The House at the End of the Street
Halloween night, the comedian came home from work to discover his wife
gone, as in gone for good, and a note written on a piece of watermarked
Italian stationery taped to the bathroom vanity mirror that said,
"Whatever you think in terms of who, what, when, why, and how, you're
For months he'd braced himself for this inevitability, so he was
surprised that he was surprised. He drank good single-malt whiskey
throughout the evening as a procession of kids knocked on the door: a
boy with a rubber arrow through his head, a girl with a dress like
Dorothy's from Wizard of Oz, twins costumed as Hall and Oates. There
was no candy in the house so he scavenged the kitchen. Out went a can
of Hormel chili, a bottle of ketchup, a bag of frozen giblets. "Well,
it's something," he'd say, sometimes laughing crazily, wondering if
they smelled the booze on his breath, wondering if he might have been
losing his mind like his wife said.
The trick-or-treaters pelted the house with eggs, tomatoes, shitbombs.
They garlanded the branches of the front yard sycamore with toilet
paper. They chanted motherfucker-this and cocksucker-that from the
street. Finally, at half past eight, the comedian flung open the door
and called a truce.
Out went the Tibetan crucifix he and his wife bought on their
honeymoon, the Zodiac desk globe she gave him for their first
anniversary, the granite Egyptian Ramses he gave her for her fortieth
birthday. It felt like a great unburdening. "Everything must go," he
explained. "Halloween sale. One hundred percent off."
The kids kept coming, dressed like zombies and witches and vampires.
Even some adults, bold and shameless, disguised under blankets with
holes cut out for their eyes. Out went the carved wood fireplace
bellows, the scrimshaw swordfish bill, the ivory mah-jongg box.
Years later, after the divorce, after the comedian moved away to Texas
and fired a bullet through his brain, they still kept coming on
Halloween nights to the house at the end of the street, drawn there by
some vague memory of feast and ruin, like ghosts haunting their domain.
Thomas Cooper is a PhD candidate in the creative writing program at
Florida State and has fiction forthcoming in Lake Effect, Beloit Fiction Journal,
Bayou, Underground Voices,
among other places. His work has been nominated for a 2008
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200808house.htm
Photo on page main page courtesy
of John Cohen.
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