Legendary monsters of popland

Last night I wandered Holloway alone. The array of ghouls and vampires consorted so snugly with my mood that it took the best part of an hour, not that it truly had a best part, to remember it was Halloween. I bought two small cans of Hunter’s Dry and a punnet of strawberries from a zombie with her hair in a bun. She had brain matter gummed to her chin, but she was very polite.

Outside Harry’s Hut I saw a young man drop a scratch-card in the shoebox of an older, homeless man. Seeing me watch him, faintly appalled, from the shadows, he waved an airy hand and explained. “It will offer him more than I can, or teach a valuable lesson in life’s cruelty.”

Something gave me pause. The young man had resisted costume. He was heavily spectacled, with black drain-pipe trousers, a grey cardie over a white t-shirt, and flat black brothel-creeper shoes. He wore his brown hair in a quiff. Nascent suspicion bloomed into icy paranoia when I saw that his spectacles did not reflect the amber light of Harry’s sign. They had no lenses. He was in costume after all.

I croaked a good night and we parted. I conferred one can of my cider on the homeless man, in an act of both sabotage and self-distraction. But I had to look. And yes. Paranoia, as always, had barely gone far enough. From the back pocket of the young man’s jeans, disrupting the hang of his cardie, sprouted a cluster of gladioli.

I have joined the undead. I am become a monster at last.

I walked back to the Vapours with a heavy heart and not enough Hunter’s Dry.


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