SHORT STORY REVIEW ROBERT BLOCH – THE CLOAK. In THE OPENER OF THE WAY 1945
One of Psycho author, Robert Bloch’s earliest published stories – a dark little tale about Henderson, a man invited to a high society Halloween fancy dress party. He decides to go as a monster, as he suspects most guests will just go for expensive, elegant and sophisticated wear.
Looking around for a suitable outfit, and running out of time to find something suitably monstrous, he stumbles upon a strange shop in a quiet back street where the suitably sinister proprietor recommends to him that he takes out a simple, traditional vampire’s cloak which the shop has in store.
Henderson tries the cloak on and finds that it transforms him physically into a vampire like entity. He takes the cloak, and ears it to the party, even scaring the cab driver who takes him to the event.
At the party, the guests are very disturbed by his presence rather than taken to him with any warmth. Worse, Henderson appears to be invisible in mirrors. He assumes this is just down to having too much to drink. When another drunk teases him, Henderson bites the man and genuinely draws blood, which the guests find amusing, but the host of the party is disturbed.
Only one guest appreciates his costume, a girl dressed as an angel. Their relationship is disturbed by a news report of a fire in a fancy dress hire shop where people burnt to death, but their cloaks did not. The host suspects Henderson of being involved in the strange incident as he has such a cloak on, and he orders him to leave the house. Henderson goes off, taking the angel with him, but she bites his throat out – she really is a fully-fledged vampire.
An inventive, cleverly contrived tall tale.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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