What is This?

About six months ago, the tunnel courier delivered to me a series of "comedies" written by Ephraim P. Noble from 1968-1974. Maybe there is an older meaning to the word "comedies" that I'm not familiar with, because they seem nothing like comedies to me. In any case, I have scanned the covers of each of these very short stories, and hope to post them here on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Schwarzes Meer

"Schwarzes Meer"

In July of the tornadic summer that was 1970, I fell in love with the librarian, Lisa, whose skirts were felonious. She spoke a far Eastern language unknown to me, and struggled over each consonant, each vowel. In my apartment, her presence burst water pipes, confounded refrigerator compressors, spread spider-web cracks across my windows.

In those days, I lived on the 7th floor of the Black Oak Apartment Collective, and Lisa, in her paranoia, would sneak in through the old boiler room, up the unused back stairs, twisted and canted at weird expressionistic angles like some discarded set from Metropolis, and enter my apartment through the trap-door on the kitchen floor that I had made sure to keep clear since her arrivals.

At 2:00 or 3:00 am, each morning, she crawled across my floor and to my bed, and our revolution surpassed anything by the greasy hippies on the street, whose eyes, until recently, forever darted to this-and-that leader. This was July.

In August Lisa disappeared. The Penn State campus had been overtaken by the radicals, and I could hardly make it across campus to my office on the third floor of the Burrowes Building, where the other English professors cowered, living off food from the candy machines. Their own weird sort of commune. I disguised myself as a hippy and made my way through their mud encampments, their ideological traps, their false gurus, their teepees, up to Pattee Library, where Lisa had worked, over the flaming barricades at the front steps, to the circulation desk which had been repositioned to the top floor, guarded by the ROTC boys.

I asked for Lisa. “Are you the one who calls himself Ephraim P. Noble?” came the response from the slender librarian, who was obviously also disguised as a hippy, with a fake wig and a cheap peace symbol bubblegum watch. I nodded and was handed a yellowed envelope. Inside, a thin piece of paper, with the words “Schwarzes Meer” scrawled in her handwriting, as if written in desperation, at the last possible moment.

Schwarzes Meer?

It was only many years later, after it was too late for both of us, that I understood that this was an invitation, a plea really, and that near the banks of a deep blue lake, far away, Lisa had found a new way, a third way. I have no doubt that she wanted me to join her, to be with her.

But in truth, I only would have been an intruder.