"Danny, wait, I'm coming! Wait for me!" I heard my little sister squeal loudly in excitement as she burst out the front door. She leaped off the front stoop and landed running, dashing as fast as she could across the front yard in my direction.
"Sorry Sammie, but you were taking so long that I thought that you just didn't want to go trick-or-treating this year." I said solemnly, my face betraying nothing. "I would just have to keep all that candy for myself." I added in mock exasperation, with a sigh of resignation at the end.
Seeing as our Mom was suddenly and unexpectedly stuck in bed with the flu, and our older sister Mattie was away at college, the responsibility of chaperoning Sam while out trick-or-treating fell to either our Dad or yours truly. I fully expected him to take charge of the job, leaving me to man the front door, dolling out candy and chocolates to the oncoming juvenile horde, as well as guarding our home from the occasional toilet-paper and egg wielding prankster. But, to my surprise, when we were alone, Dad confided in me that he had got more than his fill of kid's Halloweens years ago and would much prefer to take it easy and stay home.
So, in exchange for a favor to be determined at a later date, I agreed to take the rug-rat out while he stayed behind.
It really wasn't that big of a sacrifice. I most likely would have done it anyway. Despite our age differences (me at nineteen and her at eight) I enjoyed spending time with my baby sis. She was a surprisingly smart and funny kid, who seemed to look upon her big brother as some sort of hero.
Go figure, right?
Ever since I had started working part time after graduating from high school, as well as taking classes at the local community college, I had less and less time to spend at home and with her. So, over the last several weeks, Sam had been making her unhappiness pretty obvious to the entire household. I was hoping that spending Halloween with her would at least in part make up for some of my unintentional fraternal neglect.
She slowed as she approached me, a vivid expression of surprised dismay on her face. It didn't last though. Either I was a really bad liar or she simply knew me too well. Her expression quickly shifted to one of amusement, with a bright and wide smile.
"No ... you wouldn't have left without me." Sam said and then giggled cutely.
"What? You don't think that I like candy more than I like you?" I asked gesturing emphatically with her empty orange plastic jack-o-lantern bucket in hand.
"I know you like me more." She replied with all the confidence in the world while still giggling. Grabbing my free hand, she then led me away down the sidewalk. "Come on; let's go before everybody runs out of the best candy!"
Ah, the annual hunt for the most and best Halloween haul. Good memories. Too bad that people frown on teenagers trick-or-treating.
The sun had just started setting and the early autumn evening was comfortably cool. It was a beautiful sight, the crisp clear contrast of color between the blue sky and the play of fading sunlight over the orange and red of the fall foliage. The street was alive with motion and sound, with several dozen costumed kids out and about, laughing and having a good time. In an hour, their numbers seemed to multiply exponentially – I had no idea that there were so many kids in our town, let alone our little neighborhood. I spotted a few princesses and fairytale characters, a small group of ninjas, some superheroes, pirates, cowboys, and the traditional assortment of ghosts, ghouls and monsters. Every once in a while, even one of their accompanying parents was costumed as well.
Sam stopped occasional to chat with other kids that she knew, talking about and complimenting each other's costumes and where the best candy was to be found.
As we walked door to door, we 'oohed' and 'ahhed' at the decorations people had put up around their homes. From traditional and sometimes elaborate jack-o-lanterns, to one house in particular that went all out, with ambient music and sound effects playing, strobe lights, a fog machine, fake tombstones and skeletons littering the front lawn, cotton cobwebs covering the windows, and a twitching zombie dummy set up on the front porch, connected to a motion sensor.
All in all, it was shaping up into a pretty fun night.
There's just something about Halloween. Ever since I was a little boy, it had been my very favorite holiday. More than Christmas and its gifts, Thanksgiving and its food, or Easter and its chocolate bunnies and eggs, Halloween was always first and foremost in my mind and heart.
In the beginning, it was, of course, all about the candy. The very concept of going up to random strangers' homes for free chocolates and sweets just blew my young mind.
