Trick-r-Treat


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.

“Like candy.”

“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.


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Daily Prompt: Trio No. 3

Daily Prompt: Trio No. 3

Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must mention a dark night, your fridge, and tears (of joy or sadness; your call). Feel free to switch one ingredient if you have to (or revisit one from previous trio prompts).


The bandits crept silently towards their destination; no shadow was cast by the new moon. Anthony could almost taste the prize they were so close. He had been careful when assembling this crew – a specific collection of talents were mandatory if they were to succeed. The planning of the job had been a long and arduous process, taking hours. Diagrams had been drawn, schedules had been developed and collaborators had been drafted. Everything had been checked and rechecked.

Anthony had first enlisted the aid of his younger sister, Brenda, because of her uncanny ability to maintain silence. Brenda could sneak up on her cat, Prissy without being detected. When Brenda would reach out and goose her, Prissy would always start and run, having had no idea that a stalker had approached.

Anthony considered signing up Benjamin for this job. He had known Ben his whole life and had always liked him but in the end Anthony elected to keep Ben in the dark. Benny was too young, he could be hotheaded and prone to bouts of crying if things didn’t work out. At the age of three, when Benny’s tears began to flow it always brought his mother who would rush out to comfort him. If that happened they would be caught for sure so, Benjamin was not invited to participate. Perhaps they would share some of the spoils with him if all went well. Perhaps not.

Their brother, Richard was the last to sign up. Anthony knew that he and Brenda would need someone tall and agile. Richard was just the man for the job and he jumped at the chance to participate. Besides since Richard and Anthony shared living quarters it would be hard to pull off this caper without him finding out anyway.

The three conspirators gathered at the picnic table beneath the elm tree in the park and reviewed the diagrams and schedules that Anthony had developed. When Anthony was certain that everyone understood and agreed with the plan they all stood around the table and spat on their palms, shaking hands the conspiracy was sealed. They would act that very evening.

That night, Anthony could not sleep. He had hoped to get in a bit of shut-eye before embarking on the heist but the adrenalin would not allow it. Despite being awake in his bed, he still jumped when Brenda put her hand on his shoulder. It was time. They collected Richard and headed out.

Silently opening the door, Anthony led the others into the hallway towards the kitchen. The sounds of the Tonight Show reached them from behind Mom and Dad’s closed bedroom door. There was a sliver of light at the bottom of the door that sliced through the dark hallway like a knife. Benjamin’s door was open but his room was dark and silent. He slept peacefully in his crib. The bandits crept soundlessly closer to their destination.

Pausing at the kitchen door Anthony used hand signals to indicate to Brenda that she should take the point. Her job was to silently scout the kitchen terrain and ensure that no surprises awaited that might trip them up. She slipped through the doorway and disappeared into the gloom. Seconds later she returned and gave them the all clear. They moved silently towards the refrigerator where they knew their prize awaited.

A column of drawers sat silently in the cabinet next to the fridge. Richard slowly pulled them out one by one, fashioning a crude staircase which he then used to ascend closer to the prize. Brenda kept watch and Anthony stayed below. From the counter top, Richard was tall enough to reach the ceramic cookie jar that sat atop the fridge. Everyone held their breath as it scraped the top of the refrigerator but, the noise went unnoticed and no alarm was sounded. He cradled the cookie jar in his arms and turned. Handing it down to Anthony, he descended the stairway and closed the drawers, leaving no trace of his passage.

The three bandits retired back to Anthony and Richard’s room and silently high-fived each other, then they sat on the floor in a circle to divide up the loot. Mom had baked a double batch of chocolate chip cookies right after lunch. They used a pen light for illumination and reveled in their shared bounty.

The next morning when Mom came in to wake Richard and Anthony for breakfast she found her three oldest children asleep on the floor, haphazardly arranged around the empty cookie jar. The jig was up!


Daily Prompt: Custom Zodiac

Daily Prompt: Custom Zodiac

You’re tasked with creating a brand new astrological sign for the people born around your birthday — based solely on yourself. What would your new sign be, and how would you describe those who share it?


 

It was loud in there that evening, raucous. I had to shout to be heard, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“I said, I think you’re cute and I want to know your sign.”

I looked around for someplace to set my beer and wound up handing it to her to hold. Rolling up my shirt sleeve I showed her my hourglass tattoo.

“No,” she shouted, “Zodiac sign! When’s your birthday?”

The noise level in the room seemed to be rising and it was dark; I could barely see what she looked like. “Are you trying to find out how old I am?” I teased over the din. “Don’t you know it’s not polite to ask a man’s age? And, this is my Zodiac sign.” I lit a cigarette so I could see her face in the light from the match. She looked a little inebriated but she passed the match test.

“I don’t know that sign,” she hollered and took a long pull on my beer, “What is it?”

I grinned, “It’s the ‘sign of the times’. My birthday’s in Novober,” I yelled.

She leaned in so she didn’t have to talk so loudly and said, “I should have known that.”


