Come Back!

“What’s that sound?”

A muffled, irregular, percussive rhythm – like a persistent yet barely dripping faucet, seemed to originate somewhere on the other side of the wall. Rather than the thin ping of a leaky tap, however, this was a thump… thump … thumping that, though faint,  came and went from the wall nearest to the bed.

I had two high quality rubber balls that I used for my spine.  Got them from my physical therapist and rolled around on the floor with them under my back.  They were the perfect combination of soft and hard; infinitely more comfortable and effective than the cheaper, denser substitutes I’d just purchased because – I couldn’t find my good ones.  I kept them in a basket under the nightstand, but they were gone. I Looked everywhere.

“Seriously – what IS that??”  I asked, a few days later.

My husband heard it, too.

“When the brothers were here they had some kind of business with a group of monks, or something,” he said.  “And the monks were looking after some kids, some boys.  I think the brothers gave them those balls to play with.”

The brothers had requested use of our apartment for a few days, not long before.  For what purpose I had no idea, but they were free-floating masters on a mission and if they needed our place, so be it.  It was understood that the monks and their fosterlings were.. not physical.  I could only imagine what kind of work the brothers were doing with a group of astral Benedictines, or whatever.

So they’d managed to transport my deceptively special and very physical, genuine rubber balls into another dimension, and now these kids (I envisioned some kind of bucolic, phantom 19th century Boys Town in sackcloth) were innocently playing catch against my wall from another plane.


Except A) The noise was kind of getting old, and B) Those were my good balls.

“They gave them my good balls?   Without asking?”

Seemed presumptuous, but I felt terrible asking for them back.  I figured I could make a trade, however.

“I’m so sorry!   But I need those rubber balls for my back!” I called out in the middle of my living room. “I have others here that are just as good for playing with; you can have those and keep them forever!!”

I apologized repeatedly and urged them to take the substitute balls, which I carefully placed in the center of the Persian rug in the middle of the room, before we went to sleep. The next morning I noticed that the pink rubber balls that had gone missing were now resting against the bookshelf.

The sound stopped.

But the other, seemingly identical balls that I’d put out for the boys the night before were still there. Several times I called out, begging the boys, or their monks, to come get them. I even bounced one against the wall myself several times, to demonstrate their excellent bouncability.

They never took them.   I was mortified.

I noticed, also, that my copy of the collected works of Theresa of Avila had been pulled out from its place on the shelf.

I’d purchased it from the Franciscan Bookstore on 34th St a few years earlier, when I was still acting.  I’d been cast in a production of Agnes of God and had catapulted headlong into a trance-like obsession with mystic nuns. One night, during early rehearsals, I recall walking down 13th St, when I tentatively allowed myself to acknowledge a desire that knocked on the trap door of my innermost heart: to manifest a stigmata. So utterly submerged was I in that other world that it didn’t occur to me in the slightest to examine such a thought (though I did experience a vague twinge of embarrassment, which I also did not examine.)  When a shooting star arched across the West Village skyline as if in response to my inner dialogue, however, embarrassment instantly gave way to a secret thrill.

I knew basically nothing about Theresa of Avila; was drawn to the book by an intense, instinctive impulse.  I took it home, read one or two pages at most, felt weird and never so much as looked at it again.

But when I saw those two rubber balls, which I now sorely regretted asking to be returned, nestled on the floor by the bookshelf, I noticed that book I’d purchased with such numinous anticipation years before was now sticking out, as if someone had begun to remove it, but stopped. I figured the monks were perusing my library and Theresa caught their eye.

But that was not the reason, entirely.

It would be a few years more, before I understood why.





Posted on May 20, 2015, in Excerpts and Expurgations. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Remarkable story!

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