once upon a times

11/03/2022 0 By BuddyCushman

From the LA Zoom writing group 45-minute rave-on yesterday:

Once upon a time it was Halloween. Just not yet.

Jessica Wheeler – ‘Jessie’ to her three besties – loved Halloween more than anything else in the world – more than her parents (sorry Mom and Dad), more than Trader Joe’s mint chip ice cream (crazy hard to believe), more than – and this is said with a big gulp of air – her three besties. It’s hard to say, hearing herself say it, and sometimes she’d sit on the bench above the bay and wonder why and how and when and the what of it, and it would be like a fugue – Jessie loved that word – and every single cell in her 15-year-old body would light up with the absolute knowing Halloween was the top of the pops, number one with a bullet, like Cilla Black singing, “You’re My World.” Like when you don’t hold back a single thing, brakes were never invented, and you get sweaty just thinking about it.

Then there are other reasons, and maybe the biggest is Mrs. Smith’s Mystery Shop, which is this store like a thrift store pushed back from the town common, so say Jessie opens the door at 10:30 in the morning with a small cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee and she walks back and forth, sipping everything in, all the fabulous paintings and puzzles and statues and jewelry boxes and strangely-shaped chairs and the coolest lamps ever and when she leaves she could put her hand on the witches bible and swear she could tell you exactly where every single thing is, and when she went back in at 2:30 of that same day’s afternoon it would all be different. Amazingly different. And every single time she’d ever pushed through the door of Mrs. Smith’s Mystery Shop it was different. And Mrs. Smith – at least Jessie figured that’s who that was – a nice old lady with just a touch of spookiness sitting on a stool behind a counter with one of those old cash registers would watch Jessie and once in a while say something like, “Lovely girl. Run into any ghosts lately?” And Jessie would say either no or yes – either would do. And the next time everything would be different except Mrs. Smith in the exact same position, like she hadn’t moved, except maybe she’d ask about witches instead. Or another of Jessie’s favorite words – ghouls.

And so having told you that, and there won’t be enough time to tell you about the three besties, it’s October 29th in the late afternoon, not quite yet actual Halloween, though – come on! – haven’t you been able to feel it for at least two weeks? And 10 minutes ago Jessie walked by the big windows of the 5 & 10 and there was this black cat walking inside the glass in the same direction and the next building was an insurance shop and the same black cat, for absolute certain, was walking along with her in there too. And it’s still two days to Halloween!! And there isn’t enough mint chip ice cream in the world which could ever touch this.

So Jessie stops and looks right in at the cat, which has also stopped, and says, “Aren’t once upon a times great?”