The Zippo blazed filling the corridor with a halo of comforting light. I held the lighter at eye level to avoid catching a glimpse of Ginger's shadow on the walls. The Dog hadn't mentioned reflections or shadows ... I just wanted to be on the safe side. Behind us in the distance Ric serenaded our escape with a reprise of "Harlem Nocture". I'll never hear that elegant old war horse in just the same way, I thought as we hit the first flight of stairs.
I ran as fast as I dared. Ginger's bare feet slapped in the puddles behind me as we began our hasty retreat from the underworld. As we reached the top of the stairs I felt my Ginger's fingers growing warmer.
The dripping stopped. The tile dried and the corridor seemed less dank. A pale green glow of an exit sign in the distance promised resurrection.
The door was flush without a handle. I deduced that was because no one ever left. But Ric he comes and goes there must be be a way ... I felt along the trim and at the threshold. Behind me Ginger began to sob softly.
I knocked. The door opened. Light poured in. It was not the sapphire light of the Modern Lounge but it also wasn't sunlight either ... we weren't out of the woods yet . The dog's words ..." no looking back no talking to Ginger or anyone you may meet along the way."
The light was from a thousand golden A-lamps, Edison's first, and to my eyes, the finest light bulb ever made. Warmth, life ... gratitude washed over me. Ginger's hand was hot and sweaty. We stood in the same lobby Ric, Harleigh and I had passed through on our way to the underworld. The rotting carpets, and couches were new again the formerly dead parlour palms were brilliant green.
I snapped the Zippo shut and walked toward the reception to leave it with the desk clerk. Who, as it turned out was none other than Harleigh Holmes . He put his finger to his lips reminding me not to speak.
I surrendered the blessed life saving Zippo. Harleigh winked and pointed to the vestibule, floor to ceiling sparkling glass, where I shared a cigarette with Mr. Lounge five minutes or a million years ago. Beyond the glass partitions ... sun lit up the bluest sky.