold, detached dolls. the dolls sent chills up his spine. john would only glance at them and then turn around to look behind himself the act of which he would always fight not to do but like all involuntary bodily acts could not help. it's just like blinking or breathing he thought to himself. dolls like those in the heap would always give him a sense, an eerie sensation that something or someone was standing right in back of him.