OCTOBER 25, 2015

 

THE GHOST AT THE PARTY


 

So anyway, leaves skittered across the street from where they had fallen from dutifully molting oaks on Santa Clara Avenue and clouds scudding across the waning moon caused shadows to flap and dance in the corners.

While the Almeida family combined their efforts to construct costumes and turn their designated "safe house for Halloween" into something frightful (but not too frightful) the Native Sons held their annual Monsters Ball at the parlor location hard by the marina. The Almeidas turned the chicken coop into a witch's haunt, using stiff cardboard painted black with a stovepipe chimney that puffed real smoke -- from a mini fog machine located inside the stack.

Mrs. Almeida would be handing out candy next Saturday dressed as a mackerel and Mr. Almeida planned to dress as a fishing rod with a little gummy worm attached to the hook. He had a little problem with entering and exiting the doorway, trying to find a way to telescope the long 7 foot rod attached to his back until Mrs. Almeida told him to just go as a stubby rod and reel and let imagination do the fill-in.

"It's not the length, dear, it is the imagination you use with it that matters," Mrs. Almeida reminded him.

Robots are the big thing this year, due largely to movies.

Gilberto, who was born long after Judy Garland had passed on, was hammering together pieces of conduit for a Tin Man costume. Filiberto was soldering -- with supervision -- a Wall-E suit. Alicia was going as a Minion, and would be watching over little Santiago, dressed as a mini-Minion. Ana was going as the fembot from Ex Machina while Ana wanted to be R2D2 but only because the costume was easier to make than that other thing with the English accent. Jorge couldn't decide between Chappie or Iron Man from the Avengers, but both of those required too much work and help from his older brothers. He eventually decided on a cobbled Transformer.

The shindig at the Native Sons of the Golden West started off quite serene. Lionel, dressed as a distinguished vampire, escorted Jacqueline who came as Morticia from the Addams Family sitcom.
The way these things go, when people actually act out their fantasies, they wind up frustrated until they can assemble a new fantasy that can never be realized, because if your fantasy becomes Reality, then that is no good, in turn because Reality is always fraught with disappointment. That's just reality, dude.

Mr. Spline came as his hero Col. Armstrong Custer, while Mr. Terse entered the door as his hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower. People thought they were a couple, but the truth is, they were both straight and pretty narrow and neither could find dates.

Besides the usual feral female cats, a schooner's worth of pirates and assorted space aliens, the hall overflowed with families from an entire block on San Antonio, each dressed as a GOP candidate for President, the Sanchez family dressed as a bag of marshmallows, the Island-life Editor as Ben Bradlee, several members of Congress dripping with blood and looking a bit vampirish, four President Assads, a baker's dozen of hastily done DAESH fighter-thugs carrying scimitars, a plethora of medical workers in hazmat suits, which made for drinking the punch through the respirator masks a dicey proposition, and at least one premature, but hopeful, Xmas present.

Lynette and Susan came as an Harley Davidson engine and as a biker chick, respectively.
Pimenta Strife strode across the threshold in 6 inch stiletto heels and a set of angel wings with a diaphanous tunic that left little to the imagination and it was pretty obvious she had a Brazilian wax job. Instead of a date she draped the end of her barbed tail over her arm; she knew she wouldn't go home alone.

Given the eclectic mix it was inevitable that an argument would ensue, and ensue it did close to midnight, after all the guests were well lubricated.

The Harley engine got into it with Eisenhower over women's rights to choose what they want to do with their own bodies and DDE would have none of it. Donald Trump got into it, siding with Eisenhower while a woman in a Hazmat suit tried to remove her facemask to help the Harley. Bernie Sanders stood to the side and offered the comment that the problem was that corporations had a stranglehold on the throat of America.

Several of the GOP candidates began bickering among themselves about the best way to make everything and everybody Conservative and a Gerrymandered District lay down on the floor to explain how it was done and a couple marshmallows tripped over his legs and fell down too. The hazmat woman finally ripped her mask loose, saying, "Now if you don't have a uterus . . .", but she never finished as her elbow accidentally wacked a livid Ron Paul who threw a wild roundhouse punch that, true to the Tea Party Movement, missed its target by a mile, striking instead a hapless Congressman vampire, sending his false teeth flying.

Things quickly descended into a savage, atavistic brawl with costume tearing, wookie hair pulling, robotic parts sent skittering, and facemask pulling that would have any NFL referee in shock and awe. Col. Armstrong Custer stepped into the melee which grew to involve some twenty-five people. There he stood and removed his colt pistols and then discharged them at the same time while pointing to the ceiling. A little plaster fell down from above where everyone could see two neat, brand new bullet holes.

"You brought live ammo to a party! You've taken this military industrial complex thing too far!" said Dwight D. Eisenhower. "Are you crazy?!"

The door opened and a girl, about seven or eight walked in. She was barefoot and wearing what looked like an old-fashioned nightgown with a Peter Pan collar and her dark eyes were very large. The time had just passed midnight.

The girl walked through the crowd and the heaped up bodies up to Morticia, who had stayed clear of the fray along with Lionel, and stood in front of the woman. This is what she said.

"Please tell them to stop. I can't rest. Please. It hurts."

That made them all feel pretty sheepish. Well, of course. Late hour. Neighbors and all. It was a wonder no one had called the cops. Poor child, trying to sleep.

The little girl looked somehow familiar, with her dark hair tumbling down in sleepy curls, as if she evoked something seen on a poster or the side of milk carton. She stood there, holding the most serious expression on her face, then turned and walked out of the door, down the steps and over the breakwater down to the wharves with the full moon lighting everything up quite clearly.

"Good god! She's going in!" Someone shouted.

Several people erupted from the hall, led by Susan B. Anthony followed closely by Colonel Custer and Dwight D. Eisenhower. They all stopped short when they all saw what happened next.

There, the little girl stepped off the edge of the wharf and, walking on the quiet water with only minor ripples spreading outward from her small feet, kept on going out across the cove then over the top of the gentle swells, and glimmering faintly as if lit within by a candle, continued to walk on the surface of the water out into the middle of the Bay and there vanished as all of them stood there, watching.

"Effing A!" said Eugene, who was dressed as a caddis fly nymph. Everyone else was as quiet as the grave. "Didn't something like this happen last year?" Everyone else remained as quiet as the grave.

That was when the train ululated from far across the water as the locomotive trundled from beneath the spectral gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their 1000 watt lamps, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the haunted grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the motionless basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of ghostly shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

 

 


 

 

BACK TO STORY INDEX