Let us pretend you are Jonathan Harker, en route to pay a visit to
As you await the arrival of your horse-drawn coach (also an accurate statement), you'll see your driver has not yet taken his seat and is talking to the landlord, Dwayne. They are evidently talking of you, for every now and then they will look your way, and some of the people seated on the bench outside the door will come and listen also, and then look at you, most of them pityingly.
|Look closely and behold how the landlord, Dwayne, |
has decorated the Bistritz General Store especially for your arrival ...
The time will seem interminable as you start on your way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscure the full moon. Suddenly, the driver will pull up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined cottage, from whose tall black windows come no ray of light, and whose broken battlements show a jagged line against the moonlit sky.
As you stand close to a great door, old and studded with large iron nails and set in a projecting doorway of massive
Within stands a short, dumpy old woman, clean-shaven save for a few bristles sprouting from her chin, and clad in black from head to foot without a single speck of colour about her anywhere. She holds in her hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burns without chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickers in the draught of the open door. The old woman motions you in with her right hand with a courtly gesture, saying in excellent English, but with a strange intonation:—
I am the insomniac, and I bid you welcome to my cottage. Come in; enter freely and of your own will. The night air is chill, and you must need to eat and rest.
|Death the Bride, Woman Mourning Dead Child, Death of Beatrice ...|
Hey there, welcome to our house!
Your hostess suggests that you will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself by making your toilet. She trusts you will find all you wish. When you are ready, she bids you come into the other room, where you will find your supper prepared.
|Oops. Forgot to mention you should probably avoid the outside toilet. |
That's where the spare Home & Garden decor is stored
until such time as it finds a permanent resting place.
After completion of your ablutions you return to the Great Room, where you find your hostess standing to one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework amidst a collection of her favourite things which she has gathered together in one central location, specifically for your enjoyment. Or perhaps they've been gathered together in preparation for the photographer's arrival ... who can say for certain.
She makes a graceful wave of her hairy-palmed hand, with its long sharply-pointed black nails, towards the table and says:— I pray you, be seated and sup how you please. You will, I trust, excuse me that I do not join you; but I have dined already, and I do not sup.
But I may just have a teensy sip of that absinthe, if you'd be so kind as to pour.
After supper, you retire to the Library where your hostess joins you, explaining she has learned English through careful study of the newspapers, magazines, and other literary output of that country. And she will casually drop today's issue of the Calgary Herald on the table beside your chair, not coincidentally opened to this very page:
|Not an expert, by any stretch of the imagination ...|
But thanks for that, Shelley!
At this point in our story, the insomniac completely steps out of character and starts dancing around your chair, fist pumping and high five-ing the taxidermy while emitting ear-shattering squeals of excitement that sound something like, “thank you Shelley for thinking of me for this article thank you Tom for being so patient trying to get a picture of someone who detests getting her picture taken thank you Calgary Herald for publishing the article thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!”
Oops. Probably should have warned you to cover your ears before that outburst. What, you have to leave now? So soon? But you haven't seen the rest of the cottage yet, decorated in all its Hallowe'en finery!
Might one tempt you with a snack before commencement of your return journey? Or perhaps a toy to provide some small measure of entertainment during your lengthy coach ride home?
No? Well if you feel you must, then go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring!
And as your driver jumps into his seat and shakes the reins, the horses start forward and you all but disappear down the dark drive under the light of the full moon, the insomniac will slump somewhat forlornly in the projecting doorway of massive
And ... scene.
PostScript: Practically every word of this post has been cribbed from Project Gutenberg's online version of Bram Stoker's Dracula - names were not changed to protect the innocent (sorry, Dwayne). There simply wasn't time to compose something from scratch, being as ill-prepared as ever as far as blog posts, impromptu meals for unexpected guests, Christmas Markets and Hallowe'en costumes are concerned.
And as the afternoon draws to a close, it's looking more and more likely that this evening's attire for the Hallowe'en festivities at the local saloon will be Something That Clawed Her Way Out From Underneath a Rock - a costume requiring very little in the way of preparation on the insomniac's part, but one suspects will become increasingly difficult to verbalize coherently as the evening progresses ...
Happy Hallowe'en, everyone. :)