I would have to say it started around noon, when I woke up. Coffee in hand, my wife began talking about the morning she had experienced. Short car line to drop off the kids, perfect temperature coffee, and her cold was gone when she woke up that day.
I began to notice the light coming in the window seemed brighter and the dogs at my feet seemed more alive and exuberant than they had been since they were puppies.
All day things seemed blessed, almost magical. Perfect weather, delicious dinner. It was the sort of day where every flip of the coin lands on heads. There was a sweet flavor in the air. A ring almost like the song of a crystal glass. That night I tucked my littles to bed, said goodnight to my wife, and down I went to the office that had been beckoning me all day.
I wrote feverishly, wondrous adventures and miraculous pages. It was the kind of night writers dream about, and at three in the morning when I went back upstairs to get a snack, I heard clear and strong three raps against my front door.
I was instantly hit with the notion that it seemed odd the knocking had not stirred my dogs to a racket. But I walked to the door and threw it open. On my dark porch stood no one. No sign as to any thing that could have created a rapping or any sound at all. I began to turn back into my house when a gust of wild wind blew in my door, tossing leaves and twigs in with it, and with a blinding explosion, a strike of lightning hit my front porch. When I stepped back and my eyes recovered, there he stood.
He was a very tall, thin man with an oiled black beard that dropped to a sharp point off his chin and a great mustache that swept across both cheeks. Long blond hair run through with gray fell past his shoulders. His skin was tan and creased over and again like an eternal traveler’s favorite satchel.
When he smiled, his teeth were startling white and perfect. A scent rolled around him quite like tobacco and pomade. He wore a crimson waistcoat with yellow pin striped pants and highly polished boots. His head was graced with a purple top hat, and in one hand he carried a parasol the color of gold.
Without invite he stepped into my house, shaking rain from his umbrella as if he had just stepped out of a storm. He looked at me and smiled and said, “Please excuse, it is always raining in Belper this time of year.”
He took off his hat, dropped to a low bow and looked up at me with his devilish grin and said, “I’m FlimFlam. I’ve come to collect you.”
I stepped back, too astonished to retort, when he chuckled to himself and said, “For my sale, dear boy. I’m sure you have heard of my carnival the worlds-famous Mystical Shoppe of Arcane Tomes.”
I began to shake my head in denial when at the back of my mind I felt a tickle. A bit of a tingle as if hearing a thing spoken out into the air that had only been said in a dream. I realized he was talking again and fought to focus on what he might be saying.
“I’ve come from far away to offer you a spot in my sale of sales. Oh boy,” he said. “Oh boy, you won’t want to miss this wondrous opportunity. I am gathering like-minded writers, the odd and twisted creators of dark and glorious tales and will offer those tales to the world at stupendous prices.
“So far I’ve gathered a Lover of Cake from Scotland, a Dual Wielding rogue from Australia, and a Gentleman from the Blistering Cold Tundra of Canada. I come now from Britain, where I have roused a Pirate, and am on my way to California from here. I offer you a place among the talented and dark. What do you say?”
Well, what could I say? A chance to be included in such company does not coming rapping at my door often, so I agreed.
“Wonderful, dear boy, just wonderful. I am off now to gather the Darkling Queen to make my collection complete.”
With a wink, and a tip of his hat, he stepped out my door, and with a shocking blast of lightning and a peal of thunder, the man was gone as quickly as he had come.
My wife came around the corner in her robe, rubbing her eyes, and said to me, “Jesse, what was that?”
I honestly could not tell her.