It's still a pretty impressive concept to me.
Then, as I grew up and trick-or-treating became less age appropriate, Halloween became all about the spooky, supernatural and phantasmagorical. Let me tell you, I have one hell of a monster and horror movie and book collection. I even have a set of collector's edition classic movie monster action figures.
And of course, it was also about Devil's Night, a time to shed the shackles of rules and respectability and indulge in all matter of delinquent behavior.
I freely admit that there was a time in my life when I had a prominent hand in planning and putting into motion numerous pranks and acts of mischief around the neighborhood. Looking back now, there were one or two occasions when I was really lucky in not getting in serious trouble, or even arrested.
What can I say... ? I was a bit of a stupid and reckless teen. Thank God I eventually grew up and out of it.
But above and beyond it all, for some unknown reason, I've always loved dressing up in costumes. And I'm not talking about those cheap plastic masks and smocks that they sell at supermarkets. I mean real costumes, the more realistic and elaborate the better. Dressing up, imagining that I was someone or something else was one of the most enjoyable pastimes that I could think of. Over time, collecting and even making my own masks, costumes, and eventually special effects got to be something of a hobby of mine.
A hobby I actually honed and put to good use in the high school drama department. I was never an actor, but I was one hell of a stage hand and prop manager, occasionally dabbling in costumes, makeup and scenery.
Of course, I also used my knowledge and skills for fun!
This one time, I coordinated and carried out am elaborate John Woo style shootout at the school gym, while they were preparing for homecoming, with a half dozen of my friends. With some impressively well coordinated acrobatics, a handful of fake guns, and dozens of homemade squibs (exploding blood packs), it was a particularly bloody and action packed scene. There were quite a few screams of surprise amongst the student body, while others were left in slack jawed surprise and confusion. Happily I had thought ahead and spread the word amongst several people in the crowd in order to help keep the crowds calm. The last thing that we wanted was to have the cops show up, armed for bear, responding to a school shooting.
Don't worry, it was at the end of the school year, and I had got the principal's permission beforehand. He didn't exactly know what kind of "performance piece" we were going to perform, but then again, he didn't actually ask.
Tsk, tsk ... he really should have known better.
Still, we very luckily only got a slap on the wrist. I don't think that he wanted to explain what had happened to the school board. Oh, and we did have to clean the place up afterwards. The custodian staff was more than a bit pissed.
Amused, certainly, but still pissed.
Thank God I had somebody get it all on tape. It was awesome! You can probably find it on YouTube, if you want.
Anyways, my little sister Sam grew to share my love of Halloween. This year, she had chosen to dress up as David Tennant's Doctor Who.
Yes, to my immense pride and amusement, my little sis was a budding sci-fi and fantasy geek. On the other hand, Mattie and our mom were pretty exasperated and confused by her interests.
It took some time to scrounge up and alter the appropriate clothing, but I eventually made it just in time. With her shoulder length brown hair up in pigtails, she wore a blue four-buttoned suit, a white shirt, a red tie and a pair of running shoes, with a light brown overcoat. Finishing up the whole ensemble was a toy sonic screwdriver, which lit up and made a whirling sound when a button was pressed.
My parents thought that it was too much for a costume that she would only use once or twice. A part of me agreed with them - especially the part that was paying for it - but the smile on her face and her extreme excitement when I presented her with the outfit were compensation enough for the time and money spent.
Naturally, I was dressed up as well.
I had initially dressing to match her, maybe going as Captain Jack Harkness, but after taking care of Mattie's costume, I really didn't have the cash or time to spare. Instead, I was wearing a costume I already had prepped in my collection – a Marine Corps uniform in desert camouflage pattern, with Captain's rank insignias and the appropriate badges for an experienced, modern soldier. The whole outfit was as authentic as possible, except of course for the body armor (just a black, padded vest) and the weapon hanging over my shoulder.
.... There is more of this story ...