How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy (t3knomanser) wrote,
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

"I am Annabel Lee Baby!"

This story, which has no real point, is inspired by a street sign down the block from me. It bears a rather curious tag- scrawled in marker it reads, "I am Annabel Lee Baby". Over the course of a few years, I have passed through this area (and now live here), and in the three years since I first saw it, it has not faded.

The following story puts to rest some of my curiosity about it.

The neighborhood is remarkably free of graffitti. In fact, there is one mark, and a rather curious one at that.

On the back of a "No Parking" sign, the pole at this time happens to be bent from a bad parking job, is written "I am Annabel Lee Baby!" This is the sort of graffito that gets one's attention. Simply scrawled, in a distinctive hand, it is unusually literary, despite the popular appeal of Poe's poetry. Not exactly the ghetto-gangbanger's idea of a good tag.

That in itself makes it remarkable.

It is made even more unique because I have not once been able to find anything similar anywhere in the city.

It becomes even more curious when I tell you that it has been there since I moved in, thirteen years ago. Five years ago, a truck ripped the sign out of the ground. I happened to watch it be disposed of. They put a new sign in its place- and when I looked at the back of the new sign, a day later, already "I am Annabel Lee Baby!" was scrawled upon it.

In the same hand.

In the same place.

Seeing that gave me pause. And I was curious.

So late one night, I scrubbed the mark off of the sign, leaving the sign buffed and burnished with steel wool.

When I got up the next morning, I found a blank slip of plain white paper had been slipped under my door. Carrying it in my hands, unsure of what to do with it, I stepped outside, and walked down the street. On the back of the street sign, which was still burnished by my work, the same words appeared, in the same hand, in the same exact place.

In the sun, I saw the paper was not black, as faint brownish letters appeared, spelling out one word.


That night, I repeated the process, and come morning, the result was the same. Again, a slip of paper, again, I stepped outside, again the graffito was there, and again, the sun brought out the hidden letters, and again, I read it aloud.


I vowed not to experiment further with the sign. The more artistic half of my brain said, "Let it be, photograph it perhaps, enjoy it, but do not try to understand," yet, I felt the analytical draw of it, the compulsion of a mystery as yet unsolved.

I waited a few weeks. And a few more. Each day, the pull to _solve_ grew stronger, and I concieved a plan. I enlisted a friend who lived down the street from me. His apartment was a converted storefront with a large window and a clear view of the parking sign. He agreed to set up a video camera, and we cleverly hid it behind a plant, and the illusion was complete- no one could spy the camera. Again, I wiped away the graffito.

The next morning, there was no blank slip of paper, which really concealed a message. Nor was the graffito back. The enigmatic quote was no more. We left the video camera set up for several more days of course, hoping that the culprit may yet reveal himself, but it was all in vain.

I stood that final day of recording in my friend's window, looking at the sign. I turned away, resigned, and turned off the camera, ejecting the tape, which I discarded. My friend and I spent a few moments exchanging pleasantries, and I left dejected. Upon stepping outside, I was greeted with the familiar "I am Annabel Lee Baby!"; it had returned in the time it took me to say goodbye.

The street was empty.

But in my pocket this time, was a black piece of paper, which I removed. This day, it was cloudy, and there was no reaction, but I could see the faint discoloration, and I could trace the words- "Nevermore."

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