Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Door Plate

One morning, the door number had been polished and replaced, though I heard no one working in the hall. Perhaps someone else passed this way on the stairs,

leaving a crooked calling card.

What Remains

I took some photographs this afternoon of the night watchman's route. He would have walked down the cast iron staircase

(underneath it looks like this)

brushing the top of the banister in the half-darkness.

Perhaps he would have turned up the gas jet that sat in this fixture

and clocked in at the box on the landing.

When I took a picture of where the box had been, I caught this instead:

I checked the flash. I focused and re-focused, zoomed in and out.

Is someone still looking after us in the dark?

What Has Vanished

Our building is 100 years old this year. Much has remained the same but the night watchman is gone.

When I moved here in 1978, his ghost was still on duty. On our landing was the call box where he checked in. The heavy brass key turned and clunked as he logged his time. Next he turned off the gas jet on the second floor landing. He straightened the air raid shelter sign when he remembered. He walked down to the first floor, then the basement, making sure everything was secure.

Sometime in the mid 1980s, the ghost was gone. The gas jet was clipped off and capped. The call box was removed, and the banister shaved clean. The chain that held the key was gone. Some job security!