In 1990 I was living alone on the North side of Chicago, I was 35 years old then. As I worked third shift, and it was my day off, I took an early nap as it was Halloween, and I had to pass out candy to the neighborhood rug rats, and I wanted to catch some sleep before they started to hammer on my door for treats. I woke up around 5:00pm to the sound of rain and faint thunder instead of kids knocking. I put on my glasses, and looked out the window, and not a kid in sight. Rain beat down on the window, and I walked to the kitchen in my bathrobe, and made a cup of coffee. I decided to check my mailbox, and I completely freaked out at what I found. A large fat manila envelope with four dollars in postage on it, with a curious symbol where the return address should be. They got my name and address correct, as well as the zip code, all written in some rather beautiful calligraphy. I walked to the dining room table and opened it. The contents were $150.00 in small bills, singles, fives and tens. Also a brass house key and a letter, in the same handwriting that read: “Michael, I am sorry that this has taken us so long, not just in locating you, but in explaining a good deal about your Family, and much news also. This is the key to the front door of your Grandparents house on Monitor Avenue, please be there at Midnight tonight, you are in our thoughts, your Cousin, Patricia.” I knew exactly where my Grandparents lived, despite the fact that they had passed on years ago, and I was under the impression that the house had been sold. I really had no direct contact with my Parents, neither my Mother, Father or any of my Family members, most of them being dead. My Parents had mysteriously vanished when I joined the Merchant Marine at 18, and I could not locate them when I came back from sailing to India. We had a strange relationship, and they were rather distant to me my entire life. I was closer to my Grandparents, who had come to this Country from Ireland in the 1920’s. It was around 9:00pm, and I got dressed, finding an old raincoat, and umbrella, and as I had to take the Grand Avenue Bus, not having a car, I walked the six blocks down Karlov Avenue to Grand Avenue to take the CTA bus. I passed the Tiffin Theatre on the way, which reminded me of my childhood, and all of the Saturday morning matinees there. Still raining out, I trudged on in the gloom, the rain and the mist had a calming effect on me in the settling darkness. No kids at all tonight, with a few Halloween decorations in some house windows. I made the bus stop and waited in the shelter. About 15 minutes later, the big green city bus pulled up, and I dropped a dollar in the fair box, the driver grunted a greeting, and I took a seat near the front, looking on the North side of the street, where I would eventually have to get off. The businesses were all closed, and I caught the occasional jack-o-lantern in a window. The rain still came down, and I had many thoughts going through my head, and wondered what my Cousin looked like after 20 years. The windshield wipers of the bus were the only sound on the bus, as the last passenger got off. After an hour, I finally arrived at my stop, I exited the bus, and walked slowly down Monitor street, until I recognized the house, two story, boarded up, gray and deserted. I thought to myself, this had better not be a prank. I was tired and slightly wet, I ascended the stairs to the front porch. I took the key out of my pocket, and inserted it into the front door lock with the help of my cigarette lighter. The door creaked open, and I was even more surprised to see a single red candle burning in an ancient brass candlestick on an end table, with another, larger envelope. Amazed, I walked to the table, picked up the envelope, that simply said Michael, in the same calligraphy, and opened it. What came out was a large key ring with several keys, around $1,200.00 in cash, and a short letter that stated: “you will be picked up at 2:00am so be ready. Patricia”. Add plot thickener (the plot thickens). Using the candle, I made my way through the long abandoned, but quite familiar house, and laying on it’s side in the dining room was a rather new suitcase, which I opened, wherein, I found a white dress shirt, and black dress pants, new black shoes, socks, and a belt, with the same curious symbol that was on the envelopes, for the buckle in white metal. I paused, put them on, and they fit!!! Amazing, but I was starting to get creeped out. I went back to the front of the house, and sat down in an old chair and waited, listening to the rain outside. Just before 2:00am, there was a quiet knock at the door, and I cautiously answered it… A tall gorgeous brunette stood in the doorway, and simply said, it’s time to go. I picked up the suitcase that now held my old clothes and followed Her outside to a white corvette, She opened the trunk, and I placed the small suitcase inside, walked to the passenger side, and got in. She put the car into drive, and we were off… Um, Patti, I enquired? No, silly, I’m just your driver. Ah, I responded, well, can you tell me where we’re going?! Yes, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates. Your Uncle had a bar, the Rainbow Inn. Um, that’s been closed for years, and I haven’t been there since I was a kid. She replied, it will be fine, it’s just a nocturnal Family reunion of sorts. You do have the keys, She asked. Yes, a key ring full of them. Good, She said, you’ll need them. The miles went by, and about an hour later, we pulled up to a very old, derelict bar, again boarded up and abandoned looking. Well, this is where I wait, the rest is up to you. Take your time, She said. I looked suspiciously at the place, and took out the ring of keys. After some fumbling, I found the right one and the lock turned in the door, I pushed it open quickly. The bar was entirely lit by candles, several people stood around the bar, drinks in hand. My allegedly dead Uncle Joseph asked what I would like, and I told Him scotch on the rocks if He had it, He said coming up, and placed a double in my hand. My Cousin Patti appeared next to me, smiling, and said, welcome home!! I looked around, and most of my relations whom I thought to be dead and/or missing were eyeing me with great curiosity. It was then that I noticed the naked blonde Woman laying on the pool table. My Aunt Margaret quipped in with Her soft Irish accent, oh, She’s for you. What do you mean, I stammered? Well, Michael, can you tell any of us, exactly why you like to eat raw sirloin, or why you only work nights, and eat lots of salty snacks? When was the last time that you went out in the daytime? How do you know these things, I asked? We’ve always knew where you are, but we had to wait until you were psychologically ready. Ready for what, I stammered. My Cousin gently took me by the hand and said relax, it’s nothing more than a mutated retrovirus, combined with a recessive gene. The Woman on the pool table looked dead. Oh, She’ll be fine, my Cousin said, taking a ring with a tiny blade on it, and gently cutting into Her wrist, there. She pushed my face down to Her wrist, and forced Her hand to my mouth, forcing me to drink the warm salty liquid, and in a moment, I was holding Her wrist in both hands, unable to stop myself. My vision turned red, and my eyes rolled up in my head. I found myself on the floor going into convulsions, She said gently, it’s OK, it’s only your body dying, it happeed to all of us too. I blacked out. I woke up back in my apartment, the following night. I felt young again, reborn, with pleasant dreams about my Family. What a dream, except for these new clothes, strange keys, and a considerable amount of money for which I cannot account.
Author: Michael McArthur