RABBITS AND WITCHES, FAIRIES AND...
By Sharon Angleman
 

October 31, 1966

     "Oh! Youíre a beautiful Fairy Princess, Lessie!" Sharon exclaimed to her Aunt Elise, only three years her senior.
     "And your not bad for a bunny rabbit, but your ears are too big," her aunt laughed .

     "Are not!" Sharon pouted.  The suit was a little big, but Sharon had insisted.  She had had her heart set on it since her kindergarten class had read  ĎPeter Cotton Tail.í

     "Ready to go girls?" Sharonís mother asked.

     "Yes!" the girls cried in unison. " But where are Kenny and Dale?" Sharon asked.  She adored her uncles, especially Kenny and rarely wanted to go anywhere without them.

     "Oh now that they think theyíre teen-agers, they think theyíre too big for trick-or-treating," Elise said. "And Iím not giving them any of my candy!"

     "Never mind that, Elise," her sister said. "Get your bags and letís go treating!"

     "Hey! Mind if I tag along?" Kenny asked as he came from the far back room that the boys shared. "Just wanna make sure your girlies donít get eaten by a boogie man or anything. Big ears," he said as he tweeked Sharonís costume.

     "Su-u-re you do," Elise smirked and rolled her eyes.

     " Okay, Kenny," Sharon took his hand and smiled.  "You can come."

     Sharon was thankful to have her uncle accompany them.  While she would never admit it, she was a little frightened of the whole idea of this trick-or-treating.  This was her first time as a big girl to really participate in the ritual. Oh yeah, she had treated before, but always with her parents walking her to the door in the early hours of the evening.  Never was she allowed to parade through the neighborhood with the BIG kids at dusk.
     She was excited and thrilled.  And she was scared.  As they walked out into street that was so familiar to her, she stood in awe of its transformation.  The large, friendly oaks that lined Campbell Street and canopied the summer pavement now possessed long spindly fingers and played host to creatures too frightening to think of.  To taunt the children they would occasionally float an autumn leaf down in a slow, ghostly flight.  The moon peaked through the tangled branches, crying release from its prison.

     Itís only tonight, Moon Man,  Sharon reassured it, and herself.  Youíll be okay tomorrow, I promise.  She held tight onto her treat bag, and soon its twisted paper handle became soggy from nervous sweaty palms.  She held tighter as it began to unravel.

     The usually quite street was now teaming with delighted, animated creatures of every sort.  The thick masquerade of witches and Supermans, bunnies and Caspers moved slowly  through the congested street and sidewalks.  The warm, humid night breeze was turbid with thickly clad, sweaty children.  Squeals of elation and the constant chatter filled the air, and soon Sharon relaxed a little.

     "Come on, Fraidy Cat!." Elise tugged her along to the first house, swatting children out of the way with her Fairy Wand.  Believing her aunt to be a true veteran at this, she allowed herself to be pulled.  Kenny watched the girls from the street wearing a  slippery grin.  Sharon smiled and waved at him.  He nodded and waved back.

     Fighting her way through children hungry for treats proved a little cumbersome for the five-year-old.  But the rewards were worth it.  The first pillage included  carmeled popcorn balls (Mrs. Wilton had let the girls assist and sample their creation the day before), Jolly Rancher watermelons and tiny jelly beans wrapped in colored tissue.

     See, itís not so bad Moon Man, she looked up to the dark sky toward her secret confidant. Weíll share later.

 

     Several houses later, as the child turned to descend the concrete steps of the Johnsonís home, she ran smack into - the DEVIL!
     Sucking in her breath, she let out a small cry.  The DEVIL wore a red silk cape complete with red hood and black plastic horns. In the hand that did not hold the treats he surely stole from some poor unsuspecting child, was a black plastic PITCHFORK.

     Seeing the shock of the trembling child, the nine-year-old DEVIL said, "Itís okay, Iím not going to hurt you.  Itís just a costume. See?"  He said this in a soft, soothing voice that was most assuredly a trick.  He pulled the hood back so that she could see his face.  It looked normal enough, but then, thatís what the DEVIL does.  "Itís okay," he said again.

     " ĎMon slow poke!" Elise barked.  Taking her hand, Sharon followed her aunt, but kept a watchful eye on the DEVIL.  Maybe it was okay, but better to be safe.  The DEVIL smiled sweetly at the child and raised his hand in a guilty wave.

