Better Safe (Part I)

“It’s kinda amazing, right Lyn.”

I turn around on the narrow cobbled street.   Vendor stands line the sidewalks, stacked high with cheesy t-shirts emblazoned with one line witchy slogans.  Between and around the vendors, people mill in full on costume even though Halloween is still more than two weeks away.   Witches abound.  Kiddie witches.  Sexy witches.  Drag queen witches.  There are others too.  Insane clowns, zombies, and fairies.

At Guin’s insistence, I’m in on the fun, dressed in allegedly authentic seventeenth century clothes with a ridiculous bonnet over my head.  It’s kind of frumpy.  Salem at Halloween, not exactly my idea of a party, but Guin was having a good time.  In fact, she’s way too excited.  I guess it’s to be expected from someone whose parents named her Guinevere.

“Wild,” I agree.  “What time is our tour?”

The sun is gone and a huge, harvest moon is rising above the roofs of the buildings that  line the town center.  It appears that glow in the dark make-up is especially popular among the clowns this year.  I’m about at my limit; the sooner we get out of here the better.

Guin looks at her phone.  “Ah! Five minutes.  We have to run.”

She grabs my hand and we run through the crowd.  I pull into myself, not wanting to even brush against the robes of the guy dressed like Death.  Guin seems oblivious.

“There it is!”

Guin drags me into the line that is starting to wrap around the block.  Ahead, the solemn gray house is somehow creepy.  The windows are tiny and sparing.  White lattice covers them all, even the ones in what must be the attic.

“It’s one of the original houses.  They actually held witch trials here.  Torturing and condemning those poor women.”

I glance at the house again.  Perhaps that’s what makes it creepy.  Perhaps the gross injustice of it all means this place could never be normal.

“They were all innocent, you know.” Guin’s voice is loud and carries in the night that is somehow suddenly silent.

I nod, already preparing myself.  She’s gearing up, and there’s no stopping her once she get’s started on her version of the “Salem Trials Atrocity” rant.  We know. We all know.  Anyone who’s taken a tenth grade history course knows.  The Salem witches were innocent, killed by power hungry men.   She goes on for a few minutes and I just nod, tuning her out.  When her voice fades away, I look around for the reason why.

The doors of house swing open and two women, dressed like me, stand in the entrance.  They are supposed to be descendants of the original judges, but with their narrow, drawn faces, their stern buns, and their dour expressions, they look like they could have been a part of the trials themselves.    Their ancestors were responsible for one of the earliest travesties committed on American soil and now they stand here profiting off of it.  It’s a little shameless.

The taller, plumper one speaks.  Her voice is deep and mannish.   “Enter and prepare to hear the tragedy of the Salem Trials.”

With those words the two step to the side, extending their arms to the dark interior of the house in a gesture that I guess is supposed to be welcoming but it makes me feel like running.

Guin grabs my hand.  She’s practically shaking, she’s so giddy.  We walk into the house.

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