Neither a Trick Nor a Treat
On Halloween night, my kids and I approached the final target in our forty-house candy shake-down. Their goal was to get one last treat, mine was to be friendly with the neighbor. Earlier that night in a courtyard, teenagers dressed as zombies over-acted their parts, moaning and holding their wrists up high with hands flopped down. They chased the Trick-or-Treaters, making some of the younger kids suddenly ask their parents if they could go home. This was the height of scariness for the evening, or so I thought.
The quest for one last treat turned into a true scare. I walked my masked Skeleton Guy and my Tigress up the driveway of the biggest house in our neighborhood, which spans a full six lots. The bright porch light shone from behind the owner's hunched shoulders, obscuring his face in darkness. He wasn't dressed in a white bathrobe — his usual outdoor attire. The old man did not respond when my kids said "Trick or Treat?" but due to his age and curmudgeonly reputation, I didn't think much of the non-response. He hadn't bothered with a bowl like our other neighbors, but had bought a bag of candy which he patiently held open. As the kids slowly made their selections, I watched the candy bag begin to shake in his hand.
A few moments later, I started to think our neighbor - in a shirtwith an upturned collar that could have been part of a vampire costume- was putting on a little ghoul show for the kids. He began to jerk and hunch like the teenagers who'd turned their courtyard into ahaunted house. A Halloween ham, I thought. But, then things got scaryin a very real, not Halloween way. He said, "I'm going to fall."
"Are you acting?" I asked, fully convinced by the shirt, lighting, and body movements.
"No, I'm going to fall." he repeated.
I still couldn't see his face, but I began to believe him at that point, so I grabbed his arm, letting him put his weight on me. Down he went, in a very controlled way. First to his knee, then seated, then, while I was still holding him firmly, he fell back until he was lying down on his stone porch. Suddenly, the nice old man who gave us candy might have created the scariest Halloween display in the neighborhood. He might have just died.Continued on the next page