Friday, September 24, 2010

Amateur Night

By John McDonnell

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” Cole said, looking through the Trick or Treat bag that the little boy dropped when he ran away screaming after Cole jumped out of the bushes in his clown costume. “I get to scare all these stupid little kids and take their candy.”

“It’s so easy,” his buddy Ted said, tearing open a bag of M&Ms and pouring its contents down his throat. “Little kids are all afraid of clowns.”

Cole had an orange fright wig on, and a clown costume with baggy pants and big shoes. He had painted his face white and put big red lips and a red bulbous false nose on. He was 17, and it was the third Halloween in a row that he had pulled this stunt. Ted was dressed in a hoodie and sweatpants. He just went along to help carry the candy they stole from the kids. This year they had tried a new neighborhood, because there was talk that parents would be out watching for them in their usual haunts.

“We still don’t have anything crunchy,” Ted said. “That’s my favorite. I don’t really like chocolate that much.” He had chocolate dripping from his mouth when he said this.

“Yeah, let’s keep going,” Cole said. “This next street over has some big old houses. I bet they give out a lot of candy.”

Sure enough, the street was teeming with children in their Halloween costumes. Every one of them had a parent, however, and Cole was afraid to scare the little kids when their parents were nearby.

“Damn,” he said. “Nothing happening here.”

“Yeah, but look at that house,” Ted said, pointing to a big Victorian style house with turrets and gables and a wrought iron fence around it. “It’s all lit up, and there are tons of kids coming out of it. They must give a lot of candy at that place, otherwise the kids wouldn’t be there. Let’s go and just pretend we’re trick or treating. Maybe we’ll get some crunchy candy.”

“Sure,” Cole said. “I’d rather scare some kids, but what the hell.”

By the time they walked up the long paved walkway most of the children had left. There was one small girl dressed as an angel walking down the steps from the porch, and she seemed to be alone. Cole didn’t see a parent around, so when the girl walked past him he pushed her down and took her bag.

“Hey,” the little girl said. “That’s my Trick or Treat bag!”

“Get out of here, kid,” Cole said, making a scary clown face at her. “Beat it, before I do something nasty to you.”

The little girl ran away crying.

Cole and Ted heard something behind them, and they turned to see a very small man on the porch who was looking at them. He was a midget, dressed in a clown outfit, with baggy polka dot pants, a black bowler hat, and a brown coat that was too big for him, with a large yellow flower in the lapel. He was grinning at them.

“That’s the spirit of Halloween,” he said. “Come up here, boys, and let me take a look at you.”

Cole and Ted went up the steps and the little man ushered them through the big oak door to the foyer of the house. There were circus posters hanging on the walls, newspaper clippings, and the smell of chocolate in the air.

“Let me shake your hand,” the little man said. “I always love to meet a fellow clown.”

Cole held out his hand and the little man clasped it firmly in his. There was a smell of electricity, a buzzing sound, and Cole jumped a foot in the air, then fell on the floor with a dazed look on his face. The little man laughed heartily at this.

“The old handshake buzzer,” he said. “Gets ‘em every time.”

Cole slowly got to his feet, but his eyes had a vacant look.

The little man turned to Ted, held out his lapel, and said, “Doesn’t this flower smell wonderful?”

Ted bent over to smell and got a squirt of something in his eyes. Within seconds his eyes were on fire, and he howled in pain.

The little man laughed again, and ushered the dazed boys into the living room, directly over a trap door that opened when they stepped on it, sending them tumbling down to the basement below.

Immediately there was a very loud growl, and then the sound of screaming and people running for their lives.

The little man adjusted his flower, smoothed his long coat and called into the kitchen. “You don’t have to worry about feeding the Beast, dear. I’ve found two amateurs who will provide him with an excellent supper.”

“Why thank you, dear,” came the voice from the kitchen. “And if there’s anything left over, I’ll use it for the next batch of chocolate. It’s always nice to add a little crunchiness, don’t you think?”

Copyright John McDonnell 2010. All rights reserved.