Franklin Street, Brooklyn

Illustration: Forsyth Harmon

Two a.m. in New York on the Saturday night before Halloween is its own kind of witching hour. Or rather, an un-witching hour — the time when the spells begin to get loose and wonky and broken. The moment of the night when, drunk and tired, we fall asleep on the subway and lose our Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde berets, or ditch our hot and itching wigs, or shed our cardboard scissorhands, and our one-night-only alter-egos begin to fall away. The streets were strewn with little pieces of costume. I, Courtney Love, was walking home holding my high-heeled boots — feet too sore now for them now — when Kurt Cobain beside me, wig in hand, so not so Kurt any more really — spotted you and went, what the… A night of subways full of strangers in their conjured, conscious, home-made strangeness, but you were the last and strangest of all.

Earlier, Catherine Linton from Wuthering Heights (specific!) had asked me whether I had a tampon. I’d only just met her and her friend Kate Bush and I was flattered; it seemed like one of those quietly radical acts of everyday sisterhood, to ask this of a woman you’d just met. I patted my pockets and lamented I didn’t, and began to look in my bag too, but Catherine Linton, in her red velvet, looked confused and stopped me. No, she said. She meant as Courtney. (I’d forgotten I was Courtney.) Catherine Linton reminded me of the legend of a used tampon flung into the crowd. I did not have a fake used tampon and Kurt did not have a fake gunshot wound. We were bloodless, in every sense. I mean, how far should you go? In your case, though, you’d gone all the way.

“Shall we go have a look?” kind-of-Kurt said and we ventured towards you, hand in hand like children, to have a little gawp. As we approached, it didn’t even occur to me that you might be able to communicate with us, that’s how odd the sight of you was. I had to remind myself that there was a human being inside you. I thought of of tiny, pigtailed Drew Barrymore, talking to the big-eyed alien in the closet between takes, Spielberg maintaining his reality for her. What I mean is, you made me feel like child-Drew, only too awed to even talk. You weren’t a football-headed alien and honestly, I don’t know what you were. But I can say this: that you were seven and a half feet tall and shaggier than Chewbacca and had orifices — sorry, there is no other word — down your front. You looked primitive and primordial, like something an exceptionally powerful shaman might summon. You were a wild thing, but in an ancient, rather than Sendakian way. But here you were, just standing there, vast and hairy and unmoving, on the street with your mates outside a bar.

Your mates: I don’t know what they were either, but I suspected I hadn’t watched the relevant TV shows and superhero blockbusters. I knew there was a show called “Stranger Things,” that people cared about, and that it produced Halloween costumes that didn’t look strange at all. Maybe you were surrounded by “Stranger Things.” But how did you, yeti-thing, strange beast, strangest thing of all, end up among this lot? We lingered for a moment; I wasn’t even sure if you could see us, because, where were your eyes? I didn’t say anything and then we wandered on. Because even at three a.m. on the Saturday night before Halloween, the one question — what are you? — seemed too blunt.