And soon will be Allhallows. Day of the dead. Do some of you remember the sawdust on the butcher’s floor? Then some of you will come knocking at my door; some one knocking, alone — alone — alone.

And in my dark cupboard, it has a tiny shelf, my precious, as dark as dark can be, and there’s a dish of worms, all for me, me, me.

In the dark leafless orchard someone’s been digging, hammering, chopping, and sawing — watching and waiting there in the dark leafless orchard.

So I know a very, very old house. It’s got a crooked chimney pot where the dead depart in windless hordes. It’s got a narrow window that stares. It’s got a front door that ate a young family. It locked so tightly shut the skull knocker rapped nevermore … nevermore … nevermore.

There’s a back door. But the steps are worn and cracked. The light is dead but gives off an eerie glow. A thorny bush shakes and a scrawny light sways down by the fetid pond where a young boy once played.

Wait! Did you see the ratty lace? I swear it lifted. Not once, but thrice!

A wedding took place once on a lonely moor. A corpse bride, it is said. She lifted her veil and the hangman in another century smirked dumbly at the moon.

A very old woman lives in that house all alone, with the squeak of a mouse and the scream of the blood-red violin. She wears a spidery shawl and a nest of corpse-white hair. Low on his fours the black cat treads. Whiskers and claws, he crouches in the dark. Only now he’s deathly still. If he hears a sound, it’s a little sound — only a whisper or a sough or a creak in the boughs.

We will munch thistle, purple and spiked, and if we are lucky, be bony and gaunt, widowed and worn, faint and white. But it’s the trick or the treat that’s lured us out tonight.

Elf-light, bat-light, and small faces pressed to large panes, drizzling rain.

Who said, “crow pie”? The old King to the begging fool?

Alas, I can tell no more. I’ve found the cellar door.



Sometimes I imagine how simple life would be if I was a glass of stout. I’d get poured. Left a bit to allow head to settle. Admired by the buxom server. My malts and barleys all generously mixed into a heady punch. Then I’d get tossed back and swallowed until the only signs of my existence would be a beer stain on the mahogany counter, a burp, and a little brackish me at the bottom of the glass. But I’d be done. And enjoyed.

So, the obesity epidemic is swelling from continent to continent. We’ve had our Age of Reason, Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the nuclear revolution, the Web years of our great obsession, and now it’s The Age of Flab. And as the corpulence swells so the mind shrinks. Bad situation to be in. I’ve put on a few pounds myself from being sedentary and being an epicurean, but while I enjoy food I just don’t overeat. So what’s with everyone else? Does the enjoyment of food now equate with gourmandism? Is the only way humanity can indulge is to pig out as if life were a trough?

I see a future not of an utopia or a dystopia but one of torpor. Sloth-like beings. Women the size of flabby walruses. Men like hippos. And there would be decrees ordered from fat caliphates the world over to hunt out and murder all the trim. For these pariahs would be seen as being unclean and dangerous. Thinkers, rebels, bodies of dissent. They’d be hunted down not by the corpulent, of course, but starved out, or banished, or set afloat on old hulks to survive. Or the corpulent would capture them, castrate the men, tie the tubes on the women, and inject some kind of fat derivative, some kind of genetically modified fat compound, into their bodies that wouldn’t alter them physically but would encapsulate their minds in a flabby, fatty substance that would make them dull and obedient. Then these Fat Scabs would be used to hunt down the trim, boil them in fat and bring their heads back from a display on platters, like boar with apples in mouths.