The Worst Halloween

One fall, when I was about nine, I found myself exploring through one of those party stores that stock costumes all year round, and there it was. This cheap plastic hook with a bell-shaped cuff that hid your hand to make it look like it had been chopped off. That’s when I knew I was going to be to be a pirate for Halloween.

Understand, as a child, I was obsessed with pirates. I was into the other typical childhood things of the time; dinosaurs, Matchbox cars, Star Wars etc. But pirates were always cool. In movies, books, and games from swashbucklers, to scurvy dogs I was fascinated with all of them. One of my prized books as a child was a large slim book full of portraits and facts about the really famous pirates. One of my favorite video games ever was Sid Meyer’s Pirates, in which you got to sail the Caribbean as a privateer, plunder ships, duel with other sea captains and engage in other forms of skullduggery (There was an actual story line about rescuing lost members of your family from indentured servitude but frankly it didn’t seem that important my first couple times through.).

Halloween was still a ways off and I had to plead and whine at my dad to get it for me, but I convinced him.. We left the store with the hook and an eye-patch with a Jolly Roger on it. Then I had to wait.

From that moment all through October I chattered about my awesome costume. To my parents, my friends, to anyone who wouldn’t flee in terror from some overly enthused fourth grader, ceaselessly prattling about on about how cool it was going to be when he was a pirate. A striped shirt was acquired at some point. Some make-up crayons would be used to draw on a five-o’clock shadow, for that much-needed sea dog look. My dad was going to loan me one of his bandanna’s for my head. I spent weeks practicing my “aarghs” and “avasts”.

I was, to use the parlance of the time, totally stoked.

Then with less than a week to go, I did the unthinkable, the unforgivable. I struck my mother.

I don’t remember why. Probably some minor punishment for a petty transgression had set me into a fit of blind hot childish rage. Why wasn’t important. What was important is the fact that I hit her. Just like that it was all gone. I was grounded for a period of time that would encompass both my birthday and Halloween. I wailed, I screamed, I cried, and finally settled into moping. It was no use. Everything in my life had been ruined. Halloween, my favorite holiday gone. My awesome pirate costume, that had taken weeks to put together rendered useless.

I entered into a state of denial. Surely she couldn’t mean it. I mean she had to be bluffing, just to teach me a lesson. If I just am on my best behavior between now and Halloween I’d earn a reprieve right? May be I could barter my way out of it. Keep my room clean, take out the trash, maybe do the dishes every day for a week. There had to be some way.

There was a slender ray of hope when, the day before, on my birthday I was given presents. Clearly  if I had been still loved enough to have birthday presents, I would be allowed trick-or-treating. When I started talking about my costume, however, I was quickly reminded the there would be no such joy in my  life this year. Upon hearing this reaffirmation of my punishment the rest of my birthday took place in my room alternating between, sulking and sobbing with the occasional rage filled screaming fit.

I spent my Halloween that year either crying in my bedroom or sulking in my living room hiding behind the arm of the couch, staring in envious embarrassment as all of my friends from school, one by one showed up to ring the doorbell. Festooned in their holiday disguises and cheerfully yelling, “Trick-or-Treat!,” as my mother answered the door and patiently dropped pieces of delicious candy in their sacks and plastic orange jack-o-lantern shaped pails.

None of these costumes were as cool mine would have been.

The evening passed and the number of trick-or-treaters dwindled and finally Halloween was over. The hook and eye-patch got buried somewhere in the house, I never looked at them again. I don’t think I ever wore the shirt.

At some point I aged out of trick-or-treating. As I grew older my costumes for parties were always thrown together at the last-minute, or decided for me based on the need for a theme, or maintaining harmony in a relationship required a matching costume. Now a days, Halloween is about my own child’s experience, not mine. Plus, frankly, I don’t have much time, money, or energy to put into a costume for myself.

To this day though, I still feel  a bit of sadness and a little regret each year to remember that I never got to be a pirate.

Happy Halloween, and as always Happy Monday.

On That Hallowed Night

Based on a true story…

Sheltered from street view and behind the gate leads a path. To the old water oak, that tonight displays the sign of the hanged man; upside down, arms spread, insisting a choice be made. The paving stones to the house or up the hill back to the world.

Downward on the  path to the threshold a spiked necked mongrel stands guard. A token gift promises safe passage, one way at least. Mirrors in the vestibule shine back candlelight and shows faces adorned, and not quite real.

In the main hall, guests all sit, passive, their frozen faces painted in gruesome display, staring at the black robed man paces in the prison he has painted on the floor. Spiraling in towards the tome laid open on the floor. The last few are seated around. The lights are dimmed, leaving only candle flame and an odd glow from runes on the floor.

A harlequin in domino, visage of smiling death, bells tinkling, nods and the droning pipes begin. A low, steady rhythm that can be felt in the bones. From a dark corner the jinn motions his hands and draws unearthly percussive notes from the air, as if some invisible organ plays them. A rabbit faced woman begins to pluck the strings of her long necked and alien instrument. The flock inhales as one gaping mouth. The black clad magus begins to read aloud from his book of blasphemies.

His voice his raspy and unsteady, near stumbles through the words. Fearful of a misspoke syllable that might displease his host. Gaining speed and courage as the work flows through him, out of him and into the ears of this singular night. He finds the pace amidst the subtle changes of the pipers drone. His voice touches the notes of the composer and melody driven by the strings. Together they weave the call. From an open door the damp smell of new fog drifts in from the world outside. In his strange words he sings of the worlds both old and new. Intones things beyond his vision. He dances in his circle and calls them, asks them, begs them, to draw nearer. To hear him, to see him, to wrap their arms about him. To love him, as he has always loved them. He makes flowing gestures with his arms and implores them to be here on this sacred night. He makes them the ancient promise in unknown words, and it is done.

The pipes, the music, his voice all stop without warning or cue.

The flock exhales. They look at each other oddly. Unsure of what they witnessed, or of what to next. A few moments of awkward glances, the rise and mill about. When they are certain there is no more to be done they slowly, in small groups walk out to the yard to make what can be from the rest of this special night.

The magus turns towards his fellows and smiles. Outside there is a sharp, inhuman  roar, followed by all too human cries of fear. He shrugs as he looks out the window to the scene on the lawn. The guitarist joins him raising her mask. Wondering how she was going to get all this crap unstuck from her instrument.

It had been a good turn out for the night. The show went well, except maybe some of the party guests had eaten a few to many of those brownies. The mystic symbols in the glow in the dark paint, under the black light had been a nice touch. Too bad that asshole in the Leatherface mask was chasing people around with his chainsaw now.

“Who the fuck invited that guy?”

“That’s Josh.” The skull faced jester said setting his didgeridoo aside.

The vocalist adjusted the robe, “What a douche.”

“We already knew that. Fuck it dude, it’s Halloween, let him have his fun.”

“I guess you’re right.”

Happy Halloween

It is a bit absurd to ponder what kind of virtual treats or tricks would be given out to those visiting our blogs on Halloween. Although one could imagine our space here as our front porches and WordPress the neighborhood we all live in. Either way I have never been the staying at home to hand out treats type of guy. I would much rather be out there with my kid looking at all the ghouls and goblins on the street tonight. I even dressed up for the first time in years it should be fun. I’d recommend that everyone is should to come along with us.1417529_709351625761334_362256970_oBut then, who would hand out the candy?

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt.