A SPOOKY PARTY
Its been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown, set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The weather turned moody and diffuse this week as we moved out of the heat wave into honest Fall and all the leaves clustered in heaps on the side streets around the parked cars, as if to find sanctuary among the hubcaps from the sweeper.
This is the time when all the folks who can do so decorate their lawns or their porches with such memento mori as suits the venue. Last Halloween Tommy and Toby held a party at their flat down by Otis with Marlene and Andre helping out. Marlene and Andre are the town punk rockers and they had come up from the West End to visit. Their skateboards were leaning against the wall. Susan and Lynnette had driven over from Park Avenue on their bicycles and Suzie came as well along with a number of others.
Lynette, who is Jewish, had managed to bring over a casserole in her saddlebags without spilling a drop. This casserole was stuffed with oysters, shrimp, crab and pork. Surprisingly, it really was quite good.
Besides the usual feral female cats, a couple pirates and assorted space aliens, the apartment overflowed with a Mr. Hanky (that was Chris Lindberg, who held a devotion to the South Park television show), the Almeida family dressed as a bag of marshmellows, the Island-life Editor come as a dead and rotting Ronald Reagan, several members of Congress dripping with blood and looking a bit vampirish, three Bin Ladens, and at least one premature Xmas present. Tommy, dressed as a hamster and Toby, dressed as an elderberry bush got into an argument that started over the spoiled flan on the stove. This sequed into a heated discussion about Toby's relatives, who did not approve of Tommy, nor their "lifestyle."
"That's where you get your finicky finicky finicky sort of attitude about toothpaste! You are just like Uncle Albert!"
"Oh you think you are so . . . so neat! Well you!"
Suzie, dressed as a chimney sweep sat there nursing an unaccustomed Manhattan on the comfy chair while a hamster in the kitchen shouted at a weeping berry bush.
In an evening which had begun acrimoniously, and which showed signs of descending into atavistic savagery, Claude, visiting from New Mexico, managed to intake quite a bit of punch which somehow got him into the mood to breakdance, but all he could do was spin around on his back on the floor. He had gotten into a tiff with Mr. Hanky, the Xmas Poo a little earlier over the nature of women and certain unpleasant memories had stirred up. The two had been married to the same woman, although at different times, and now the woman was with neither man. When an otherwise distinguished professor of physics in his sixties dressed as a cockroach begins spinning around on his back in the livingroom, weeping all the while it makes for an ugly sight and Shanti, wearing an appropriate Arkin Pest Control outfit began shouting at him. Suzie sighed.
This of course got our pair of punks in a dither, and so two zombies started shouting "eff you!" with ratcheting enthusiasm, but since they always said that to each other, few paid any attention.
The door was open and a girl, about eight or nine walked in. She was barefoot and wearing what looked like an old-fashioned nightgown with a Peter Pan collar. The time had just passed midnight.
The girl walked up to Suzie through the crowd and stood in front of the woman. This is what she said.
"Please tell them to stop. I can't rest. Please. It hurts."
Well, of course. Late hour. Neighbors and all. It was a wonder no one had called the cops.
Seeing this, Susan walked over to stand there and block any more cockroach gyrations and Claude came abruptly to a halt with his eyes staring wildly up at the ceiling. Susan told Shanti to be quiet while Lynette went into the kitchen to intervene between the hamster and the elderberry bush. An odd chill filled the room.
The little girl looked somehow familiar, with her dark hair tumbling down in sleepy curls. She stood there, not smiling, then turned and walked out of the door, down the steps and over the breakwater dune to the beach with the full moon lighting everthing up quite clearly. There, she kept on going out over the mudflats exposed by the low tide and vanished as Suzie and Marlene and Andre stood there in the doorway, watching.
"Effing A!" said Andre. Everyone else was as quiet as the grave.
Naturally, that is precisely when the long wail of the throughpassing train ululated across the choppy, haunted waters of the estuary and the width of the Island as the train made its way from the eerie lights of the Port's tall gantries through the dark and shuttered Jack London Waterfront, heading off to parts unknown and some mysterious, unknown destination.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a spooky week.
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