Just before colleges opened in the fall, and just as they closed in spring, those were the time to forage. We’d find a friend with a car and head over to Cambridge, Comm Ave, or over to Brighton and patrol the streets. There you’d find anything you fancied as students emptied their apartments. It was a vast cornucopia of goods.
One spring, we found a massive mirror on the street. It was in mint condition and large enough that it could reflect the entire room behind it. Seeing the advantages of adding it to the Folkie Palace’s decor, we carried it from Cambridge across the river to Beacon Hill. It was almost too large to fit up the stairwell, and it took hours of manipulation to pass it up the three flights of stairs. Once installed in the living room, it seemed to double the size of the room, and we found ourselves frequently looking in its direction as if to watch what was going on in that adjacent new space.
One night a visitor who had taken one too many tokes attempted to walk through the mirror and kept on insisting that the party happening on the other side was much more exciting. Next week Jill, another frequent visitor, perched on a stool in front of the mirror for an entire night. Jill insisted that what was on the other side was not a perfect reflection but that if you watched long enough, you’d see differences in the room, just tiny ones, but there nonetheless. We noticed that some avoided looking at the mirror entirely but paid little attention.
It’s important to mention that the living room at the Folkie Palace was a sort of dormitory – it was the proverbial wall-to-wall mattress sort of room where a sequential flow of people in transit lived between adventures. Then when the lights started flickering at night, we put it down to bad trips, reflections from the street, and imagination.
Eventually, more than one person checking their reflection in the mirror started to notice that the reflection smirked or winked at them. We put that down to the subconscious, “reflecting” on their status. Then it happened to the Teahead, then the Monk, Bill, and eventually me.
We had a conference that turned heated as some of us insisted that the mirror had to go. Into this walked our con artist near friend John. He sat there quietly as we reviewed all the incidents. John then suggested that we turn this into an opportunity. So the haunted mirror became a local thing.
John sold tickets, and the rest of us became guides for the mirror world experience. We shared with ticket holders the flashing lights at night, the winking, the slight variations in the scene, and lots of stuff John insisted would enhance the experience. But late at night, we started covering the mirror.
That was when the tapping started. At last one night, four of us crept up on the mirror as the tapping began and whisked the covering sheet off. There stood four of us with amazed expressions on their faces but not holding the sheet. That did it the sheet went back on.
We had found the mirror in the spring. It was fall when we carefully carried it down the stairs and placed it on the street with all the other debitage of student life on Beacon Hill. It was gone the following afternoon. Over the years, as long as any of us remained on Beacon Hill, we remarked on the mirror’s spring and fall appearances. It never seems to find a home and is in perpetual transit.