In some houses built in the 1930's, there is a mail slot, in an otherwise strong front door, made of sturdy thick oak panels.

Nowadays, everyone wants a steel door, or at least a steel-clad door, some are so paranoid as to insist that there be no "front door" at all, but everyone should emerge through the kitchen. But this was one of these.

I was engaged in certain studies in the days following the Age of Greed, that is the late Nineteen Eighties, and the more I try to recount them, the more downright gothic it got: I lived in the home of my dead grandmother, reading tomes of math, odd bits and pieces of Medieval Literature, and science fiction, every evening until it was light. Often I'd listen to the local college stations, which tended towards playing free-form jazz, oddments of classical, the more extreme punk, new wave, and art rock, mostly stoned out of my gourd. My only companion was a cat, Elephi Pelephi, whom I'd named for a semi-famous shop cat from Greenwich Village in the early 60's, a Hemingway with a fine suit of formal clothes. Oh, yes, and did I mention that the house was haunted, according to my mother? Uh-huh. And my grandmother had just died.

In other words, I was in the right state to replicate The Raven, or any halfway-Poelike was about 3AM, and I hear the knock.

Look, it doesn't sound like a human knock, somehow, and my blood is running cold. Most people know me as the town witch, anyway. Is it the cops, the just-dumb-enough-to-think-I'm killing children family a few houses down, or what?

I screw my courage to the sticking place and walk over to the door.

"Hi, Elephi!"