The Pain. The Torture. The Foreplay.
A Halloween Retrospective
Halloween’s ghosts are gone. The vamps went back to their coffins. Headless Horsemen rode off into the woods, since they weren’t getting any. Zombies looking for tacos had to settle for poutine, or perhaps they fed on their own puke. Who knows? Who’s to say? Spirits of Allentown shut their doors a while back, but their sign still looms ominously in the sky.
Eddie and I wander out of Nietzsche’s and into Holly Farms. We’re ghouls on the prowl. It’s Halloween and a little past five p.m. Not only is it the magic hour when everything looks pretty and not as fucked up, but it’s also Eddie’s birthday.
“I’m treating myself to a pack of good cigs,” he says to the clerk. “Camel Lights.”
“Here, I got you,” I press $25 into Eddie’s grip and start to walk outside.
“Do you really think this hat looks hot?” I say, turning back. I’m wearing a navy cap reminiscent of a cop. Vintage. The antique dude across the street offered a fair price.
“Of course. Definitely.”
In the threshold of Holly Farms there’s a bunch of quarter machines filled with jewelry. One contains plastic grenades and dollar signs, which are definitely not Eddie’s style, so I put some change into the one with happier-looking charms. A necklace, featuring a lime green ice cream cone on a string, comes out.
Eddie’s already outside smoking a Camel. I hand him the plastic ball from the quarter machine.
“Wow, thanks,” Eddie says, putting the necklace on.
“I want to hear some music,” I say, taking a drag from Eddie’s cig. “And I’m feeling like a watered-down tequila sunrise wouldn’t totally suck.”
Several men are coughing on the bench outside The Old Pink, looking like run-down versions of The Village People, or maybe it’s the cast of Oklahoma. Who knows? Who’s to say? Maybe these guys aren’t even in costume. Eddie and I climb the steps and push the door open.
Everyday is like Sunday…Morrissey croons. Everyday is silent and gray…
Darkness folds around us. The ceiling drips. We sit at the very, very end of the bar, alone.
“Are you sure you don’t have to get back home?” I say, slurping my sunrise. “What if she’s planning a surprise party?”
“Are you sure she’s not waiting for you nude and covered in sushi?”
“She definitely isn’t doing that.”
“I just want you to have a good birthday,” I say, and take Eddie’s hand. “I don’t want to ruin it.”
“Hillary. Rodham. Clinton,” shouts a man at the opposite end of the bar while slapping his palm on the pine. “HILLARY. RODHAM. CLINTON.”
“Ruin my birthday?” Eddie scoffs. “You’re totally making my birthday.”
Eddie has been sipping Guinness and scotch. We order one more round. The aroma of pot starts to permeate The Pink. Eddie’s staring at me and I can’t remember the last time he blinked.
“Rejection is one thing,” Morrissey croons. “But rejection from a fool… is cruel.”
“We haven’t had drinks together in years,” I say. “Why?”
“I don’t trust myself to behave around you,” Eddie says. “I don’t want to lose control.”
“Control is overrated.”
“If we ever got back together, you would just break up with me after six months again.”
“Timing wasn’t right with us, Eddie,” I say. “Sometimes I wish it had been.”
“I rushed things,” he says. “I should’ve put things in perspective.”
Three 8-year-olds in Halloween costumes arrive and sit next to us. They place their bags of candy on the bar, which I notice is completely slanted to one side.
“They must have had a long day,” I say. Eddie still hasn’t blinked. “Eddie?” He puts both of his hands on top of my thighs, zooms his face up close to mine, and emits a werewolf growl.
“I want to kiss you,” he says. “On the cheek.”
“Fine,” I say.
Eddie kisses my cheek, lingering for a few seconds before snapping back to reality.
“My girlfriend asked me if I would be open to sleeping with other people,” Eddie sips his pint. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ She just said, ‘Ok,’ and never brought it up again.”
“That sucks,” I say. “If you bring a gun into Act One, it better go off in Act Three.”
“Chekov said that, pretty sure.”
“Well, I think you should revisit the topic. Polyamory is trending nowadays – everybody’s doing it.”
“Trying to find everything you need and want in one person is the source of our universal frustration,” Eddie says.
“That’s why I think I’m better off alone,” I say.
We finish what remains of our second round.
“We should go,” I say.
“I know. We should. I’ve been gone all day.”
“Yeah, it’s getting late. You probably have lots of messages to listen to, calls to return…”
Eddie zooms in close to my face again and emits the werewolf growl. He puts his hand behind my head, and we make out for the first time in years.
“Break up the family,” Morrissey croons. “And let’s begin to live our lives…”
Eddie snaps back.
“We should go,” he says. “That’s just the right amount of infidelity for this evening.” He wanders outside.
“Yes, we need to go,” I rummage in my pockets, give $20 to the bartender and go outside too. Eddie’s smoking a cigarette under a gnarled tree.
“Allentown is haunted,” he says. “They dug up a cemetery.”
It’s dark now, but unseasonably warm. Eddie and I make out again under the tree, for a while it seems, until he suddenly snaps back again.
“I want you,” he says.
“I want you too,” I say. “But I’m through being the other woman.” I kick the tree trunk. “Done with being a side chick.”
“I understand.” Eddie’s staring into my eyes and apparently still hasn’t blinked.
“We’re better than that, Eddie.”
“So now what are you gonna do?” We walk past Spirits of Allentown and around the corner, back to where I parked so I can drive Eddie home.
“I’m supposed to make tacos,” he says.
“Make tacos? On your birthday?”
“I’m going to walk in the house with a boner and it’s all your fault.”
“Just say it’s that time of the month,” I say. “When you have more erections than usual.” Eddie gets in my passenger seat. I start the engine and cruise out of Allentown.
“Can I smoke in your car?” he says.
“Smoke away, smoke away,” I say. “It’s your day.”
I drive up to Eddie’s house and put on my turn signal, but decide to pull into the 7-11 next door instead. I put the car in park, and turn to Eddie.
“So, um, let me know how everything goes,” I say. “Let me know if there was a surprise party.”
“Doubt it,” he says. “And you know how it’s gonna go.”
“I’m going to make tacos, then have sex with my girlfriend while thinking about you,” Eddie shuts the passenger side door. “I’ll see you later.”
“You just haven’t earned it yet, baby…” Morrissey croons from my stereo as I drive away. My night is young, and off to a good start.