A creepy little Halloween treat for you. Reprinted with permission from the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor.
The old man stood on his porch, glaring at the vandalized front yard. His lips were pursed with anger while he gripped the coffee mug so tightly the skin over his bony knuckles glowed white. A gentle breeze carried a two-foot length of toilet paper from a lower branch until it fell lazily on to his slippered foot. He seethed.
Just then a giggle erupted from the other side of his box elder shrubs before being instantly muffled. The old man didn’t even glance over. He knew the hooligans were there the whole time. He knew they were waiting for his reaction to the snowy transformation of his yard, every branch of every tree festooned with endless lengths of toilet paper.
“You have no idea who you’re messing with,” he croaked in the mischievous boys’ direction, his voice raspy but ominous. “You’ll be sorry.” And with that he walked back in the house and slammed the door.
That night — Halloween night — all the neighborhood kids laughed and gamboled up and down the streets, ringing doorbells, collecting candy and making merry. None of them acknowledged the old man’s house or the fact that they generally crossed the street to avoid it. The five young boys who had braved the property the previous night weren’t bragging about it any longer.
The next morning fingers of bright autumn sunshine reached through semi-bare branches of maples, sumacs and elms. Discarded candy wrappers danced down the sidewalks, no doubt left by a few impatient children who couldn’t wait to sample their haul. Most of the neighborhood kids were still tucked in bed with full tummies and budding cavities.
Most of them.
The old man’s trees were still draped with tattered remnants of Charmin’s best double-ply. So much TP, in fact, passers-by wouldn’t even notice the five white bundles of tightly wrapped tissue paper hanging from the lower branches. The growing breeze made it difficult to tell if they were wiggling or swaying.
The home’s sole occupant chuckled as he scrabbled across the wood floors to answer the door. The bored policeman who had been dispatched to find a suspected runaway sixth grader squinted at the name etched in brass above the doorbell.
“A. Rachnid,” he murmured to himself, trying the name out before he addressed the homeowner. “Mr. A. Rachnid.” The door swung open.