As I watch children scurry by my iron gate, I recall how I started doing the same thing when I was their age, nine, maybe ten, hurrying past this same house, pumped full of Halloween sugar, ready to jump out of my skin at any unexpected sight or sound.
At thirteen I summoned up the courage to open the creaking gate – rusty even back then – and knocked on the door, my pals cowering in the shadows. Their loss. The old crone who drew it open seemed pleased to see a brave young fellow coming to call. She put out her hand and, before I could grasp it, a dove fluttered from her gnarled palm. I stumbled backward as the bird flew up the stairwell, then perched on the banister.