SEASON OF THE WITCH
NOVEMBER 3, 2008
It's been a quiet week here on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. As the tailfeathers of Helen's garden flamingo began to spin faster and faster the great wind came up and blew away the dawdling Indian Summer with blasts of cold rain. This did not stop Papoon and Babar from continuing with their increasingly contentious campaign for President Bum of the Yacht Club. Polls show the two running about even with Pahrump and the rhetoric is running fierce and hot around here.
Babar has put aside offers of help from Eugene Shrubb, much to the Incumbent's chagrin. Seems the long investure of Newark by an army of sterno bums from Sacto has grown unpopular. Shrubb's economic policies, which featured a "whiskey rebate" program that gave a free pint to all locals, including children, has drawn a lot of fire as well. That "leave no child behind" didn't work so well.
Whispers of the cursed "voodoo economics" are circulating, making connection with the man poisonous. Shrubb has even lost his prime spot at the dumpster behind Chez Panisse, and as for getting a table at Zabars, fugeddaboudit.
Its all come down to the last few hours now, just a few more hours is all they got. After the election on November 4th, the winners will all be roistering in hot tubs with scads of designing women drunk on free champagne and line item blandishments. But there will be no glory in the losers circle, where the bill collectors will all descend like ravening wolves tearing at any scrap of meat left hanging. For a young man, its rough trade time and time to pull back behind sandbags well arsenaled with fifty-cal machineguns, to marshall forces to sally out again a later day.
But if you are an older man with a few years on you, a bad ticker and old war wounds, the pitiless will swarm in a bee-cloud of harpies shrieking atonement and blood offering, stinging every soft place and carving out pieces with their terrible flensing knives. Its especially harsh if you come from a place that sees winning as proof of something as much as losing is detestable and scorned. Then, the only thing left will be cowled Mephistopheles arriving with his hooks to drag him back to the furnace below while the once powerful man howls for the horses of the night to run yet a bit slower.
And why not call for Time to cease -- after all, his kind always claimed to make their own reality.
But you can only make "reality" if you have something supernatural on your side. And now that supernatural is calling for the bill to be paid in full in a few hours. Aghast, he watches as the Loa comes to ride his erstwhile running-mate in a chariot of firey serpents. The Night of the Succubus is at hand.
Over at the Old Same Place Bar, things have not reached that level of demonic fervor yet. Its doubtful that anything so dramatic will ever happen in the place run by Padraic and Dawn with its IRA donation jar at one end of the bar and its jar of nameless pickled pork sitting at the other in a cloud of what can only be anerobic bacteria and brine.
Quentin is holding forth on the latest edition of his biography in front of Jose and Pahrump, but there is little space this time around to detail that. Eugene Gallipagus is sitting at the bar, still half in costume from the party at the Native Sons of the Golden West. Eugene went as a pocket gopher and his tail is looped around the barstool. Turned out that a gopher costume didn't add well to his attempts to secure female companionship that night. Any number of pirates, vampires, lace cavaliers and stock traders managed to get lucky, but nada for the gophers.
Lionel and Javier had got the idea of impressing Maeve and Jacqueline, respectively as a surefire Batman/Robin team. They had this plan worked out that featured Batman swooping down from the ceiling at midnight to dramatically unfurl his cape in the middle of the dance floor. To execute this stunt, he and Javier got up harnesses, pulleys and ropes attached with quick release carabiners so as to let the ropes fly up into the rafters where they spent all night Thursday setting up their apparatus with the help of a tech from Pixar. He even set it up so that the both of them could drop on friction glides without needing someone to control the descent. Stuff like this is easily available all over the Bay Area, which has any number of studios, including Lucas Films, just chock full of technical goodies. Rare is the party without at least one smoke machine and they got four of them set to go off simultaneously during the grand entrance.
They even thought about throwing party favors and confetti as they descended. It was all well choreographed.
So the time came for the their Big Moment except that, in the intervening time, on Friday during the day, the guy paid to provide the entertainment hung up a huge disco ball right there in the center of their flight path, which they didn't see until already up there in the rafters. Well all right, they could accomodate that. Lionel, Batman, would drop first and shove the ball aside on going past so that Javier, Batboy, would just glide right on through.
Except that is not what happened. The friction pulleys were designed to apply more resistance the closer to the floor the actor got, but initially they let poor Lionel fire past that ball at terminal velocity so that his gentle push became a mighty wack, which shoved the ball way way out in a swinging arc that managed to wrap itself around the line and, after yo-yoing this flapping Batman a couple times, completely halted Lionel with a jerk about ten feet above the floor, pulling his shoulders out of their sockets in the harness and causing him to immediately pass out with a groan as all four smoke cannons went off right on time.
Meanwhile Batboy plummetted down and instead of missing the ball as it swung back, rammed his left leg right through it, causing something up above to break and all the lights went out and the power to the music died.
It was the leg he had broken during the Island-Life flyover that was stuck inside the ball and so he was in great pain as he hung upside down there high overhead. But when he got himself loose, he was afraid to let go of the ball and drop.
In the silence, little patters of the party favors happened all over the hall as they loosed themselves from the bags torn open during all of this ruckus -- they were free colored condoms from the Grab Bag Bowl at Good Vibrations, which at the time had seemed like a good idea, mixed with plastic toy bats and spiders and gummi worms.
Some of the guests used cell phones to light their way through the smoky gloom, but there were a few shrieks from some of the women -- and some of the men too -- when the dim light showed these things in their hair. Everyone got real quiet, thinking that this was a terrorist attack. The one they all had been waiting for since the 2004 Orange Alert during the last Presidential Election. Nobody had ever come forth to say that the Alert had changed color, so they all assumed, well, still on high alert we guess. They must be coming any day.
From a dark and amorphous form hanging about ten feet in the air came a low moaning. It was Lionel coming to.
That's when somebody, nobody knows who, knocked over the punchbowl and about fifteen gallons of Bloody Mary mix went onto the floor and several guests. There was a thump and a cry of pain and outrage in the darkness; Javier had finally let go of the ball and dropped on top of Eugene sending the balled up gopher skidding across the slick floor.
In the headlights of Officer O'Madhauen's cruiser -- someone had called 911 about a terrorist attack -- he saw garish figures staggering out of the smoke-billowing doorway, some with aweful wounds -- gashes, internal organs spilling out -- and many dripping with what appeared to be gore. His Crown Vic was soon surrounded by bloody phantasms, vampires and ghouls all clawing at him and begging for something like help.
He tried to back out but was stopped by what appeared to be an immense bloody gopher rolling on the grass. So naturally, he rolled up his windows and called in for backup and Coast Guard helicopters.
As the woods around the Hall filled up with grim SWAT team guys wearing black masks and carrying tear-gas and MAC-10 submachineguns and the spotlights from the helicopters shone down, the long wail of the throughpassing train came ululating across the water from Jack London Waterfront.
Yes it was a night to remember for a long time.
Here in the Bay Area, and especially on the Island, we always do up Halloween like nothing else. So much so, sometimes it takes a year just to recover.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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