Before going on to the overconsumption of Thanksgiving and the frenetic rush of Christmas, here’s a look back at the holiday just past.
He approached the concrete walkway leading across the lawn towards his home at dusk. Sales trips were getting harder to take now that he was getting along in years and he was glad to be back home.
The “For Sale” sign on the front lawn stopped him. What the heck is going on, he thought with irritation and just a slight feeling of disorientation. There must be a mistake. Or somebody must have put this up as prank. Yeah, with Halloween just around the corner, some kid or kids must have jumped the gun and gotten an early start. Tricks! Didn’t Martha see them and put a stop to this nonsense? He put his carryon and sample case down on the walkway and angrily walked over to the sign, pulled it out of the ground, and tossed it aside behind the front hedge. I’ll put it out with the trash for the next pickup. If I find out who did this, I’ll show them a thing or two about treats or tricks.
Looking more closely around the front yard, he noted that the grass had grown a lot taller during the week that he’d been gone. When we skyped, Martha didn’t say anything about it raining a lot.
He walked up the front stairs and put down his bags while he fumbled out his key. It didn’t seem to quite fit in the lock at first and he pulled it back to see whether it was the right one. After reinserting it and jiggling it back and forth, the lock finally turned and he swung the door open. Funny Martha didn’t hear all of this commotion with the lock and come to the door. The house was dark and silent. Hey Martha, I’m home. Didn’t you hear me rattling the lock? Still silent and dark. He switched on the hall light. Where’s the runner on the floor? And where’s the bench by the wall. And the pictures?
He proceeded to the living room. The air smelled stale and he turned on the light. The room was empty. What happen to all the furniture? Where’s Martha? What’s going on? Confused and now anxious, beginning to sweat profusely, he went from room to room calling out to his wife and turning on the lights. Each room was empty of furnishings. Martha and I had an argument before leaving. I didn’t think it was any big deal. She didn’t mention it again when we skyped. Could she have just walked out with everything while I was gone? Maybe it was a much bigger deal to her than I thought. Oh my God, is that what’s happened? Or did something happen to her while I was gone and no one notified me? That’s not possible. What is going on?!
He searched his memory. Wait, how did I get home from the airport? And what flight did I take back? Was I in Chicago yesterday or was that on another trip? When did I leave on this trip? He searched his pockets for the ticket stubs and found none. Why can’t I remember? What’s happening to me? Am I having a stroke? Was it in the summer, in July when I left; isn’t that right? Or was that another trip? I think it’s October now, just before Halloween. Now how do I know that? He looked around—no chair—and sat down heavily on the floor, drenched in a cold sweat.
What was he remembering? —-A jumble of sounds, sensations, and sights began to jostle in his memory—-
Swaying, bumpy ride Blaring siren This is the front desk, how may we help you? A dark unfamiliar generic room
Blinding bright lights.
The feeling of heavy pressure on the front of his chest.
Please come to my room, I think I need help.
That’s twenty minutes and there’s been no response. Should we keep going?
What is all of that about? Confused, he pushed himself up from the floor and made his way to the bathroom to wash the sweat off his face, to gather his thoughts. He glanced up to look at himself in the mirror over the sink and saw only the door and room behind him.
Where’s my reflection? I can’t see me! What happened to me? Then the realization dawned—-
I came home all right. And I’ll never leave the house again. I guess whoever buys my home will get me with it. This Halloween, the neighborhood kids will have a real haunted house.