Bad Moon Rising (Halloween Hallow)
There is something about Halloween that conjures a deep yearning for the saccharinity of childhood. The smell of damp leaves that have fallen leaving the once lush trees barren only accentuates the urge to look back. As a candy-craving tot (and as an adult), I loved and looked forward to dressing up for All Saint’s Eve. My earliest memory is rushing straight home to stuff myself inside a hot as the Hades of Hell plastic Dingbat costume, complete with a suffocating mask. My parents thought it better for me to sweat bullets while trick or treating than to come home with a face full of smeared make-up. Less mess for them I guess, never mind my almost dropping dead in a ditch from heat stroke in the height of October. Dummies. What am I saying? I probably begged them for the costume. It is possible that it was on sale so cost was a determining factor thanks to frugal Father Mine, or it was the only one that would fit me. Take your pick. Memory is a funny thing.
Halloween belonged to me and Way Cooler Big Sister. Even though she was probably too old to trick or treat, she was responsible for taking me around the neighborhood. My Mother entrusted her with her overzealous youngest, it was more like a chaperone deal for her, but for me, it was thrilling to go running all over Cow Bay with her, alone without adult supervision. I always felt like I was getting away with murder. Pardon the pun. Without fail, no matter my costume, Way Cooler Big Sister always dressed as a bum. She fashioned her last minute disguise from old clothes, towels, and bed sheets; smeared her face with gunk and pulled a nubby winter hat down over her ears. When I was Ding Bat, when I was a pirate, when I was a punk rocker – her? A bum. One year, to the delight of My Mother, I went as a bum too. Zero dollars spent!
It was the same every year. Come home from school, practically vibrating with excitement. I’d come through the side door and Way Cooler Big Sister would have newspaper spread all over the kitchen table for pumpkin carving, such a gloriously ghoulish ritual. We’d spend a little time dragging the nub of pencils into the orange flesh to create our designs and then she’d cut a top on each and we’d start cleaning. The gooey pumpkin guts felt cold and criminal squishing through our fingers. We cackled our way through every disembowelled pumpkin we incised. Once our pumpkins were finished it was time to eat. My Mother would always make something quick and easy on the day, Kraft Dinner to share, tomato soup and grilled cheese, something we could gobble down in a hurry. It was hard to sit still at the table, waiting for my supper, I was always so anxious to get dressed up. Way Cooler Big Sister and I shared the massive and brightly lit bathroom mirror while we readied ourselves. Her reflection was heads taller than mine but I gleefully stood beside her and put myself together, watching her transform herself into the same boring old bum from the year before. No matter, I loved that tradition. We’d stop for parental inspection, pose for a picture, grab our pillow cases, and head off for the main event – junk!
Walking to the first stretch of houses she reminded me to watch out for eggs. Back then, you had to be on guard for cars speeding by hurling warm eggs at random candy-seekers. Luckily, we were never struck and thank flaming Beelzebub we didn’t because she would have gone bat shit on their asses. She pretty much knew every hooligan in town. That might have saved us. Back then, when you knocked on a neighbor’s door a morsel if you didn’t say trick or treat you got diddley squat until did. By the end of the night, we were sick to death of uttering the phrase but we pillaged the whole bay stretch until our cases were so heavy you’d think we were dragging a dead body behind us. I’d usually get weary on the way back home and plead with the Village Hobo to carry my bounty. She’d refuse until I agitated her enough. I was always relieved when she grabbed the pillow case from my weakling arms. Her huffing and puffing in annoyance all the way home was worth it.
The best part of Halloween isn’t even the long arduous task of collecting the treats but getting home, scarily flushed, stripping out of your costume, and collectively dumping our loot, spread all over the living-room floor. We’d sit cross-legged and assess our sugary glut and trade each other for favorites. I traded her licorice for Tootsie Rolls. My Mother hovered hoping to score a few candy bars. I always gave her my caramels much to Way Cooler Big Sister’s dismay. Once I got a full size Mars bar and I gave it to her. One year while organizing our stuff I popped a candy kiss in my mouth. It was so tough and gooey that it sucked a loose tooth right up out of my gum. I could feel the air hit the empty pocket and fill with saliva. It scared the living daylights out of me so naturally I swore. My Mother was not pleased. Way Cooler Big Sister joked and asked me how I planned get money from the tooth fairy if it was stuck in a wad of candy. I told her easy, I’d just set it on my night table. She shook her head and told me if it wasn’t under my pillow I wouldn’t get any money. Me, the gullible goblin, thought long and hard for a second and then proceeded to nibble all the candy from around the tooth. She busted out laughing and stopped me. She said she was just kidding, “And by the way, there’s no such thing as the Tooth Fairy.” Evil Sorcerer. It is bad enough she took Santa and the Easter Bunny from me, she couldn’t leave me the Tooth Fairy!? Happy friggin’ Halloween.
And, without fail, once we were tucked in good and tight, tummies aching from one too many samples of our rampage, she’d relay the story about the Ouija board. The same Ouija board they all hid in the furnace room from Father Mine who despised them and would brain anyone stowing one away in any house of his. I used to hide in there now and then if I got myself in a bit of hot water. I’d see it there, out of the corner of my eye, in its dilapidated box with the broken corners, daring me to come closer. No friggin’ way. Not after what happened the time Way Cooler Big Sister and Rock Star Brother brazenly used it to summon the dead.
They were in our basement in Cow Bay, sitting in the middle of the floor near the pool table. Way Cooler Sister said the room was dim and quiet when the each placed their trembling fingers on the heart-shaped wooded planchette. Way Cooler Big Sister said Rock Star Brother was terrified of becoming possessed by a demon but was curious enough to risk it. Supposedly, they asked a series of questions and the planchette moved under their fingers to signify yes or no answers. And then, according to Myers Family Lore, the two small basement windows lit up with violent flames and the face of a burning girl appeared. Way Cooler Sister said it scared the living shit out of them. They packed it up like bats out of hell, put it back in the furnace room where they found it, and never spoke of it again. I know for certain Way Cooler Big Sister carried a belief and a fascination for such things but I don’t know if Rock Star Brother does. Even after the experience he had in the living-room late one night.
Rock Star Brother, while still hanging at home, came home late from a gig. He took a beer into the living-room with him, sat down in the rocking chair next to the bay window, turned on the TV to unwind before sleep. Staring aimlessly at the TV, it took him a minute to realize the curtains had started blowing up and almost straight out by where he was lounging. He moved to go shut the window and then froze. Our bay window back then didn’t open. There was no air source to lift the curtains in such a way, no vent, heater, nothing. In a jolt of holy shit and disbelief, he powered everything down and put himself to bed. I bet you ten bucks if you asked him about it now, he either wouldn’t remember or admit it happened if it did. He almost shit his pants. I remember him re-telling it like it was yesterday, the wide of his eyes, talking with his hands. Way Cooler Big Sister asked him if the window was on fire. He cut his eyes at her, the expression spoke louder than words. She laughed and laughed and laughed.
Since Halloween is tomorrow, I thought I’d use it as an excuse to spin another little tale for my creative non-fiction project. I miss Kelly at Halloween. She decorated and loved passing out treats to the kids and often mingled with the neighbors. Save my kids, as in the ones I look forward to, I hate passing out candy. I can’t explain why but it has never been my thing and I didn’t have to worry so much about it because she was down at the door willingly. Hannah will be here tomorrow so I told her if she’s staying the night, she was in charge of passing out the treats except for my favorite Littles.
Stay safe this Halloween. It’s supposed to rain in this region but I hope it is a mere drizzle at least for the kids.