It was a revelation, seeing Maya sitting in the booth at the all-night Cafe. She was alone, and looked as if death shared a bed with her. Frailty had taken her prisoner. She didn't smile when she saw me approach her. Maya looked like she was in another world. Her body was shaking slightly, and at first I thought maybe she was drunk. Now I know better.
“Oh. Kevin. Your here, I see,” She barely opened her mouth to speak. She had tried to fix her hair, one side held up with bobby pins, the other side left hanging down past her hazel eyes.
“I'm the one who is suppose to say, strange seeing you here. I heard you were in Haiti.”
She giggled slightly. “Only in spirit.” Maya's smile came and went quickly.
Maya was a gifted filmmaker and dance choreographer. I was the one the local New york filmmakers called to set up college tours and place their films in movie theaters. I also knew a lot of money men.
“You really don't look well,” I told her.
“Do you think we could get out of here?” Her eyes seemed to dim slightly. I couldn't help but fall into the chasm of those big dark eyes once she adjusted and a Cheshire cat grin came across her face.
I shrugged. “I suppose so. Where do you want to go?”
It took her a minute to speak. She was gathering her thoughts. “ Brian... I want to take you to the Gauntlet theater. I would like to show you my new dance interpretation....of life and death.. and how the two could be resurrected.”
I felt uneasy. No matter, I flashed a smile. “Of course,” I put out my hand for her to take, she ignored it. She rose to her feet and haphazardly walked to door of the cafe. I wasn't even sure anyone was still at the Gauntlet except the janitor. It was a little after midnight and the last show of the night was over at ten thirty.
In the cab ride to the Gauntlet, Maya told me about her time in Haiti. She spent three years there filming ritual Voodon dances. How she came face to face with H'Gonn, the God of death. How she saw him take a young girl's life force and she died on the spot. One week later she was walking around the village handing out black roses to those she deemed would die soon. Within a the village fell into a flu that claimed 25 victims, all of which received black roses from the young girl.
She went on to describe H'Gonn with blue -gray skin and a face scaly snakes make up his features. When she spoke of the god of death, it was as if she were in love with him, an unnatural obsession. He was also a master of the dance that could hypnotize and feed off your waking dream.
I wasn't sure I wanted to do this. The building was locked and only minutes later did I see the janitor. I really felt uneasy standing outside in the cold dark night with someone whom I thought I knew. Maya had seemed to not be all there. She was once very lively, talkative, used her hands a lot. Now, she spoke softly, slowly, and so many spaces of silence in between sentences.
She urged me to call to the janitor. I was able to get his attention. To my astonishment, he remembered me from other shows I had been to. He let us in with much excitement.
“We need to use the stage, would that be okay?”
The old black man laughed. “Of course. I'm just happy to see anybody.” He went on to explain no one worked at night anymore. The cleaning ladies were let go. His older grandson moved to Utah. I chatted nicely with him until we reached the stage.
Nervously, he left us alone. He kept a watchful eye on Maya. He whispered as he left the stage, “ Don't look her in the eyes.”
That perplexed me. It was a strange thing to say.
I sat in the first row, middle seat. Maya stood, her feet together, her head hung down, looking at the floor. For several minutes, nothing happened. Just as I was going to fall asleep, she screamed and jumped into the air. Her body moved in slow motion, legs kicking above her head. Hips move from side to side. Her small pert breasts said hello to the sky as her long white neck caressed the shadows from the stage lights.
She fell to the floor. She lay there, motionless.
Maya suddenly sat up. She crawled across the stage, left, right. She writhed about...
She was gone.
I stood up, looked around. She had disappeared.....gone.
“Maya?” I called out. “Maya?” No answer. I wiped sweat from my forehead, looked up. There were forty or more large black snakes crawling around the stage and on top of each other. I was flabbergasted.
The lights in gauntlet dimmed several times. Right in front of me...when my eyes adjusted....the God of dance...God of death stood in front of me.....H'Gonn.
Just as she'd described him. Two red fiery eyes peering out from a face formed by many snakes of all kinds, crawling in and out of his skin. He reached for me and I screamed.
That's when I found myself in the all night cafe, facing another colleague. Richie Davenport. He was a business manager for many of the new York filmmakers. We were sipping black coffee, and I realized I was the one who had been doing much of the talking, explaining the events that had occurred
“My friend,” He said. “It sounds as if you have been through so much.”
I looked at myself in the cafe window. My reflection showed a person who had not taken care of themselves. Ripped overcoat, full beard, grimy face. “It's been a rough night.” I said.
Richie laughed. “Try a rough three years.”
“What?” I nearly broke down in tears.
“Everyone would say, 'that's Kevin, roaming the streets again as if in a daze.' I couldn't believe until three months ago I saw you on 2nd Ave. You didn't understand anything I said. Kept mumbling about Maya.”
I grabbed his hand. “How is she? Have you seen her?”
He shook his head. “No one has.” He saw the tears form in my eyes. “She's been dead for three years. Died in Haiti.”