I heard a light tapping on my window. I saw a gloved hand creeping along the side of it, then a full figure slowly emerge as it leaned sideways, asking me to let him in. He was wearing a bright blue suit, with a matching fedora and a domino mask over his face.
I opened the window and he climbed in.
"Thank you," he said, and removed his hat to wipe the sweat off his bald head."I never feel too old for climbing. Anyway, The Man left your address on this matchbook I scooped up."
"You're the Christmas spirit of the past?"
"Yeah, - The Christmas Spirit. How are you?"
"I'm fine. You look familiar. Have I seen you in the movies?"
He leaned forward. "You didn't see me in any movie."
"Fine. Where are we going?"
He walked to the window that had the fire escape. "Fire escapes are not my style. I prefer using my hands and feet and grabbing a hold to get where I'm going, but not when I'm a guest. We're going down - back to where it all started."
We climbed out the window and onto the fire escape, where the spirit led the way down to the ladder leading to the street. Just when it looked like we were about to climb off it, the spirit stopped me.
"Right here. This is the right spot to look in on the action."
What used to be a laundromat on the ground level had now become a store with a sign that read USED BOOKS. In that short walk I had been transported to another time and place.
I looked in on the action. a few people were lined at the register buying some old hardcovers and paperbacks. At a far corner, I could see two teenagers digging through some long boxes.
"This is the germ of the idea for the comic book store. Old copies of comic books were sold in used bookstores. This activity did not go unnoticed, as publishers were interested in new venues beyond newsstands."
"Wow! Tell me more."
"No. Less is more. Now follow me. Take this."
He instructed me to tie rope around my waist using carabiner rings as he did to his waist. We hopped off the fire escape and climbed the wall of the building two stories and stopped as comfortably as you could imagine on a window ledge. He pointed at a wide window. We were again transported to another place.
"Look. In twenty years time, comic shops are everywhere. This is the back room of one store. It's crammed with overstock."
"What happened? Nobody's buying comics?"
"They are - but not enough to match the number of copies being printed. The supply has outweighed the demand, and this store is about to be closed. Some of the stores facing this problem will survive, but only because their owners own the building."
"This is silly - you would think they would know not to buy too much of an item that's not in demand."
"Remember - comics were seen as an investment. Their ambitions and hasty decision-making was no different from yours - you all fashioned these memories yourselves."
"Wasn't there anything you could've done to change these events from happening?'
"Nah - I never faired too well in the shops. I fared better on the streets, in the papers. That bailiwick was my section."
He smiled at me and tipped his hat as he and everything around me fell out of focus...
To be continued...