Thanksgiving Day has nearly arrived at the MARSCAPONE HOUSE on CHURCH STREET in Astoria. Just a few short years ago, the sorceress MYRTLE SOO married the lawyer VINCENT MARSCAPONE and the two settled at a home in Queens. The neighborhood is quiet and suburban, though in the distance an elevated train can be heard clamoring over the tracks.
VINCENT bears a serious injury and is unable to walk without assistance. To the uninformed, it appears that he’s suffered from the poliovirus. Only his closest associates know the truth. Generally, he keeps to himself, shutting himself up in his study much of the day surrounded by piles of legal papers and law references.
Each evening, his wife joins him for a few hours before she retires to her bedroom.
Tonight, she knocks on the door.
MAY I COME IN?
His voice is clear but slightly muffled. The two repeat this courtship each evening.
When MYRTLE enters the study, the first thing she does is survey the room. Leaning against his desk is his favorite cane.
VINCENT sits in a wheelchair, looking out the darkened window, thick velvet curtains pushed aside. Candles set the room in an amber glow. Bookshelves line the walls like paper and the whole room is thick with the smell of ink.
In MYRTLE’s hand is the newspaper. Though the newspaper was delivered early each morning, she would retrieve it and wait to read it with her husband each evening.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON TONIGHT?
VINCENT made a living by drawing up contracts and providing consultation.
NOTHING AT THE MOMENT.
TONIGHT I AM FINALIZING A WILL FOR A KIND OLD WOMAN.
SHE’S NO LIVING CHILDREN.
GIVING ALL OF WHAT SHE HAS TO THE CHURCH.
THAT’S KIND OF HER.
DREADFULLY TRAGIC THAT SHE’S NO CHILDREN.
IT IS, ISN’T IT.
The couple sit in silence. MYRTLE picks up the candle from VINCENT’s desk and uses it to light her own, sitting on a small table in the corner of the room. She sits in the chair and opens the newspaper.
I THOUGHT YOU DIDN’T WANT CHILDREN.
WHAT BOY WISHES A CRIPPLE FOR A FATHER?
PERHAPS WE’D HAVE A GIRL.
BUT MY CONCERN STILL STANDS.
I’M HARDLY ABLE TO KEEP UP WITH MY WORK, LET ALONE THROW BASEBALLS.
I WARNED YOU MANY YEARS AGO.
IF YOU HAD WANTED CHILDREN, YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN RICHARD’S HAND.
MYRTLE had previously maintained a tender friendship with a young man she’d known since childhood. She’d had a number of reasons to refuse the proposal; but it had left the boy broken-hearted.
BUT I DIDN’T LOVE HIM AS I LOVED YOU.
DIDN’T, OR DON’T?
AS IT SO OFTEN IS WITH THOSE WITH WHOM WE KNOW AS CHILDREN.
THEY ARE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
BUT TO WHOM AMONG US DO WE DELIVER THE CRUELEST INSULTS?
I DID NOT INTEND TO BE CRUEL TO HIM.
I HAD JUST RECENTLY MET YOU AND I FOUND MYSELF SMITTEN.
AS I, WITH YOU.
BUT IF YOU ARE SO SMITTEN, WHY DO YOU COME HERE BEARING SUCH A BARB?
It did not feel sincere, the whole thing, but she had let her words get away from her.
OH, VINCENT, I DIDN’T MEAN IT.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING SOMETIMES.
YOUR COMPANY IS WORTH A HUNDRED CHILDREN.
A HUNDRED CHILDREN? GOD HELP US ALL.
He chuckles, just perceptably, trying to lighten the mood.
PERHAPS ONE DAY, I’LL TAKE AN APPRENTICE.
HE MAY VERY WELL BE LIKE A SON TO US.
MYRTLE flips the newspaper’s page.
OR PERHAPS I’LL DO THE YOUNG RICHARD A MERCY AND ALLOW YOU TO MARRY HIM AS WELL.
MYRTLE folds down her paper to glare at him. He has a sly grin on his face.
MARRY HIM AS WELL, DEAR WIFE.
I AM JUST SO ENAMORED WITH YOU THAT I SHALL NOT LET YOU OUT OF MY SIGHT FOR EVEN A MOMENT.
PERHAPS HE WILL GIFT YOU A DAUGHTER.
I DO NOT WANT A DAUGHTER.
YOU DON’T, DO YOU?
SO CAPRICIOUS, YOUR KIND.
MYRTLE did not like it when he used this phrase. Could he simply be making a joke against her sex? She had never told him of her Talent and she intended to keep it that way. His coy manner of speaking seemed to imply his suspicions. But how could they? She’d kept it from everyone else well enough.
Her father had gone to his grave none-the-wiser that his only daughter was, in fact, a Witch.
I DO NOT WANT A DAUGHTER.
AND A SON?
I DO NOT WANT A SON.
THEN WHAT ARE WE ARGUING ABOUT?
YOU’RE IN A MOOD!
I'M IN A MOOD?
I’D SAY IT’S YOU WHO’S IN A MOOD.
WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?
She did, in fact, want something.
I WANT TO ATTEND TOMORROW’S PARADE.
ON THANKSGIVING DAY?
ON THANKSGIVING DAY.
MACY’S IS SPONSORING A PARADE.
A PARADE TOMORROW?
AND WHAT OF THE CHILDREN?
I DON’T CARE FOR RAGAMUFFIN DAY.
IT’S… IT’S IMPROPER FOR THE CHILDREN TO POKE FUN AT BEGGARS.
THEY DON’T ALL DRESS AS THE INDIGENT.
IT’S NOT JUST WHAT THEY DRESS AS.
IT’S THE WHOLE ACT OF GOING FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE…
But of course, by his melacholic expression, MYRTLE saw that the masquerade of costumed children was the part VINCENT appreciated. He was mostly housebound despite being able to get around slowly with the help of a cane.
The two had recently been developing a habit of disagreeing with each other. But it mostly left MYRTLE feeling as if she’d eaten her own foot.
WHY SHOULD IT BOTHER ME IF YOU’D LIKE TO ATTEND THE PARADE?
IS MISTER R. H. MACY CHARGING ADMISSION?
WELL, NO. I DON’T THINK SO.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME?
IN MY CONDITION? NO.
I APPRECIATE THE INVITATION, BUT I DO NOT THINK SO.
I’LL STAY BACK AND WELCOME THE BEGGARS.