My favorite works of dark literature are two short stories: The Mask of the Red Death by A.E. Poe, and the Willows by Algernon Blackwood. Now that I got that off my chest, lemme commence to bloggin’…
As a cab driver in San Francisco, I’ve witnessed some pretty bizarre things on Halloween. But when it comes to Halloween stories, blogging about some asshole vampire who got sick on the back seat my cab—and then fled, leaving me to deal with it in bottleneck traffic up in the Castro—seems mundane. In fact, the whole cavalcade of nudity that is Halloween in San Francisco pales in comparison to this story.
I’m a senior in high school, carousing in the playground late at night, smoking a bowl while standing on one of the swings. It’s Halloween, so I’m swathed in bloody bandages. With my leg in a fake cast, and my perception sharpened by the weed, I watch my two friends dressed as pirates play a game of one-on-one in the dark.
The night is clear and mild, and moonlight glints off the broken beer bottles, as I revel in the glorious thud of a basketball banging off the backboard, and swishing through the metal net. Suddenly, a floodlight pierces the darkness, and hits me dead in the face with its blinding glare. The cruiser’s about fifty yards away. In an amplified voice, a cop orders us not to move, and both my friends take off like rabbits, or race hounds, or whatever the fuck. Real turf athletes, they scramble away and fly over the high playground fence to freedom. While the hi-beams are on them, I toss my pipe away under a bush.
Next thing I know, I’m kneeling on the ground with my hands on my head, trying my best to take the pressure off my fake broken leg. A cop shines his flashlight in my face, while his partner searches the area for drugs and paraphernalia.
It doesn’t take them long to find my stash, and suddenly I’m in the back of the squad car—in a cage, looking out behind the grille, feeling scared and helplessly alone. In the station, they take me into a back room where the fluorescents are insanely bright, and a detective with a baldhead and a face riddled with acne scars, puts my ceramic pipe in a baggie and tells me they’ll have to send the stuff upstate to the lab, to verify the contents. Meanwhile I’m free to go.
When a couple of weeks passed and nothing happened, I wondered if the whole thing was just a bad dream. I never told my parents. But they found out for themselves, first-hand, when a few days before Thanksgiving, two detectives showed up at our apartment. Luckily, I wasn’t home. But that night, as soon as my key turned in the lock, my father met me at the door wearing a grave expression. And, as a law-abiding citizen, he did as he had promised the detectives he would do, and drove me directly down to the police station. In the car, he told me, “ Plain and simple, you screwed up! But they’ll probably just give you a slap on the wrist since you have a clean record and the amount of marijuana is so small.”
He was wrong. At the jailhouse, the cops separated me from my father, and then they took my mugshot, and put me in a holding cell by myself. Some guy down at the end of the row was talking shit in the darkness, as each vivid detail of that holiday night came back to haunt me…
About the Author