Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Birthday Party

My friend’s grandmother called and asked if I was going to the party. I tell her I don’t know anything about a party.

“She’s having a birthday party, and I know you were invited,” she says.

I tell her I never got an invitation. “Oh, sure you did,” says the grandmother. “Look on top of the piano. I look, and there is an invitation. Thick cream-colored card stock, obviously professionally printed. The party is today, and I have to leave right now.

I go to a building down the street from the house where my friend is living. A firehall, or perhaps the social hall at the Catholic church. My friend is there with her extended family. “You aren’t supposed to be here,” she tells me. “Everyone is waiting at the house, and we’re going to make an entrance.”

I go to the house where she lives; her stepfather’s house, the one she grew up in. It’s a ranch house that used to have just a small concrete block by the front door, and not a proper porch. A porch of massive proportions has been built. It has a gabled roof and several levels. It’s full of party guests, waiting for the grand entrance.

Her blind step-father is there, and tells me that the family is bringing a goose. “When they get here, we can cook the food.”

There are lots of people I don’t know, as well as a few I do. Kenny is there, which strikes me as odd because he dealt himeself a fatal gunshot to the head many years ago. It is very dim under the porch.

Three 80’s-era conversion vans pull up and park at angles by the curb. The vans are dented and rusty. The family all jump out of the vans, waving, and the party guests on the porch whoop and cheer.

Someone opens the sliding door on the side of one of the vans, and what I presume to be the goose flies out. It is a massive bird with white feathers, and it is a skeleton from the chest up. It flies up on to the porch, and lands on a table behind me.

“Someone turn on the grill,” says the stepfather.

The bird stares at me with its gaping sockets.

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