Porkpie Hat – October Street

To the untrained eye, there is a street, cleverly disguised, looking like any other quiet, suburban, tree-lined autumn street.

Driving down it at night, you would see the usual sorts of things. Brightly lit windows filled with images of cut glass vases, watchful cats, families gathered around a dining table.

You would see respectable homeowners out walking respectable dogs, doorways decorated with strings of skeleton-shaped patio lights, dollar store witches suspended from eaves.

What you would not see, though, is the dark, hidden, October heart of this avenue. You would not see the wicked shadows gathering like rare, dark insects in the spaces between the houses.

Driving down the safe, buttoned-up boulevard, you would miss the subtle, coded text of back-alley revelations: the discarded blood-stained bandage sitting in a puddle of antifreeze; the grave-shaped piles of leaves; the ripples on the surface of the abandoned-since-mid-summer inflatable swimming pool, signalling the arrival of a gathering storm.

In your comfortable and sensible family sedan, late for a dinner party, you would drive blithely by the plague-ridden rats scuttling about in the rafters of a boarded-up house, and the tasteful bungalow in which a real estate agent is methodically planning the murder of her invalid father.

Carefully checking your GPS navigator, you would fail to notice the lost cat poster written in a child’s looping handwriting, or the hedge-hidden home across the street, in which the neighbourhood poisoner of cats sits in his TV room, watching a sitcom.

Returning home after eating a little too much ham, drinking a little too much red wine, you slip off your shoes, undo your tie. You turn on the stereo, check your email, and upload some photos. Outside, unnoticed, the weather is turning nasty, moving from bad to worse.

There are hands and faces raw with cold. There are collars turned up against the wind. There is ice forming on the naked branches of trees. A black crow lands on your balcony railing, holding something in its beak, and begins carefully tearing it apart.

You draw the curtains, and draw yourself a bath. The alcohol and the warm water make you feel heavy and numb. To ward off the bad dreams, you take a little pill, climb into bed, fall asleep listening to Diana Krall.

On the October Street, miles beneath you, there are video cameras watching high-rent doorways. Half an October world away, there are early-warning systems monitoring empty horizons, waiting for something to appear.

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