There used to be a pirate who lived on the roof of our apartment complex. He fell out of the sky with the rain. I remember the night; there was a big storm. I wanted to sit outside on the balcony but Mom wouldn't let me so instead I sat inside with my head by the window, tracing the lines raindrops made as they slid down the glass outside.
There was a lot of lightning. I love the way it lights up a room for a split second and in that moment the room looks completely different; almost as though magic were possible in this room.
Magic did happen that night, but not in my room. I didn't know at the time though. Mom came in and told me it was bedtime so I put on my pajamas and Mom got in bed with me and we went to sleep.
The next morning I got out of bed and I could hear something on the roof. A tap, thump, tap thump noise was coming faintly through the window. When I told Mom though she just said that it was doubtful we could hear anything from the roof on our floor. The roof was six more floors up.
I went upstairs anyway. I'm not actually supposed to go out onto the roof, but if no one's looking I go up there. I like to look around the city and see all the nice houses and buildings and imagine living there.
The pirate wore on eye patch, but not over his eye. He had a hook hanging in his earlobe, one that looked just liked Captain Hook's hook, but maybe a little smaller. I myself have never had a chance to see his hook up close. Not yet.
He asked me where he was and I told him, then he asked where his ship was and I told him I didn't know. He asked me my name and I wondered for a moment if I should tell him, and then decided I should and told him. He said his name was Russell.
When Mom was away at work and I was home all alone I would go up to the roof and play with Russell. Playing pirates with him was way more fun than playing with Marty, who lived down the hall.
He let me wear his hat and be the captain. We would capture ships and steal all their gold, but we always left them alive (because we were good pirates) then we'd sail off into the sunset.
Russell seemed lonely sometimes, so I would bring him things I found to cheer him up. I picked flowers from our neighbors flower pots to give to him, and picked up weird things off the ground. But sometimes he just didn't seem to feel any better.
Russell was lonely for his ship, and I knew it and he knew it, but I didn't want him to go. He was my best friend; he was the best babysitter a kid could ever ask for, especially one like me.
Then, one day, before I left Russell took the patch off of his head and gave it to me and then turned away to sit with his legs dangling over the edge. I didn't think anything of it at the time and just ran back home.
That night it rained again. I sat inside with my head against the window listening to the raindrops fall against the glass. I thought about Russell sitting in the rain on the roof, but Mom wouldn't let me go out in the rain.
When it was time for bed Mom and I got into bed and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought about Russell once more then cuddled in closer to Mom and fell back asleep with his patch clutched tightly in my hand.
The next morning I went out on the roof. I was going to tell Russell I was sorry; I should have invited him inside for the storm, but he was gone. I looked all over for him, calling his name. A man answered once, but it wasn't my pirate, just some big old man in the apartment two floors above ours. If I asked anyone where he was they all acted like he had never existed.
I went back up to sit on the roof with my feet dangling over the edge. Russell had disappeared in the storm it seemed; maybe he had gone back to his ship. I hoped he had found it. I hoped he wasn't lonely anymore.
I never talked to anyone about Russell after that, and maybe no one else did know he existed, but I know. Every night I fall asleep with Mom, an eyepatch held in my hand.