One sunny Saturday morning, I got the idea to go back to my old neighborhood, 92nd Street in Jackson Heights, for a while, just to see what it’s like now. I also really wanted to visit St. Gabriel’s five blocks away in East Elmhurst. When I first got into my car, it was the perfect day, with sunshine and clear skies. Unfortunately, though, that didn’t last. By the time I got to Astoria Boulevard, about an hour after I first left, the sky became very dark and it began to rain terribly. On my way from 92nd Street to St. Gabriel’s I decided to pull over and to park for a while on Astoria Boulevard. In order to pass the time until the weather conditions improved I walked into the first store I noticed. It was a dark, forlorn looking antique store, filled with quite a collection of artifacts, books and mounds of what appeared to be decades-old dust. I was so happy simply to be inside someplace, safe from the bad weather, that I didn’t mind taking a chance on staying inside for a while. After a few minutes, I rang the bell on the desk, hoping to get some service. A large, gaunt, very old man, dressed entirely in black and grey, came out of the back room and asked me what I wanted. He introduced himself as Igor and explained that he and his wife, Olga, were the owners. His glassy-eyed fixed stare and weak voice gave the impression that he was very ill. He asked where I was from. I told him that although I’m now living in Long Beach, I was a neighborhood kid, having lived on 92nd Street long ago. The more I looked around the old place, the more I got the idea that I appeared to have wandered into another world entirely. It was one big cliche, something from an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” or “The Twilight Zone”. He gave me a tour of the establishment, even taking me down the long winding stairs to the cellar, explaining that that was where the couple kept all their supplies and records. I couldn’t help noticing how cold, damp and musty it was down there. Although it was quite a genuinely seriously terrifying experience I kept trying to convince myself that no real harm could possibly come to me. I wondered when would the predictable plot twists kick in? Maybe he’d try to sell me some obscure artifact that would grant me three wishes-or would some long lost ghost appear from beyond the grave? Eventually I was able to conclude that the fellow was merely a harmless eccentric old gentleman, no more threatening to my well being than anyone. After a few hours we passed a window, through which I noticed that the weather had gotten very much nicer, with sunshine in a cloudless sky. I politely excused myself and explained to the old fellow that I was in a hurry and that I wanted to take advantage of my chance to visit St. Gabriel’s. We bade each other good-bye in quite a gentlemanly fashion. I took a brief walk over to my old parish, relieved finally to be able to enjoy an afternoon in one of my favorite places. Perhaps, though, that brief detour through such a tense unwelcoming environment can serve as a warning to me that certain things from the past must never again be referred to.