Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Widow of Frankenstein, part the first

Over the month of October, I'll be sharing a story I wrote a few years back--appropriate to the season.
 It's always been of interest to me that when men play God, they still use God's materials. We don't really create. We merely observe how things work, and then try to replicate God's craftsmanship. We've yet to create something truly new: just variations on a theme, using pre-existing materials.
It's rather like the joke about the scientist who decided that he no longer needed God. He went to God to tell him this, and God challenged him to a man-making contest. "And we will do it just like I did in the beginning with Adam," God said. The scientist agreed, and picked up a handful of dirt. But God replied, "Not so fast! You get your own dirt!"

--Eve Frankenstein
* * * * * * * * * *
It was All Hallow's Eve, just last year--which sounds like the beginning of plenty of run-of-the-mill, campfire-variety horror stories--but in this case it's quite true. I remember that it was one of those marvelously clear autumn nights that make you seek out dark, quiet place so you can count the stars and remind yourself of the grandeur of creation and your place in it.
Let me stop here and apologize if I start to sound a bit religious. The fact is, I am. I'm a preacher, actually, with a very conservative denomination--which is why it's odd that I have any place in this story at all. Many of my fellow ministers this time of year are railing against the "evils" of this "Satanic" holiday, or hosting Halloween-alternative parties at their churches. I, on the other hand, generally acknowledge the old church traditions of All Saints Day, and usually suggest to my congregation that we could spend the day reading up on those who have gone before us as inspirations for our own spiritual lives.
Anyway, our congregation didn't have any special activities that night, so I decided to take advantage of the zaniness of the holiday, and have a little fun out on the town--complete with costume! I'm already a pretty hairy guy with a full beard, so it just made sense to me to use a little makeup, and go as the Wolf Man.
An hour or so later, tired of dodging little goblins, I ducked into a bar on the corner of Washington and Fourth--Tenebrae. I don't normally go into such establishments. It's a liability in my line of work. Tonight, though, I was a Wolf Man in a party mood--just one more grownup child in costume looking for a good time!
I pressed my way through the crowd and the wall composed of equal parts cigarette smoke and loud music, heading for the bar. Passing the umpteenth person in leather and vampire makeup, it finally hit me that most of these folks weren't just masquerading for tonight. This was their usual gig. Tenebrae as it turns out, is a “goth” bar. So I’m a little slow–gimme a break! I was nervous. Just get a drink and try to be inconspicuous, I told myself. Yeah, right!
By the time the bartender got to me, the stereo was blaring some oppressive electronic funeral dirge. The lead singer was moaning something about, "How can I haunt you, demon-lover, if you won't let me die?" I remember it because it sampled Bela Lugosi intoning, "To die--to be really dead: That must be glorious!"
"You got something akin to a Bloody Mary around here?"
"In here? Of course!" he laughed.
"Great. One Bloody Mary, extra spicy."
While I was looking for a place to sit, I spotted her. She was leaning back against the bar, long white fingers wrapped elegantly around an empty glass. The Bride of Frankenstein!

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