 


I heard the sound, the bump from downstairs. I heard it from my room.
I paid no attention
I needed to sleep.

I heard it again that sound that didn’t fit, didn’t quite belong.
This time a creak from the stair;
Fold the pillow, turn on my side, ignore it again. Try to get to sleep.

The near silent squeak of the bedroom door
So familiar to me,
So out of place for now.
It garners my full attention.
Senses on alert, I lie still; peering into the darkness through half closed eyes,
feigning sleep.

The door swings wide admitting a soft white glow.
On the heels of the light I recognize Darlene,
“Paul? Are you awake?”
The chain operates the lamp on the bedside table, bringing more light, yellower light.
Light the color of cornbread.

Darlene’s face is bruised and bloodied. Her left eye is swollen, almost shut.
Her dress is torn and the heel is broken off of one shoe.
“What happened to you?” I swing my legs off the bed, feet on the floor.

“I was walking home from the theater. He came from behind.
I didn’t know where else to go so I came here. I used my key.”
I stood and moved to take her in my arms.


Yeah – Editor’s Pick!

Bump and Grind



The work-night was over; still too early for dawn.
“See ya, Jimmy,” Darlene said to the doorman.
Stepping into the morning chill she adjusted her scarf.
“G’nite, Miss Drake!”

She walked away from beneath the darkened marquee that read:
“Girls, Girls, Girls”


Daily Prompt: Local Color

Daily Prompt: Local Color

 Imagine we lived in a world that’s all of a sudden devoid of color, but where you’re given the option to have just one object keep its original hue. Which object (and which color) would that be?


The war of ’83. That’s when it happened. That’s when the world went grey. I was only 8 years old when it happened. Neither side ever admitted to causing it. It could have been us, but I don’t want to believe that. I want to think it was them. A lot of people gave up when it happened. The fighting just sort of petered out. It was almost like we all lost our motivation along with our colors.

There are still a few of us left who remember the yellow and orange tints that painted a sunset, and the color of a green field. I know, yellow, orange, green are terms you don’t understand. They are abstract concepts to you, but not to me. I can tell you the names of those old colors but I can’t show you. They simply don’t exist anymore. But the effects might be wearing off. Whatever happened might be reversing itself.

Look out there. Look at the sea. Does it look a bit different to you? Yeah, it’s still mostly grey but even in the old days there were times when the sea was grey. So look at the sea and then look at the sand or the sky and trees. See the difference? The difference is color. In the old days we called that color blue. I think that the sea is turning blue again. Keep watching it. It might take years but when it comes back there will be an abundance of different shades of blue. What you see now is only the tip of the iceberg. There are enough variations of blue that it will take your breath away. Cornflower blue, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, turquoise, and cyan, these are just a few of the shades that existed and perhaps will exist again. Like I said, keep your eyes on the sea. Watch it change. It’s coming back.

And if the color of the sea is coming back it will be only a matter of time before the other colors return as well because the sea contained all colors. Watch the sea. It’s going to be the game changer.

If Ben was going to allow me to choose one thing that would retain its color I would choose the sea because the sea is all colors at one point or another. And if the sea can change everything else should follow suit.


More tea Señor?


When Mother died all that was left was a void, a hollow in my chest where my heart had been. I would dream about her though.

Nice dreams. I had sweet dreams of music, dancing, fiestas. We would put on our party dresses and dance together while the mariachis played. We would eat freshly baked pan dulce from plates stacked high. I wish it had stayed that way but it didn’t. It couldn’t. It changed.

I don’t dream of Mother anymore because to dream you must sleep and I seldom sleep these nights. I don’t want to be asleep when Mother is home. Mother is here, in this house. She speaks to me directly now. Oh, it began simply enough, “Adelita, you should put on a wrap, hace frio.” Or, “Adelita, put a pork roast into the oven. I love the way the aroma fills the kitchen.” I would come home and find fresh cut flowers in a vase next to my bed. I knew that they were from her.

Quickly though, it changed. She became hard. You know what I mean? And demanding. The first time she led me to do it. She started slow. “Adelita, that Señor Duran sat behind you in church today. I don’t like the way he was looking at you.”

“Adelita, Señor Duran followed you home from the market today. Be careful, mi hija.”

“Adelita, Señor Duran means you no good. You must stop him. You can easily kill a man with a blow to the head. A shovel would work well.”

When Señor Duran was killed last summer no one suspected me. After that it got easier. Señora Mendez was the last. They say she fell from the bridge, hit her head, and drown in the river. In fact they almost got it right! That is pretty close to how it happened. She didn’t fall though.

You know, Mother doesn’t even give me reasons to strike anymore. She just gives me the names and I do as she asks. The last name she gave me was yours, Señor. I hope you enjoyed your tea. You should be finding it hard to concentrate now and difficult to move.

Tomorrow is el Dia de los Muertos and I must go put flowers on Mother’s grave. Marigolds, she always loved marigolds. But tonight I must prepare a grave for you.