Poor Mojo's Almanac(k) Classics (2000-2011)
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Fiction #5
(published Mid-year, 2000)
by Gordon Smith

Our headlights stretch into the dead vast waste of mid-night. We beat back the night with every mile. To the right, all along the lakefront, fires, bonfires, leaves burning fill the air with the sweet tang of smoke. They flicker orange, like knives in sunlight. You can see them playing on the glass of the lake. You tell me that the lake is cold this time of year. I'd say the lake never gets warm. We are trying hard not to talk about what we've left behind.

A sliver of moon, oblong and untidy, a gross football, sits in the sky, shedding greedy half-light. Where it mingles with the firelight, shadows fall and rise again. It creeps me out. You like the 'effect.'

We are driving now through the haunted houses. The houses on our left, stone on stone, would be pressed against the lake but for the road. Some of their porches spill onto the grit along the shoulder, it looks like. I can't see a sidewalk. You claim it's under the leaves. Everything's under the leaves, according to you. Children, as devils, as angels, as monsters, kick through the leaves, carrying satchels. They should have flashlights.

One of the houses pulses with light. Music plays, cars park in front, and we see tuxedoes and evening gowns laugh and enter. Torn jeans and worn shoes leave. A scarecrow, crucified on the lawn. The lake shore is closer, and I would almost swear that the road has driven itself like anail into someones property. Are we driving on someone's lawn? Just watch where you're going. The headlights are smoked like mirrors from the nearby fires.

The houses disgorge their parties. Peacocks roam arm in arm with vampires, and a zombie shuffles aimlessly in search of sex and brains and rum. Someone screams, and runs from a house, clutching at a knife buried deep between the ribs. The blood throbs and runs. Looks like life, I say, or at least life-like. You keep watching the jack-o-lanterns, whose faces smile harmlessly, gaping, toothy, twisting your seatbelt over your belly. The body drops to the ground, and the axe murderer, pursuing, laughs. Then helps the vicitm up. They go back inside. Music.

Ahead near the side of the road, a body is draped into the arms of a werewolf. From here, we can't tell what it's supposed to be: a cowboy? a farmer? a scarecrow? All we see are overalls. The werewolf holds the bodys head in its hands stroking the hair. As we pass, the werewolf looks at us with wide, wet eyes, and then the house opens itself and more guests surge out to the road, to the body. Music spikes.

I can hear the music rise and die as the road curves: now clear, now faint, like the soft ululations of a distant siren. The night, long and blue, seals itself behind us. We have never been here.

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