It was Halloween. The greatest holiday of them all (until Christmas comes along) and I was going Trick or Treating with two neighborhood kids and my older sister. Ann, my sister, was dressed up as a prom queen. I had a homemade mask made from curled strips of construction paper and tag board. Daniel (don’t call me Dan or Danny) Lindsey was wearing the same zombie outfit his mom had made for him three years earlier, it was pretty small on him now; and Billy Ambrose had wrapped up his face with an ace bandage and was peeking out from under his dad’s fedora.
I’m guessing I was in the third grade because JFK was president, and still alive; but the family down the street was busy digging a bomb shelter in their back yard. That would mean that Billy was also in the third grade while my sister and Daniel would have been in fifth.
It was early, and we were just getting started, but it was dark. In those days Trick or Treat didn’t start until dark. We made our way to the edge of the neighborhood and started working our way North on the first street. My pillow case bag was filling with homemade caramels, popcorn balls, apples, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Roll Pops. I think I even had a couple of Abba Zaba’s in there so the evening was starting off strong. We got down to the last house on the west side of the street and no one was home. The desert stretched away to the north so we crossed the street and headed up the walk of the first house. The lawn was dying and weedy, Billy pointed out that this house was dark too, and that there was probably no one at home there either, but my sister spotted the flicker of a TV behind the curtains so we boldly marched to the front door and knocked.
The door swung open slowly and there stood the first ‘almost naked lady’ I had ever seen. In reality she wasn’t even close to naked but her blouse was unbuttoned and we could see her bra. Her teased hair was the color of straw, flipped up at the ends, and a bit disheveled, a cigarette hung from the corner of her mouth and she held a glass filled with ice cubes and brown liquor.
Wide eyed in wonder, at such a sight, we all yelled, “Trick-r-Treat” and held our open bags up to receive her offering.
She leaned down and peered at us through the screen. “Trick or Treat?” she questioned. “What, is this Halloween?”
We all nodded in unison.
Glancing back into the gloom of the house she shouted, “Shit, honey; it’s Halloween. I’ve got a passel ‘o kids at the front door Trick or Treatin’. We got anything to give ‘em?”
A large man walked up behind her wearing jeans, a wife beater, and a black cowboy hat, “like what?” he asked.
“We ain’t got no candy. If ya gotta give ‘em sumthin – give ‘em beer.”
The ‘almost naked lady’ held up her hand, “wait here kids,” she told us and hurried back into the house. I could see a light come on through a door down the hall.
The cowboy stood at the door and stared at us. “What are y’all s’posed to be? All dressed up weird.”
Ann began explaining about her prom queen costume. I was amazed when I realized that her speech was obviously well rehearsed. The cowboy was listening and nodding his head when the ‘almost naked lady’ pushed him aside and opened the screen door to step out. My bag was closest and I raised it slightly.
Cradled against her body by her left arm the ‘almost naked lady’ had four long neck Lone Star beers. She set the first one gently in my bag and then repeated the operation with my friends and my sister. She stood up straight, leaned back and crossed her arms below her breasts. She smiled, “Ya’ll are just the cutest!”
We all just looked up and stared. Billy finally broke the spell, “Thank you ma’am.” He said politely and immediately the rest of us joined in with a chorus of Thanks. Then we turned to leave.
“Hey kids,” the cowboy said, “don’t y’all be tellin’ yer folks what house you got them beers from now. Fact, it’ll prolly be simpler if you just drink ‘em ‘fore ya get home and don’t say nuthin’.” He held up a church key and tossed it to Daniel who caught it smartly.
“Thank you sir,” I said as the door swung shut.
We discussed his advice and decided he was right. We opened our beers and drank them as we continued up towards the corner. We didn’t knock on any more doors on that street. At the corner we stuffed our empty bottles into a hedge so we could collect them in the morning and turn them in for the deposit.
We commenced to Trick-r-Treating again on the very next street.