map Forty-Four

by Salvatore Difalco

Published in Issue No. 247 ~ December, 2017
It was a party to which I would have declined an invitation if my wife didn’t want to go so badly. So there we were, sipping cocktails. Mine had more vermouth in it than bourbon, never a good sign.

The host, Albert Teeth, commended us on our costumes.

“I see, you’re a vampire, and she is a vampire’s victim.”

“It’s the other way around, but thank you for observing that.”

“I hope you enjoy the party.”

“Where’s the bathroom?”

I walked as quickly as I could in the direction Albert Teeth had pointed me. People dressed as clowns and sorcerers, Mad Hatters and serial killers, crowded around the bathroom door.

“Is there a Felix Otter here?” someone cried. “Felix Otter?”

A tonsured monk stepped forth, shaking a sandal. “He left two secs ago with Lady Macbeth.”

“What’s your deal?” asked a woman in a white silk domino.

“I’m waiting to empty my bladder.”

“You speak plainly.”

“I do that.”

Someone dressed as a grizzly bear ambled toward us. Quite impressive. My knees gave a little.

“Fantastic costume,” said the woman.

“Ask her how old she is,” said the bear, in a gruff male voice. He stared at me with small depthless black eyes. That is to say, the bear’s eyes.

I tried to find holes in the costume from which the wearer could see out with his own eyes, but I could not.

“So convincing,” said the woman in the domino.

The bear continued staring at me with those small black eyes. Hot foul breath steamed from his toothy maw.

“That isn’t a costume, is it?” I said.

“Forty-four!” someone shouted. “Forty-four!”

The bear extended his forepaw to me. In it, he had a small paper chit printed with the number 44.

“Guess her age,” he said, “and it’s yours.”

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Salvatore Difalco lives in Toronto. His work has appeared in a number of formats.