It seems like a large group of Shriners. I don’t think I’ve seen a Shriner since we lived in the prairies. What the hell is a Shriner, anyway? Surprised I remembered the name.
They’re walking in a huddle, and their red felt hats are getting soaked. They don’t seem to care about the rain. They walk slow, steady in pleated green pants and suit jackets – what you’d paw through in the Value Village suit section. The ladies’ skirts are also pleated, white stockings high and wooly.
Laughter drifts from their circle and crosses the street towards me. I’m walking to meet Terry at Glory Days, shift ended early because Boss is sick and my collar is up – the rain’s coming down in sheets.
There are eight of them, walking real close.
It’s dark at 4:30pm, the sun setting behind the tenement buildings off King Edward. The Shriners are walking towards the Army/Navy/Airforce #237, otherwise known as the Legion.
I guess it makes sense. They must have a meeting. “Hi everyone, my name’s Rick and I’m a Shriner.” “Hi Rick.”
I haven’t been to the Legion for years, ever since they made it mandatory to buy an annual membership. I’ve heard they have a great karaoke night. I wonder when their next non-members night is? Shit, should watch where I’m going, almost ran into that guy.
Weird. The Shriners have stopped walking. What are they staring at?
Red hats in the rain. Faces in pain.
Now I’ve stopped walking. I’m watching them, watching me. I feel a pull, like the wind has wrapped weathered fingers around my lapels and is pulling me across the street.
Where was I going again?
The Shriners are staring. They’re smiling. Their eyes are red, red like pictures from a disposable camera.
I look down and I am floating across the street.
This is strange. I don’t feel scared. Is this normal?
I didn’t know you could float.
Hello. Welcome. Welcome
The Shriners greet me as I float closer.
Yes yes welcome. Join us? We are almost at the meeting place.
An old woman grabs me by the hand, her wrinkles soft, her skin giving way beneath my fingers like seaweed caught in the tide.
It’s not far, not far.
They lead me, still floating, quicker now, to the Legion. We walk to the right and to the alley, the dark very dark indeed.
We’re so glad so glad you can join us.
The rain parts and we walk into the alley, the rain steaming off their shoulders. They set me down and surround me.
I’m not scared. I look up into the sheeting rain.
They take off their hats and close the circle.