Blaze Bonn lives at #3 Weeping Willow Apartments on 5th and Elm Streets, Cloverdale. To the casual observer Blaze appears to be an average boy, unremarkable would be a fitting adjective. But if you looked at him closely, you’d see average doesn’t describe him at all. Blaze's eyes set him apart from everyone. They are nearly human brown in color, yet different enough to cause one to stare at them beyond polite’s limit.
When exposed to candle light, Blaze’s eyes breath sparks of purple trailing thin strands of white gold. As if by magic, the flame’s siren song draws the boy into a spell. Moments later he speaks. His sounds cannot be understood. They form syllables, which in turn become words with patterns that confuse the English ear. His communions can last several minutes before his senses surface and the land of the living reclaims him as its own.
Once his mother asked him what he saw in the candle’s light.
“It’s not what I see mommy, Its what I hear.........Listen!,” He finished his sentence by raising his hand and cuffing it over his left ear. At that moment a distracted motorist slammed into the back of a stopped car just outside their apartment window. “You see mommy.” Blaze pointed to his ear and walked into his room, leaving his mother wondering.
“I hear dead people,” Blaze once told his Lutheran Pastor. The Pastor’s suspicions of Blaze were confirmed. On his church record, Blaze was labeled Fringe Lunatic, unusual for a boy his age. Counseling suggested.
Once during Sunday School, Blaze disagreed with the teacher over a passage in the Gospel of Paul.
“We don’t know what Paul meant exactly. It was written a long time ago so we rely on our understanding of Paul as seen through his other writings. That window into his heart and mind help us with passages that seem odd to us today.” The teacher explained. Blaze pulled out a cigarette lighter, created a flame and stared intently.
“Blaze, put that out at once and give me the lighter.” She demanded. Her order fell on deaf ears. Blaze was gone - disappeared into the other world. The teacher reacted instinctually. With the lighter in one hand, and Blaze’s hand in the other, she led him out of the room and to his mother.
“Blaze, what’s gotten into you?” Mother asked as they walked home along the canal. “What were you doing with that lighter?”.
Blaze continued to walk, wondering if his answer would bring her relief or more anguish. He settled on being truthful and replied, “Asking Paul what he meant.”
She stopped in mid step, took his arm and led him to a park bench. They sat down for for a moment before she spoke again. “Blaze, do you really talk to the dead through fire? I want an honest answer.”
“Yes,” Blaze answered.
“OK, take the lighter. I want to see you do it. Talk to mother. She’s been dead for several years now. Let’s see what Grandma has to say.”
Blaze lit the lighter and peered into the flame. Minutes passed. His eyes sparkled in harvest colors. Then came the mumbling. His mother watched his eyes intently. This was his ultimate test. Blaze never met his grandmother and his mother never spoke of her. His divining would either confirm or refute his claim.
The flame with out. Blaze put the lighter into his pocket and looked at his mother.
“Well?” she asked. “What did Grandma say?”
“She wasn't very nice was she?” he answered looking surprised.
“You talked to her then?”
“What did she say?”
“She said to stop talking and go away.” Blaze replied. His mother was quiet. Not a sound passed between them. Then she laughed, long and hard.
“My boy talks to the dead!” Mother shouted to the trees and the sky. “Grandma said that all the time. She never had time for anyone - especially children." She stood up, took Blaze's hand and led him back to the canal path. "Let’s go home and have some pancakes. Then we’ll decide what to do about you young man.”
They continued down the walk. Autumn leaves swirled in cool breezes around them.