As Tom walked, the unique atmosphere of Salem during Halloween seeped into his bones. Some tourists, with painted faces, giggled nervously at the sights. The more serious, however, wore gothic attire and had clearly traveled north to embrace the dark side. Either way, it was the land of ghouls and goblins where people made their imaginations come to life. Salem was the type of place that could spook a person from their dreams, where the most terrifying nightmares could become reality—as they did back in 1692. He forged on.
One block down, a sign read: Crow Haven Corner—Salem’s First Witch Shop & Purveyor to Witches around the World. It was the most famous witch shop in all of Salem, and the competing scents of many strange aromas nearly bowled Tom over. While other shoppers purchased everything from mother’s wort to frankincense, Tom purchased a plastic baggie of powdered mercury. The label claimed benefits toward imagination and writing composition. I can use all the help I can get with my poetry these days, he thought, stepping out of the shop to get some air.
Surrounding yards were bordered in black wrought iron fences, their sharp stakes warning off any unwelcomed visitors. Small English gardens were carefully tended. Even the weeds appeared intentional. The colonial houses, with their small windows, offered a warm feeling of home. Tom was inhaling it all when a door swung open and his hulking brother stepped out of one of the shops. Whether Jason didn’t see him or pretended not to, he walked right past him without so much as a look. It’s amazing how much I still despise him, playing me for such a pathetic fool like that, Tom thought, angry with himself for his brother still having any impact on him at all.
Samantha’s costume shop on Essex was the best in town. Tom admired a turn-of-the-century poet’s costume, while some hot-looking woman in her mid-thirties paid for a wench’s dress. It looks like someone’s in for a fun night, he thought, recalling when Carmen used to surprise him with similar delights. But those times are long gone for me, he sadly realized.
Just up the block, he stepped into the Derby Square Book Store. He’d just started browsing when two words echoed from his belly into his head: I’m hungry.
As he walked out, an old lady hobbled in hanging on to the arm of a teenage boy. “Take your time, Brian,” she said. “I’m not a young chick anymore.”
“Yets, Mama,” the lanky kid said.
Although Tom could see that the boy was cognitively impaired, what struck him most was the deep bond shared between the peculiar pair. What I wouldn’t give to have that with my children, he thought.
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