We had waited restlessly from dim dawn to drizzly dark.
It was a brumal October day in Oregon that boded well for a spooky evening of trick or treating. Misty rain and heavy, grey clouds palled over the day like a heavy, wet, grey blanket. It was dismal really. A long crooked line of raked leaves lined Meadowview Road on both sides like two parallel giant snakes that had gorged themselves and couldn’t move. They lay there, trying to slither away but helpless, awaiting the monster that would ramble down the road and suck them up into its bowels.
Four year old Paul wore his ill-fitting Power Rangers costume he’d worn the year before – and all year long. He had found that the new Ninja costume he got this year did not confer the same powers, so he fell back on Old Faithful, which permanently showed off his bright red Lego socks and kept riding up his crotch, the taut row of stitches now stretched menacingly like the teeth of a snarling dog. Oh well, super-heroes have these problems too and he was not to be talked out of it. His large eyes teared up at the thought of replacing it and big tears fell onto his chubby cheeks and dribbled onto his quaking lips.
“Fine,” Mum had said, “you can wear the darned thing.”
The air was alive with excitement. Not only did he get to wear his costume all day along with other kids, but there were bags of candy to be handed out to fellow goblins and super-heroes at dark. Paramount, was that uncle Matt was coming to the party that night. Paul loved Uncle Matt. He loved to call him Bath Matt at which point Uncle Matt would growl fiercely, attack Paul and rub his pokey stubble on Paul’s little face making him squeal with convulsive delight and wriggle to get free.
As Paul and I were unpacking our costume tote, Paul’s stubby fingers held up a white plastic gadget. It was a half-dome about 4 inches high that had a string attached to it. Draped over the plastic was a white piece of nylon fabric with a ghost face painted over it. When activated by motion, the battery-operated Cosper would jiggle and dance enthusiastically, produce flashes of bright light, and make a horrific howl. After a fine initial scare, Paul enjoyed turning it on and off and watching it dance. It rattled against the floor which further reverberated and added to the din.
“Let’s use it to scare Uncle Matt,” said a very exhilarated Paul. We skulked around the house looking for a perfect spot. The bright windows were an impediment so we needed to find a dark place to accentuate the flashing lights. We settled for the bathroom which would be dark and enclosed – the perfect set-up. He giggled uncontrollably as he turned it on and off several times with the bathroom lights off and watched the little devil dance.
“Oh man, he’s gonna cry like a little girl!” laughed Paul till his sides ached.
I asked him to come get the table set for dinner. He set the ghost so it was ready to activate, jumped lithely off the counter, and shut the door gently.
He hopped onto the kitchen counter to get plates then carried them carefully to the table. Dad would be home any time and Paul couldn’t wait to show him the booby trap. He grabbed the silverware and napkins.
“Mum, you’re the oldest, so you sit at number one,” he said to engineer-minded self, hopping onto my dining chair, clumsily placing a plate at my spot, and hopping off. “Dad is next, so he sits at number 2,” and he hopped onto dad’s chair, set dad’s place, then hopped off. “Then me,” he hopped onto his chair, set his place, and hopped off. He scooted brother’s high chair noisily next to my seat. “When brother is older he will sit at number 4.”
“I love it when we have masanya for dinner. Do I have to eat my salad?” he queried hopefully.
“Yes, son.” I answered absently, backing off the opened oven door as the heat rushed out. I took off the bulky silicone oven mitts after I set the lasagna on the stove to cool.
“Go get your brother please.” He tore off to their bedroom to wake his brother up. After a few minutes I heard them chattering away then galloping down the hallway headed my way.
“Wash your hands,” I hollered, and hit send on a text to Justin to get his ETA.
Suddenly, a single ear-splitting scream pierced the house to it’s foundation. My heart stopped and froze in horror. “Oh God,” I thought, aghast, and bolted in their direction in dread. They stood transfixed, screaming at the top of their lungs. Blabbering and bawling they broke out in a crazy dance around each other punctuated by more screaming.
As soon as I got there, they both leaped into my arms in a single choreographed bound and buried their curly heads in my neck, tears and snot mingling freely, little chests heaving in terror. A shaky little finger pointed to the dark bathroom. Over the din and confusion, I heard the tell-tale sound of old Cosper jiggling and bumping the bathroom door ominously his lights flashing like lightning. It must have seemed that the cavernous earth had opened it’s hungry giant bowels to snatch up my boys. They were inconsolable and I couldn’t put them down the rest of the night.
Uncle Matt has never stopped laughing at this and relishes bringing up the ghost of Meadowview Road.