OCTOBER 23, 2016


So anyway, the season lapsed into ominous leaden sky days with swirling Blakean skies that threatened each moment to plunge some terrifying chiaroscuro god with his finger pointed down. Beatrice came out to find that the finches had created a terribly defomed baby with twisted legs that would never survive, which seemed a bad omen. So she drowned and buried it and removed the soiled nest from the cage.

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 Monster's Ball at the parlor location hard by the marina.

Witches are the new IT girls this year, due largely to the lack of imagination in movies. We are done with pirates, vampires, ghosts and ghostbusters, and Rocky Horror characters. Spiders remain good for decor along the walls, but nobody wants to dance with a spider any more than one would want to dance with an octopus. We do seem to have quite a lot of zombies of the brain-eating kind, which is only logical in the years after the last Bush Administration devalued gray matter to such an extent. And this election seems to be encouraging quite a lot of brainless people to emerge from the woodwork.

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 from Star Wars. 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 basic zombie with brains a la carte.

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.

Mr. Spline came as his hero Col. Armstrong Custer, while Cmdr. Stiffstik entered the door as his hero, Admiral Nimitz. People thought they were a couple, but the truth is, they were both straight and pretty narrow and neither could find dates and they thought Cmdr. Stiffstik was portraying George Patton.

Mr. Spline showed up as James Bond, but because of the way he was dressed, people thought he was Edward Munster or Lurch.

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 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.

Denby, dressed as a court Foole, got into the spiked punch and after five or six rounds sat weeping about having to go to Hell or someplace like it next week while Tinker Bell stood there trying to console him. She was as cute as buttons and she knew it.

"Nice hat," she said. "Why don't you come upstairs and take off your pantaloons." she said, then added, "You can keep your hat on."

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 Dwight D. 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 James Bond. 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.

"What's it like in Hell," Tinker Bell asked Denby.

"It really sucks," Denby said.

Just then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from across the water where the skeletal gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood eerily glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights, quavered across the spectral waves of the estuary, over the riprap embankments, over the haunted grasses of the Buena Vista flats and over the twilight zone of the former Beltline railway; it moaned through the cracked brick of the defunct Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the dark locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its spooky journey to parts unknown.