When tricks are treats. A story for Hal­loween.

A story for Hal­loween

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page - By Ian McInnes

Work on Mrs. Par­sons at eighty-one years young moved well for a se­nior. The date helped her mo­ti­va­tion some­what. It was Hal­loween night, the one night of the year that she could guar­an­tee that she would have com­pany. Her hus­band had passed away three years ago and her four chil­dren had moved away. Sure, they kept in touch and some­times vis­ited with their chil­dren but it was rare.

Tonight, Oc­to­ber 31 was the one night that the old lady could guar­an­tee to see smil­ing chil­dren’s faces and she was well pre­pared. There were home baked cook­ies, cakes and plenty of can­dies and lit­tle toys. She bus­ied her­self care­fully cov­er­ing the home baked goods and putting the can­dies and toys in bas­kets. Mrs. Par­sons ex­pected to be busy.

Sit­ting pa­tiently by the ta­ble in the hall­way that was loaded down with goodies was her black cat, Bunny. Well, he was Bunny to ev­ery­one else but to Mrs. Par­sons his real name was Salem. But one didn’t want to be call­ing that out late at night to get the cat in, did one? It might give peo­ple the wrong idea. An old lady liv­ing on her own with a black cay called Salem? Well, that might give peo­ple no­tions. What­ever next.

Pic­tures on the walls and dis­played on fur­ni­ture all over the house showed Mrs. Par­sons and her hus­band in var­i­ous poses with an­i­mals at the ve­teri­nary clinic they ran to­gether for over three decades along with fam­ily and camp­ing pic­tures. Happy times, all.

The af­ter­noon and evening was busy, as usual. The lo­cal chil­dren knew Mrs. Par­sons was kind, very gen­er­ous and trusted by par­ents and older rel­a­tives not to give out any­thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate. One just can’t be too care­ful these days. At a lit­tle af­ter ten, the old lady was tired out and ready for bed. All her reg­u­lar vis­i­tors had come and gone as had vir­tu­ally all her goodies. One packet of home­made cook­ies and some can­dies re­mained, just in case.

Bruce and Barb Mad­dox were brother and sis­ter and renowned bullies at the lo­cal high school. They en­joyed the thrill of scar­ing peo­ple. Tonight, All Hal­lows Eve, the pair were out in their cos­tumes. Bruce was a pretty scary look­ing Joker while his sis­ter had some­how squeezed her­self into a Cat Woman cos­tume, which al­most fit­ted where it touched. Per­haps bulged would be a bet­ter de­scrip­tion. Some­how the plas­tic had not split, not yet any­way. But the threat re­mained. Barb felt con­stricted but pretty good as the su­gar she’d con­sumed raced around her body.

Trick or treat­ing for Bruce and Barb was more trick or trick re­ally for the peo­ple they vis­ited. Get the candy then throw eggs, dog poop, even break win­dows was part of their reper­toire. There were al­ways plenty of new­com­ers in town that had not yet ex­pe­ri­enced the Bruce and Barb ef­fect. Now though, it was time to head home, eat the rest of their spoils and look for­ward to scar­ing some kids in the day­time to­mor­row. They cut onto a street they didn’t of­ten visit. Too many peo­ple there knew them. There was one house though. “What about the old lady with the cat?” Said Bruce. “I don’t think we’ve ever been there.” Barb paused and thought. The lat­ter be­ing some­thing of a rar­ity. “Sure,” she said. Shak­ing up a can of un­opened soda. Bruce did like­wise.

Just as Mrs. Par­sons was think­ing about bed the door­bell rang. The cat yowled a warn­ing. “It’s just chil­dren Salem,” the old lady scolded. “Older chil­dren, but chil­dren. Look at their cos­tumes.” Salem was not im­pressed and scooted un­der the ta­ble from where he watched the door bale­fully.

The old lady opened the door and just got a glimpse of a rather good joker out­fit and what looked to a very over­weight Cat Woman was it? “Trick or treat,” the trick­sters screamed then opened their soda cans so the con­tents ex­ploded over the old lady and the cat. “That was funny,” said Bruce. “Now give us some­thing.” Mrs. Par­sons was badly shaken and could feel pal­pi­ta­tions in her chest. She was scared but also an­gry. Even though she was drip­ping with the sticky soda she kept her head and her tem­per. Only a glint in her eye re­vealed that.

“I’ve got one thing left,” she said hand­ing them each a cookie from the last packet. Bruce and Barb snatched the cook­ies and de­voured them in short or­der. “These are good,” said Barb spit­ting out crumbs. “Oh yes, they’re very good, “said Mrs. Par­sons. “Is it OK if I clean up now,” she said icily. “Sure, you old bag,” said Bruce scoop­ing up what was left of the can­dies. “Licky sticky,” said Barb. They left, laugh­ing, just mak­ing it through the door as Mrs. Par­sons shut it, Salem ran out too.

“That was fun,” said Barb as they headed down the street. “Yes,” said Bruce in an un­steady voice. He stopped and vom­ited co­pi­ously over the side walk. “Yuck,” said Barb, yawn­ing. “I’m tired. Let’s cut through the woods to go home. It’s much quicker.” Bruce did not look or feel at all well. His head was spin­ning and he was hav­ing dif­fi­culty co­or­di­nat­ing his move­ments. “OK,” he croaked. A shadow, a big one moved quickly to the side of them. Barb, jumped and grabbed her brother. “Did you see that?” Bruce con­fessed that he didn’t. Both heard the low growl that was com­ing out of bushes in a gar­den be­hind them. What­ever it was it sounded large and very un­friendly. They lurched as quickly as they could to­wards the woods. Some­thing very large and vaguely cat like crept out of the bushes and fol­lowed at a dis­tance.

The woods weren’t large and the path to the bully’s home through them was a lit­tle over 200 yards. That dis­tance seemed like a life­time for the sib­lings who were both now very much un­der the in­flu­ence of what­ever was in Mrs. Par­son’s spe­cial last pack­age of cook­ies. They thought and per­haps they were stalked by a large, strange an­i­mal all the way that was snarling, spit­ting and some­times dart­ing in to scratch at their cos­tumes with the tip of it’s claws.

By the time they had reached the edge of the woods they were barely able to walk or speak and saw ter­ri­ble vi­sions of a gi­ant black crea­ture roar­ing at them. When they got home they spoke of it to their par­ents who sat in dis­be­lief at their tale. Their chil­dren’s scratches and scrapes they could have got from run­ning through the woods as for the odour on them that was cer­tainly the work of a tom cat. Suf­fice to say that was the last time Bruce and Barb went out on Hal­loween for many a year.

Re­spond­ing to a meow at the door Mrs. Par­sons opened it so Salem could come in. The cat walked in with his tail up and his fur clean. It a cat could look pleased with it­self, he did. “There you are Salem,” said the old lady. “I hope you taught that pair a les­son.” The cat looked at her and purred.

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