Please come in. This is the place, the one you have been searching for all these years, night after night, sleeping and waking, in the streets and alleys of distant cities, in the country of your dreams and the country of your wakefulness, and now you have found us at last, how happy you must be! So step right inside and don’t be afraid, or rather, be afraid, be very, very afraid for this is it, the one and only, the real thing and no common imitation, le Cabaret de la Peur. We have a table waiting, just for you. Look, your name is on the little pink reservation card. Please, sit down, make yourself comfortable. A glass of champagne? I think you’ll find 1961 was a very good year. See anyone you recognise? That’s funny, they all seem to recognise you. Of course, they knew you’d be here tonight. Word gets around, of course it does. There are many more of them waiting just behind that curtain. Another glass of champagne? Why, of course. Yes, your mother and your father are here. The quick and the dead are here. The two-headed boy is here. The girl with the removable heart is also here – surely you remember her? What’s that you say? Her face looks familiar but you can’t place it? Perhaps this will refresh your memory. Looks like you, doesn’t it? Yes, you looked like that once. A long time ago, you say? Not so long ago as all that, you did indeed look exactly like that. Didn’t you? Don’t try to deny yourself, we know who you are. Everybody here knows who you are. You thought by changing your name you’d put us off the track, but it’s not that easy. You thought with that cheap plastic surgery you had done on the sly in Morocco to put us off the track, but you see it hasn’t worked, we recognised you the moment you walked in the door. We’ve been waiting for you such a long time. Now the show can begin.
Grace Andreacchi - American-born novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Elysian Sonnets. Managing editor at Andromache Books.