Welcome to my house! Enter freely. It’s good that you came; I’m glad you did. I apologize for not having you over sooner. You must have thought of me as rude or standoffish, but I promise you, I am neither. I just wanted to have everything in order before meeting my new neighbors. You see, I am a man of particular taste, and I will not rest until I have everything I want, the way I want it.
What’s that? You brought wine? For me? Oh, well then! Myself, I do not partake in aqua vitae, but please, it would bring me great satisfaction if you indulged. Let me find some glasses. No, really, I insist. Good! Drink up. Enjoy.
So, what brings me here, you ask? Well, this community of yours, I found it irresistibly…charming. It’s no secret, we’re up there in years, and I’ve long been in search of a place where I can permanently lay down roots. I traveled frequently in my younger days, living in some of the finest cities the globe has to offer: Bucharest and London, Saint Petersburg and Munich; I even spent a considerable time in New England, Boston and Maine. I sure loved Maine. Have you ever been?
I see you’ve noticed the photographs over the mantle. They’re entrancing, aren’t they? Really fine pictures. Oh, no, they’re not my family. I’ve lived the life of a bachelor, for better or for worse. Those have just come into my possession over time.
Please, eat. There’s plenty of food. I, myself, had a late lunch, but don’t let that stop you. Go ahead. I ordered from the delicatessen in town. I read rave reviews online. And look, your glasses are empty. Let me refill them.
Ah, so many questions about me, I promise you, I am hardly as interesting as you are making me out to be. I spent my life working in the fine arts, consulting on appraisals mostly, but from time to time I traded and sold pieces at auction. That’s what allowed me to travel, and to bring home some of these beautiful pieces. I like to think I have an eye for the finer things in life. So much of life is spent in dormancy, waiting for the next trip, the next adventure, the next hunt, that we lose track of the here and now. We might as well punctuate that time with beauty, no? The sofa on which you’re sitting, it’s from Paris—before the Revolution; the end table in the corner, it’s Hungarian, Magyar to be exact; and the masks over there? They’re my favorite of all. These belonged to the Mitsogo Tribe in Central Africa. Did you know that they believed that their ancestors—if they were strong enough—could exert influence in this world long after their death? Yes, it’s very interesting.
Now, now, don’t be alarmed. That’s just Demetri. He’s plenty well-behaved. You’re close, but he’s only half German Shepherd. Demetri here is a Saarloos Wolfdog, which is a German Shepherd crossed with a wolf, in this case, one directly from the Carpathians. That’s why you didn’t hear him; he’s stealthy, light on his paws. It’s a quality that makes him a great hunter. Relax, don’t worry, he’s only curious. It’s been so long since we’ve been around this many people, you will excuse his excitement, yes?
What’s that? Leaving already? I suppose it is getting late, but I hate to see you go. We were just beginning to have some fun. I understand, though, and you don’t have to worry about hurting my feelings. No offense taken! Perhaps on the next occasion our gathering will take place at your home? I would like that very much. All you must do is invite me, and I’ll be there.
I forgot to mention when you arrived, but that is a handsome jacket. United States
Marine Corps. You know I was a military man myself, back in Europe. I never did care much for water, but I have a strong admiration for fellow warriors.
Right then, thank you for coming. It was really my pleasure. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring.
Tyler Norton is a horror writer from Upstate New York. His work has previously appeared in The Arcanist, Hallowzine, and Home, an anthology by Ghost Orchid Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @tywritesthings or Instagram at @tylerwritesthings. Visit his website: https://tylerwritesthings.com/