Article: 288577 of talk.bizarre
From: (Kate McDonnell)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: le nordelec
Date: Sun, 01 Dec 1996 03:26:18 -0500
Organization: Les graphiques Grenade
Lines: 86
Message-ID: <>

it's rock slabs till about 12 feet up. then it's brick. a massive
brick battleship of a building eight stories high, filling a city
block, dominating a neighborhood.

   small sepia photo, mostly white, with the stone and brick
   wall in the distance. caption: 'the dot in the middle of
   the rink is Harry Chubry'.

the floors are polished hardwood. it's a good place to walk
barefoot. there are random deep black gouges, unsandable
and unerasable evidence of the hard usage the place has seen.
during world war 2 my mother made parts of armaments
here on the 5th floor. her family lived a block away.

   "that rink was on what we called the lumberyard. we used
    to bring a hose and ice it ourselves so we could skate."

during the 90s her daughter is running an ISP from the same
floor of the same building. the lumberyard is a parking lot.
the sausage factory is still beside it, whiffing garlic and paprika
into the street.

the building is not a simple brick shape. it's a maze of wings
with deep narrow spaces between them. in the summer, birds
dip into the gaps and fly around. their distant cries echoing at
the edge of hearing.

from many windows all you can see is other aspects of the
building itself.

from some windows are visible the roads and trains and canals
that explain this place. from other windows are visible the onion
domes of the ukrainian cathedral, the flat facade of the polish
church, the twin grey structures of the english and french
churches, and the simple elegance of the fire station at the

   "in front of the fire station it was paved with cobblestones
    and the horses that pulled the fire engines had special shoes
    so they could grip the stones and get the engines moving.
    the horses' feet would strike sparks off the stones as they 
    came out of the station and turned onto Richmond Street."

from some windows are also visible the ruins of another massive
brick building, the old sugar factory.

   "my mother used to tell me not to climb on freight trains--you
    never knew who might be lurking inside them. but of course
    i did. once i climbed up on a freight car in the sugar house yard
    and looked over. it was an entire space filled with dead horses.
    they used the horses' bones to make charcoal to refine the sugar,
    you see. i looked at the horses and then i went home feeling sick
    and didn't eat for a day and a half."

the building is so big i bring my bicycle up in the elevator and bike
to the office, the hardwood floors creaking under my wheels.

my mother's old house is still there, intact but boarded up. in its
back yard, where her mother grew dahlias, someone has since built
and then abandoned a large ugly concrete garage.

   small sepia photo: 5 boys leaning against the stone wall, baggy
   trousers, peaked caps pulled down over faces in a 1930s homeboy
   style. second small photo: the same stone wall, the same boys,
   older, in suits, more urbane than tough. in both shots the poses
   are pure hollywood.

sometimes the big double door is open to one of the unrenovated
wings. it's a large open space, the old dirty windows shattered into
cobweb patterns but held in place by mesh, the wooden floor hidden
under layers of worn gray-painted plywood and flaking, peeled-away
linoleum. the space is sparsely lit by bare hanging bulbs. there are
cryptic symbols painted on some of the pillars, and old circuit
boxes dangle here and there on crumbling wires.

and i stand there and imagine the space full of lathes and punch
presses and CRASH bam CRASH bam noise and young women in
overalls and poodle haircuts, someone pushing through with a
cart full of metal blanks for the next batch of shell casings, and as
i stand there my mother rushes through me, the pre-ghost of her
as-yet-undreamt-of daughter, standing there leaning on a bicycle
and staring.

the guardians of hell, having bought you, will cook you there in jars