Just in time for Halloween, Madeline Ashby’s “You Are Cordially Invited to an Evening of Horror at the Secret Hills Golf and Country Club,” will cap off spooky season in the best and most hospitable of ways. ~ Julian and Fran, October 30, 2022.
“You Are Cordially Invited to an Evening of Horror at the Secret Hills Golf and Country Club”
By Madeline Ashby
The Secret Hills Golf and Country Club appeared at the end of a long and winding drive whose turns occasionally narrowed to choke points that squeezed the cars so close, Marcia could smell the cigarettes in their ashtrays. Since the club was private property on unincorporated land, the rules determining the width of the asphalt were more like preferences than anything else. On a night like tonight, when there was a crowd, it meant a slow red flow of taillights bleeding out of the roughs and fairways.
“You’re driving back,” she said.
“Ten-four,” Daryl said.
“And if you have to hang back to have one more coffee with Bud or Slim just to sober up, I’m getting a ride with someone else. I’m not staying until three in the morning, like last year.”
“That wasn’t last year; it was two years ago. And it wasn’t Halloween; it was the Christmas party.”
Marcia ashed outside the window. “I just want to be home when Clover gets home.”
He reached over and squeezed her knee. His hand stayed there. She hadn’t realized how cold she was until the warmth of his skin pushed itself against hers. “We will be. Don’t worry.”
Daryl was going as the King, all in yellow, with a gold lamé cape that matched his huge sunglasses. He caught it in the car door after they sidled into one of the last available parking spaces. They were late. The sun was almost down. But Elvis hair had taken Daryl a full hour, and perfecting his impressions in the bedroom mirror had taken even longer.
Marcia was going as a fortune teller. Technically she should have gone as Priscilla Presley or Ann-Margaret or even Nancy Sinatra. The club awarded extra points for couples’ costumes. But she’d had to take Clover for her B12 and iron shots that weekend. Clover had fumed the whole way there and back, because driving to the next town over burned up her Saturday, when she and her girlfriends were supposed to be shopping for their own Halloween costumes.
I’ll have to go as a ghost, she complained. It’s corny.
Go as a black cat, Marcia had advised. You still have that black leotard from dance class, and those black tights and leg warmers. And those black stage shoes, the ones that don’t make any noise.
The wind kicked up as they made their way to the broad oak doors of the country club. Leaves skittered across the parking lot. Soon the trees would be made anonymous by the night. At the door, while some new kid from the next town took her coat and gave Daryl a number, Marcia turned to watch the dusk falling. She memorized their car’s position in the lot. Maybe it had been a mistake to ask Daryl to drive them back. She could find the car faster, start it faster, get them on the road faster.
“Mar,” he said, with a hand at her elbow. “It’s time.”
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