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Unmasked

Unmasked



When I turned twelve my mother informed me that I was now officially too old to trick or treat. If memory serves, I stared at her blankly, slack jawed, before pulling myself together for a rebuttal. Unfortunately, she was not having it and my desperate pleas fell on deaf ears. I screamed, cursed, and eventually pointed out that most of the “kids” that came to our door were old enough to drive. Hell, I remember one particular werewolf who didn’t need a mask because he could grow his own costume fur. Sadly this did little to sway her. I was getting nowhere fast. I needed an angle, and I needed one quickly. How could I persuade the unpersuadable? Then it hit me: dad. Maybe if I could get my father to agree to take me out mom would go for it. It was a long shot, but it was all I had left.



I should, at this point, back up a bit. My parents divorced when I was nine. My father, looking to escape suburban hell, moved out. Not far out mind you, but far enough that getting back to the house for any reason was a major hassle, so the likelihood of his agreeing to take me trick or treating was slim to none. I kept my fingers crossed as I ran the idea by mom. To my surprise, she went for it. All that was left now was to convince my father, which would be a far more difficult task. Again, much to my disbelief, he too agreed. I was stymied. I was also going trick or treating.



Halloween seemed to take longer than usual to arrive that year, but when it did I was ready. I had decided weeks prior to go as the devil and had picked up my very first highly detailed latex mask and a pitchfork. The mask was a tad too big to fit me, but my mother assured me that she could alter it with a bit of electrical tape. My grandmother, not usually a fan of All Hallows Eve, even offered to hand sew me a cape. I was game. When all was said and done, I looked terrifying. If this was to be my final Halloween I could take pride in knowing that I was going out with a bang. Or as I would later learn, a whimper.



That night my father arrived at exactly five o’clock. I only remember this because I was still stuck sitting in a chair staring at the clock while my mother finished firmly securing my mask with what seemed to be an endless roll of electrical tape. After what felt like an eternity, she finally uttered that four letter word every hyper child being held hostage by a well meaning parent longs to hear: done. I grabbed my pitchfork and empty candy bag with one hand, my father’s arm with the other, and we ran out the door. Once freed I looked out amongst the sea of beckoning porch lights and breathed in the crisp fall air. Game on, I thought. Game on.



It didn’t take long for me to find my rhythm. I would leap from house to house, each time joining in the deafening chorus of children shouting trick or treat. My once sad, deflated pumpkin satchel was now so filled with candy it was nearly bursting at the seams. I was happy, and having walked the neighborhood completely I was also ready to head home.



Knowing that my father would probably want to get back to his new life I didn’t think he would mind. To my surprise however he suggested I try one more house. The one house I hoped to avoid.



At the end of my road was a house so dilapidated it looked as if it was one sneeze away from toppling over. Nobody ventured to this house. The porch light was on, but it was clear the neighborhood children avoided it like the plague. I too would have liked to have avoided it, but my father was insistent. I don’t know what he was thinking except that maybe he was trying to get me to come out of my shell, away from the anonymous protection of those wandering gaggles of masked mini-beggars. Either way I did not want to take one more step toward this house, but I knew instinctively that I would have to if I wanted to go home. I took a deep breath and slowly approached the front door. My plan was simple. When I arrived I would knock so lightly there would be little chance that anyone could hear me. This unfortunately was not to be, and when I crept up the stairs the front door swung open violently.

“Well what do we have here?” a gruff female voice cried out.

Terrified I mumbled, “Th..th..the devil, Miss.”

I wanted to run, but my legs seemed to be stuck.

“Oh the devil, huh?” she barked loudly. “ I don’t like devils.” she hissed.

I smiled nervously, forgetting that I was still masked.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am?” was all that I could get out.

“Well don’t just stand there, come in!” she ordered.

I turned quickly hoping my father would give me the signal to run, but instead he motioned for me to go inside. I took a deep breath and stepped forward.

“Isn’t it kind of late for trick or treating?” she asked angrily. I just stood there unsure how to answer. “Cat got your tongue, boy?” she bellowed.

Again I wanted to say something, anything, but instead I stood there frozen.

“Hmph.” she muttered as she reached forward, grabbing my mask by one of the horns, and slowly tearing it from my face. The electrical tape still holding it to the back of my neck had now been forcefully torn off. The pain was unimaginable, and although I wanted to scream I still stood silent. My eyes welled with tears.

“Well what do you want?” she cried.

“Nothing.” I said shaking. “Absolutely nothing.”

This wasn’t true. I wanted to cry. I wanted my father to realize I was missing, break down this woman’s door, and rescue me. I wanted this night to be over, but again I couldn’t muster any words so I continued to stand there silently.

“I’m waiting for an answer.” she demanded.

At this point my father must have finally taken notice of my lengthy absence, but instead of rushing to my aid he gently tapped on her front door.

“Hello.” he called softly as he slowly pushed the door open. “I’m looking for my son.”

“Oh hello, dear.” the woman said suddenly sounding very sweet. “He’s right here.”

“I think he had a bit of trouble with his mask so I was just helping him.” she cooed softly.

“What?!?!” I thought. No I didn’t have trouble with my mask, you ripped it off of me, is what I wanted to shout. Instead I still stood dumbfounded. My father apologized for any inconvenience I may have caused and grabbed me firmly by my sleeve. Just as we were about to exit this nightmare the woman stopped us.

“Please take this.” she said softly, handing me a Tootsie Roll.

“What do you say?” my father asked me almost condescendingly.

“Thank you.” I growled through gritted teeth.

“That wasn’t very nice of you, son.” he said sternly, but by this point I had already made my way outside.



Both of us angry, we walked home in total silence. I knew if I tried to tell him the truth he wouldn’t believe me so it seemed easier to not waste my breath. Once home, I angrily threw my bag of candy onto the dining room table. When my mother asked me how my night was I mustered my best fine, but it wasn’t fine. It was anything but fine.


Days later when tempers had cooled I told my father the whole story about what happened in that house. At first I was still worried he wouldn’t believe me but, mortified, he apologized profusely and told me that if I was ever in any kind of  trouble I could always come to him. He made me promise. He then promised me that next Halloween we could throw a party instead.


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kidcoffee Posted on Oct 05, 2015 at 06:00 PM

@onipar It really was. I would have much preferred a well meaning neighbor to have chased me with a chainsaw, but no dice. I got stuck with Momma. Thankfully though, despite her best efforts, she did not break my Halloween spirit. Thwarted it a bit that year, but I bounced back. Also thank you for the kind words.

onipar Posted on Oct 05, 2015 at 12:24 PM

Whoa, that's crazy! That old woman sounds like a real maniac for sure. Must have been terrifying as a child. Good story!

kidcoffee Posted on Oct 02, 2015 at 07:51 PM

It was one of the oddest moments of my life. Looking back I am still sad I clammed up so much, but I couldn't fathom what else to do. I wasn't sure what this woman was capable of. Odder still was her vanishing six months later. I don't know if she died, or just disappeared into the night, but her house was torn to the ground with all of her worldly possessions still inside. Also she really did resemble Momma only perhaps a tad more frightening...or at least twelve year old me thought so.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 02, 2015 at 07:40 PM

What a strange woman. It really isn't clear what she was trying to get out of you or accomplish. Sounds like an eccentric old lady with poor social skills. In my mind I keep seeing the old lady from "Throw Mamma From The Train" and "The Goonies". LOL

One thing is certain, that would be one very memorable final Trick or Treat night.

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