     Seeing his opportunity, Kenny came up to the girls and asked what kind of goodies they had earned.

     "Told ya! Iím not sharing, Meanie Weenie," Elise told her older brother.

     "Ah, come on," he begged.  "Then yaíll go to the house and fetch my bag from last year.  Itís in my room, on the dresser."

     Of course Elise protested, so Kenny cunningly offered to share half of his spoils if they would run the errand.  " I canít leave," he fibbed, " Iím waiting for Scott."

     Sharon saw that her aunt was giving careful consideration to this. "Come ON, Lessie, letís go get it.  Heíll share HALF!"   Dragging her aunt along, Sharon was happy to do for her uncle, and happier to escape this Halloween whoo-rah for a moment.

     The girls headed back hastily, so as not to miss too much.

 

     The house was quiet... and very.. very dark.  The adults sat outside in lawn chairs dispensing treats and chatting  nonsense among themselves.  Only a casual inquiry was made concerning the girls return.
     The house was like one long hallway, with the kitchen entrance first, then the family room  and dining area, then the hall leading to all the bedrooms and the two baths.  Midway down the dark, narrow hall was the back door.  The girls always ran quickly past it after the sun went down.  It was possessed by a witch.  They always giggled after clambering past the door, but it was not from silliness, it was a release of fear.

     Oh sure, the grown-ups  had tried  to tell them  the shadow they saw wasnít the long, crooked nose of a witch.  They  had said it was just the reflected shadow of the screen door handle on the outside.  They had said that the jutting warted chin of the evil woman was only the latch on the inside.  They  had even said that the dancing shadows of her imps were only the trees outsides, reflected by the street lamp, being blown by the wind.

 Well, there was no wind tonight.  And IT was all still there.

     Running swiftly past the Door of Horrors, the girls almost fell over each other as they screeched to a halt.  Before them now was the very farthest... back room... end of the line... of the house.  So far back that no one would hear them should they scream.
     "Come on, letís go Fraidy Cat,"  Elise said, trying to act brave.  As she said this she shoved Sharon out in front of her as a shield.

     And they entered.

     Being the room of one teen-age and one almost teen-age boy, the entrance was protected by dark colored glass beads that made peculiar sounds when one stepped through them.
     The light switch did not respond to the Eliseís trembling fingers.  But all was not lost.  In the corner of the room, someone had left a small blacklight burning, throwing just enough illumination that one could see the cluttered dresser.

     Proceed with extreme caution.

     The space within housed shrunken heads (how they got that way, the boys had explained in vivid detail), a bleached out human skull (the plastic encasing it was to keep the worms from boring in), hideous posters adorning the walls, rubber snakes and spiders and a long magic walking stick that an evil sorcerer had used when he killed children.

     Shadows played off the many, many items that two boys might leave lying around, and the girls had to walk very slowly to avoid stepping on awful, smelly things.

     A  cre-eee-eepy... cra-aa-wwling... scratching sound  started to fill the still room.

     The girls grabbed for each other and clung tightly, thinking their unity would  silence it.

     To no avail.

     In desperation  and utter terror, their eyes darted, fleeting around the room.  Drawn to the window, at the very... farthest... darkest... only escape from this end of the house, they saw a shadow bouncing up and down as if intoxicated, as if trying to get in !!

 Trying to scratch its way through the window pane - THEY SAW THE DEVIL!!

     The girls screamed as loud as their tiny lungs would allow.  They grabbed and flung at unseen objects, tripping and stumbling though the maze of horrors, knocking demons and evil sorcerers out of their way.  Screaming and running they fled, past the witch and her warted nose, past the bathroom where the sea monster now woke, past the dining table whoís ball and clawed feet now came to life and reached out to grab them.
     Flinging open the kitchen door, still screaming, and stumbling, and now crying tears of mortal terror.

     Sharonís mother rose quickly from her chair, knocking it over, screaming herself, trying to understand the girls.  When the chair fell, with it went the beverage glass that had been balanced on the arm. Granddaddy stood up quickly as well, more so from the cold drink that had landed in his lap.
     Everyone within hearing range stopped dead in their steps, some came to see what was wrong.

     The oldest of the two boys walked casually from around the side of the house.

      "Hey, whatís all the hollering about?" he asked.
 
 

Kenny and Dale got in big, big trouble.

 



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