It was a crisp fall and as per usual fair I was excited about one of my most favorite holidays of the year; Halloween. This was an excuse to go door to door all night with my best friend and one of my parents. This was an excuse for us to go to the house on the corner where an elderly couple lived so we could not only brighten their day, but also manage to impress them so much they would always give us the largest Payday or Butterfinger candy bar they had. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the couple actually only bought those candy bars for us and left the “fun-size” for everyone else.
Regardless, this was the one night of the year where we were bound and determined to stock up on candy which would last us for at least a few months until Easter.
This year I was determined to not rely on the constant stash of older clothes my parents had saved from their teenage years to make my costume. I wanted to reinvent how I did Halloween. No longer would I dress as a Hobo, a sleepy Housewife or a Spanish Señorita. I wanted to create something.
When we went to the library that week I booked it to the kids section to check out their “how to” books for kids wanting to make their own costume. There amongst the Garfield books and other books I can’t remember due to my tunnel vision mission, stood a book. It was a book full of cartoon illustrations; I spoke cartoon, it was a language with which I was fluent since the age of two.
Each page had a step by step way of making your costume from everyday household items and things you might already have. Suddenly my eyes landed upon the perfect costume. All I would need is a pair of sunglasses, a hat and two trash bags. I carried the book to the front of the library where we checked out the rest of the books and my head swirled with the fantasy of being able to tell everyone I made my costume from scratch.
Later in the week with the book laid on the floor before me, I laid out the two black trash bags I had procured from my parents. Armed with a pair of scissors I began to cut the bag in strips from the open end first and leaving the closed end at the top to not shred it too far, this is the part that would rest upon my head under the hat. During the hour spent making this costume I made sure to keep the Halloween spirit up by watching Disney’s Ichabod Crane cartoon. I had never been more thrilled. With each cut my costume came more and more to a fruition.
Halloween night had arrived and my best friend met up with me at the door. She always dressed as something cute or something fun. I on the other hand had to bundle up so my costumes always had to make room for extra layers. Luckily this costume had allowances for a winter coat. Little did I know later in the night there wouldn’t be a need for the coat. We were bustling with excitement at what the night would hold.
She, my Mother and myself went to the corner house owned by the elderly couple. At this point it was still day light so the sunglasses were a nice addition to the costume. I was covered head to knees in plastic with a black felt hat on top and…the winter coat. I was beginning to sweat. We collected our large candy bars from the smiling couple and made our way to the other end of the street.
By the time we had made it to the other end of the neighborhood it had quickly turned dark with a midnight blue sky and a bright moon shining down. The night had turned spooky. We walked through the yard up to the hazel blue house known for having a handful of children in it at any given time with one high school boy. As other trick or treaters made their way from the house, we were cautious on our way up the stairs as we had witnessed some commotion but unfortunate for me who wanted to stay true to my character could not see past the glasses or the plastic strips blocking my eyes. We clumsily went up the concrete steps, knocked on the door and received our fuel for this crazy tradition we call Halloween. Suddenly out of the pine tree to our right a large figure dressed in a blue jumpsuit and a hockey mask jumped at us letting out a fierce roar and grumble causing us to scream. Quickly we realized it was the high school boy who lived in the home. He had a good laugh and let us go on our way. This mildly rattled us, at least he had the decency to scare us in glow of the porch light instead of waiting for us to be in the dark.
Like the trick or treaters before us we made our way walking through the crunchy dry yard, tried to pretend our feet were not yet hurting, pretended we weren’t exhausted from being up way past our bedtime and pretended we didn’t just have the Reeses Pieces scared out of us.
No sooner than we had stepped off the curb to greet my Mother, a creepy, gnarly silhouette of a monster’s hand had barely touched my right shoulder causing me to scream at the highest frequency possible for a ten year old. My friend and I took off like lightning bolts. However, she wasn’t as scared as I was, her scream was noticeably an octave lower than mine. I had been running in circles, when by the time I rounded my second or third circle I realized she was not with me. She had stopped; she and my mom were just standing there laughing watching this happen. I was still running with the many plastic strips flailing behind me making a “fft fft fft fffffffft” noise with every bounce of my feet, pound of my heart and every scream an octave higher the more circles I ran. Nobody felt sorry for me, no one bothered to stop the chasing monster. Soon the monster chasing me gave up. The monster gave up not because it was tired but because it had to take its mask off to breathe after having laughed so hard it ran itself out of breath.
My heart was racing. All I managed to see was a silhouette of a junior high aged boy roaring with laughter toward the sky then doubling over in delight. None of us ever saw his face. Then confronting the monster in the fashion of someone trying to confront their fears I asked specifically if they were one of the boys who lived next door to me. At the time my best friend and I played basketball, football and baseball with almost all of the older boys in the neighborhood so in the short amount of time I had to question the monster, every answer was a no to each name I guessed to be him.
Honestly after that moment everything was a blur. Somehow all I remember is my friend making it safely back to her house because she was on the bus the following Monday and my Mom and I went back home to greet my Dad who stayed home to hand out candy to trick or treaters. I don’t remember the walk to my friend’s house or the walk home.
What I do remember is trying to figure out who this jerk was who ran us in circles. The following Monday on the bus ride home from school, I looked at the junior high boys quizzically. Finally I drew up enough nerve and asked the boy who lived two houses down. “Were you the one who scared us on Halloween?” He just looked at me and laughed. I couldn’t figure out if he was laughing because it was him, but assuming because he didn’t laugh as long as the kid who did scare us, it wasn’t him. He was just laughing at the idea of someone scaring all of the half eaten candy out of a couple of 5th graders.
Today the Fifth Grader Monster is still at large, we never caught him.
Have you ever been scared on Halloween? What practical joke has been played on you? Do you always feel like an easy target too?