21 July, 2008

Crab Meat (Greek Girl)

When I was living on rice and soy milk, I saw something in the mirror. When you live alone, and you see something in the mirror, you’re liable to worry.

My parents were in Hawaii when they heard the story. I couldn’t go; too much schoolwork to catch up on, they said. Elissa, the Greek girl from up on Winchester, came and took care of me. She liked aubergine, crab fishing and Monopoly. My parents asked her not to look at any personal information that might be posted, but to answer any social calls. Elissa taught me a lot of things. How to date a girl, how to drive a car. When my parents got back though, money was no object to her. Neither was free use of my parents’ car. She’d taught herself that. Her friends didn’t see her much afterwards.

I’d never heard the term, but I knew how to tell a good ghost story. I used to tell girls that I liked ghost stories, because I could always scare them. They used to bunch their knees to their chests and shiver.

Bob Krauss reported the story in the Honolulu Advertiser. I always started with this line. She was in the drive-in restroom, combing her hair. When the girl went over to her, she turned. What she saw caused the girl to have a nervous breakdown.

My parents told me the story when they found a copy of The Turn of the Screw in my bookshelf. I stole it from my school but kept finding it lying around my house. It usually happened after we’d eaten crab meat.

She called the station and they all took notice. She’d had a nervous breakdown after all. She supplied more details. Height, clothing. Her hair was red. They had to get her off the air after she repeated that the fourth time.

I’ve never finished that story. I’ve never needed to. They always want to get out of the car before they hear the ending. Noppera-bō. It sounds nothing like crab meat, but that’s all I can ever think of when I think of that word.

In August 1981, I heard that interview. My parents had just come back from the funeral. Most of Winchester Street turned out.

When she turned, she had no face. Noppera-bō. Whenever I smell crab meat, I know why I took that book back.

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