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6/16/19 (306 dead sailors) – Jackson Aytch – Medium

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USS Cyclops, in a photo that has always terrified me.

When I was seven years-old and getting ready for school one morning, I saw a ghost, or spirit, or an entity of some kind, standing in my doorway.

The entity was tall, the height of the doorframe, and shaped like a man in a cloak. It felt and looked as if it possessed an ‘absence’ more so than a ‘presence’.

I first caught the shape out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look at it, the shape moved left, past the doorframe, and disappeared.

My mother has a very strong connection with death.

My grandmother showed my mother and her sisters the crime scene and autopsy photos of their father. My mom explains this by saying her mother wasn’t thinking clearly after the murder. I don’t blame her.

The night before my grandmother died, my mom dreamt that all of her deceased family came to her. They all thanked her, told her what a great job she had done, and they’d take it from there.

My mom got the phone call the next morning.

My girlfriend and I found a book about the Bermuda Triangle at Half-Price Books. I flipped through until I found a photo of the U.S.S. Cyclops, a U.S. Navy collier that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle in 1918. It remains the largest loss of life in U.S. Navy history not involving combat.

My father’s great uncle went down on the Cyclops. I showed my girlfriend the photo and told her about my great great uncle who disappeared with the ship.

She said I seemed really excited about his death. To which I replied, basically, that I definitely am. His death links me to the Bermuda Triangle. And, for me, that links me to some of the mystery left in this world.

I hope that, if I have children, they feel the same connection. I hope no one ever “solves” the Bermuda Triangle. I hope that the concept of a thrice-great uncle isn’t too distant for my children to feel connected to a truly remarkable phenomenon.

I remember being a young child, lying on the floor of my room, trying to contort my body into the shape of a swastika. Just to see if it was possible.

As a matter of fact, I feel tremendous guilt and conflict for wanting children.

I have a friend who crews on a lot of films in New York. He told me about a homeless guy called Radio Man who shows up at film sets blasting music on his boombox until the producers pay him to leave.

If you’re shooting a film in New York, he told me, you’re going to encounter Radio Man.

Radio Man, with his radio

Two nights ago, I watched Keeping The Faith at a friend’s Shabbat dinner, and Radio Man had a little cameo in the film. He rides by on a bike, then Edward Norton says, “Hey, Radio Man!”

And I said, “That’s Radio Man!”

I lived in New York for one month in June of 2014 – 6 years ago. I think about that month more than almost any other period of my life. I always suspected life would be divided into chapters, but it’s more of a long, unintelligible screed.

But that month in New York. That month was very much a self-contained sidebar. Like a bonus feature on my life’s DVD.

For some special event in Episcopal Sunday School, all of the children received a little clay statue of a saint. I don’t remember who my saint is, but the figure currently lives in the middle cabinet of my mother’s antique escritoire.

Multiple times throughout my life, the door to my saint has popped open. Always when I’m going through shit.

The door popped open the day I got arrested.

I have an unopened Ouija Board (by Parker Brothers) under my dresser. I admit I’m afraid to use it. I’m afraid to have it out, which is why it’s hidden.

Last night, I dreamt there was a massive cathedral in the center of Austin. Suddenly, the cathedral erupted in flames and became consumed by fire. Buildings all throughout Austin followed, suddenly bursting into flames. I watched all of Austin burn from the top of a hill.

I’m really not religious, but you can’t rid it from your bones entirely without becoming the kind of person who’s an aggressive online atheist.

I think “vaguely believes in something” is good for my brand.

I should have given New York a better shot, but I do like the rain in Austin right now.



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