I love Halloween, not just the day, but the whole season. I go to as many costume parties as I can. I sometimes have to crash the parties, but with everyone wearing a mask no one notices me. That's the benefit of costume parties, no one notices me. The rest of the year everyone tries to avoid me, ever since the accident.
Ten years ago I was riding my bicycle to school. I was sixteen and could not drive yet. There was a big hill just down from the apartment mom and I lived in. It was great for getting to school and a real workout at the end of the day to get back home.
On this day I was moving pretty good, maybe thirty miles an hour or so, and nearly at the bottom of the hill. I would have to slow down soon, there was a railroad track at the bottom and it angled across the road, hit it too fast and a wreck was very likely. I squeezed the hand brakes on my eighteen speed mountain bike and began to slow down. Suddenly a car horn blatted right next to me. I looked to my left and saw a car I thought I recognized as belonging to one of the cheerleaders. I had time to do that much before someone leaning out of the back seat window threw a water balloon at me.
The balloon hit my helmet and soaked my hair as well as blurring my glasses. If that was all that happened I would have been angry, but just shrugged it off. Unfortunately I was almost at the railroad tracks and the water splashed ahead of me onto the track. I had been distracted by the car horn, by intention I believe, and was still braking when the front wheel hit the wet metal. The wheel slid sideways to the right and I went flying. I saw the pavement coming at me and tried to break my fall with my left arm. There was incredible pain, then nothing.
I spent almost six months in and out of the hospital while they tried to rebuild my face. The rough pavement I slid along worked just like a cheese grater. I now had a titanium jawbone and cheekbone. My nose was plastic and the left half of my face was recovered with skin from my ass. No matter how much work they did on it, I still scared little kids. I grew my hair long to try to hide, but that didn't look right either. I also had pins in my right ankle and in the bones of my left arm.
I never made it back to high school. Mom lost her job at the grocery store because she was taking so much time off to care for me. She got in touch with a lawyer and sued the families of the kids in the car that day. Their malicious action had destroyed my life, so we made them suffer as much as we could. Mom home schooled me till it was time for college. I did my best to be Mister Invisible at college. Even with long hair and high collars, kids would see my face and their eyes would slide away in revulsion. That was why I loved Halloween. I could wear a mask and look just like everyone else. This was the only time I could have actual conversations, especially with women.
This year I knew of a couple of parties people in the office were having, and then there was the official office party. I was able to access the personnel records to get addresses. In college I had tried hard to guide myself toward a career where I had very little interaction with people. Now I was an actuary at NHP in Evansville, Indiana. We were one of the top ten health insurance companies in Indiana and all I had to deal with were numbers. I ate in my office and usually got to work earlier and left later than anyone else on my floor. My door was normally closed and any interactions were with E-mail and telephone.
I went to three parties last year, and left before the unmasking. I shop all year to get the best masks and had a nice sized collection now. There was no need for anyone to recognize me from previous parties.
The first party this year was at Joss Logan's house. He lived in a duplex out on East Virginia Street. It was a nice place and a good neighborhood. I had found a well made Blackbeard mask and costume last month and I was going to wear it to this party. The mask and beard covered my face completely, and the big hat and wig finished concealing my identity.
I was waiting ten minutes before the party was due to begin. I sat in my rental car just down the block and watched as people started to arrive. My own car was a plain white Impala, but I didn't want to take the chance that someone would recognize it, so I used a rental just for these parties.
I waited until a large group of cars pulled in to park at the same time, and moved forward to join them. I slipped into the party amid the throng, grabbed a drink, and moved over to a corner to watch for the rest of the guests to get here.
I recognized Logan and his wife. They were done up as Peter pan and Wendy. I nursed my drink for half an hour and by then it seemed that everyone was here that was coming. I moved over by the punch bowl and looked around. I saw Cat Woman standing near the French doors leading out onto the patio. The costume was tight enough to show a very nice form, and she was alone. Her glass was almost empty, so I put down my glass and approached her.
"Pardon me, Cat, but would you like a refill?"
The lady looked over at me, then spoke softly enough that only I could hear, "Oh help, help, there's a pirate after me." Then she gained volume and asked me, "Why, yes, Mister Beard, do you think you could find me a nice red wine?"
I went along with the gag, "Oh no, wouldn't you prefer some punch?" I then whispered to her, "It hides the taste of the drugs so much better."
She laughed and said, "I think I'll stay with the wine, thank you. You might get your bird a cracker or something though, he is looking a little peaked."
She was referring to the stuffed toy sewn onto the jacket shoulder. I had wanted a parrot, but the only thing I could find to go with the costume was the "Fruit Loops" toucan, multi-colored beak and all.
I chuckled as I headed over to the snack table. They had several box wines available; to include a burgundy I'd had before and knew to be good. I got us both a plastic cup full and took it back to the super villainess.
I was able to talk to this woman for over an hour, the topics ranged from the future of the economy to fashion trends. This was what I loved about the masks and costumes of this time of year. Women would actually talk to me as a normal person, not a disgusting cripple. I could not get enough of their soft voices, the smell of their perfume, or on rare occasions the smell of shampoo in their hair. I had at most three chances this year to experience that, and I was going to take every advantage of it.
Cat didn't seem to want to let me go, and when I started making noises of moving on, she l+ed me over to other groups and acted as if we were a couple. This was fine by me, as it added to the strength of my position, now I was the date of an invited guest. We danced a few times and generally had a good time, oh how I wished that I could do this without the mask. She was quite a bit shorter than my six feet and every time she tried to get close to me on the dance floor, all she got was a face full of beard.
We were both giggling about her latest attempt, when Joss called attention for the judging of the costumes. This was my signal to leave. When the judging was done, that would mean that it was time to unmask, and I avoided that at all costs.
I indicated to Cat that I was heading to the bathroom, and beat feet out the door. It would have been interesting to see Cat without the mask, I thought I saw a slight oriental cast to the eyes, but couldn't be sure. That and the slightly olive coloration of the skin of her shoulders revealed by the costume hinted at an oriental heritage.
This party had been on Saturday the twenty second, with Halloween being on Monday this year there was time for two more parties. Bill Jackson was having one on Friday the twenty eighth, and the actual office party was scheduled for Saturday the twenty ninth.
Jackson's house backed onto Clearcrest Country club and was a lot more house than a midlevel manager should be able to afford. Rumor had it that his wife's family had contributed a lot to making him eligible to buy the house and join the country Club. Jackson always went all out with his parties, trying to show that he deserved all the luck his wife had brought him.
I was going to this party as Fidel Castro. I had the battle dress uniform, the fatigue cap, spirit gummed scraggly beard, and a camouflage pattern mask.
I couldn't use the same dodge as I had at Logan's party. Any cars sitting on the street Jackson lived on would be immediately investigated by private police. Instead I parked at a gas station on the street leading into the subdivision, and followed when I saw a couple of cars I recognized heading in the right direction.
This time I needn't have bothered, no one was checking for invitations. Jackson's front yard had been turned into a pumpkin patch with skeletons for scarecrows and crimson eyed vultures sitting on them watching as people walked by. There was a fenced path leading to an arched gate beside the house. The fence poles had skulls on them with little lights inside of the skulls barely illuminating the pathway. The archway was coated in spider webs with great big spiders hanging just above head height. There were also several strings hanging down to touch you as you walked through. With this much effort put into the intro, I couldn't wait to see the back yard where the party would be. Jackson had obviously hired a good decorating company to do this as it was far and beyond what someone would be likely to do by themselves.
.... There is more of this story ...