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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Little Halloween Story

I received an e-mail about a thousand word contest concerning a severed head. So, here's mine. :)

Connor Devlin gripped his five year old son’s hand a little tighter as the darkness at the end of their street made walking more hazardous on the uneven sidewalk. His wife Jenny flicked her coat collar up, the chilly late October breeze picking up speed, and making her shiver. She glanced around at the tree branches brushing against each other, most nearly naked of their multi-colored fall display. Jim pulled plaintively on his Dad’s hand. He wore a Darth Vader helmet, black clothing, black cape, and carried a red tipped laser sword in his free hand. Connor looked down at his son, meeting the Minnie-me Vader’s solemn visage with a smile.
“Quit squeezin’ so hard, Dad,” Jim admonished. “If you’re scared, hold on to Mom’s hand.”
Connor and Jenny laughed appreciatively.
“I’m trying to keep you from taking a header into the sidewalk, Darth, you ungrateful little fidget.”
“I think we hit about a thousand houses tonight,” Jenny sighed, pointing at Jim’s Halloween sack, Connor carried in his left hand.
“I think we may have done ten or twenty houses. We could’ve hit a hundred if you hadn’t punk’d out, Mom,” Darth/Jim directed the Vader stare at his Mom with a giggle, when Jenny smacked the back of his helmet.
“It’s your fault he’s like this, Con,” Jenny accused, pointing her finger at the laughing Connor.
“Mmm…me?!” Connor pretended outrage.
“He’s your son.”
“How come he’s mine when his mouth starts annoying you; but he belongs to you whenever he does anything right?”
“I think aliens dropped me off at the house,” Jim inserted, looking from one parent to the other, hoping for a reaction.
“Don’t look at me, Darth,” Connor replied, pausing before they reached their driveway. “I’ve thought that for a long time. I think you’re only half right though. Nine months before you were born I went on a business trip. We took in a boarder named Freddy Kruger to keep your Mom company while…”
“Oh… this beat down is so on…” Jenny yelled as Connor had already bolted for their front porch, much to Jim’s amusement.
Connor turned at the steps, making defiant gestures at his wife.
“Dad!!” Jim cried out, pointing above Connor’s head.
Connor twisted around. A man’s severed head hung by a looped chain, its ends fastened by large nails driven into the detached skull’s ears. Jenny gasped, grabbing Jim up, and backed away to the street. Connor pulled, and flicked open the ten inch knife he always carried in one fluid motion. He grew up on the streets of East Oakland, California, and spent four years in the Marines to escape from the gangs. Connor felt civilization slipping from him once again. He’d seen severed heads before. Even in the dark, Connor knew the one hanging from his porch beam was a fake. He couldn’t figure who would pull a prank like this.
“Calm down, you two, it’s a fake,” Connor said, not taking his eyes off the front porch, and the area around it.
“Who…who would do this?” Jenny whispered, still clutching Jim to her.
“Don’t know, but I don’t much like it. Did anyone…”
A dog’s plaintive bark from inside their front door brought a smile to Connor’s face.
“Apparently, there aren’t any visitors inside the house.”
“Let Wolfy out, Dad!” Darth Jim ordered.
“By your command!” Connor retorted. “Stay here, Master, and I shall free our four legged security system.”
Connor moved carefully, his knife still in hand. He opened the screen, hearing their dog’s eager whine from inside. Connor unlocked and opened the front door, only to have their eighty pound shepherd/collie mix breed shoot out around the door. Instead of rushing to Jim and Jenny, Wolfy whipped around Connor’s legs, and launched over the porch rail. Growls mixed with startled screams at the side of the Devlin house. Connor vaulted the porch rail after Wolfy, landing in a crouch near the dog. He straightened, folding and pocketing his knife smoothly.
“Hey Jen, c’mon and see who Wolfy cornered,” Connor called out, shaking his head at the two figures dressed in ‘Scream’ masks and cloaks. Wolfy had dislodged one of the masks, uncovering a young woman’s face. The other figure’s costume was in tact, but lying beneath eighty pounds of dog. Connor whistled and Wolfy streaked to his side.
“Deb…Debbie!!” Jenny cried angrily, holding Darth/Jim behind her.
“Yep, it’s your bubblehead little sister,” Connor confirmed, as he reached down, grabbing the entire front of Debbie’s companion’s costume, and ripping the groaning figure up on tiptoes against the house. He pulled the figure’s mask off. “And… let’s see… yea, her sidekick boyfriend, Bill.”
“You need to put that damn dog to sleep!!” Debbie shouted angrily. “We…we were just having some fun.”
“I’d put you to sleep first, bubblehead,” Connor muttered, slapping Bill’s frightened face lightly. “Ha, ha, Bill, don’t ever let this ditz talk you into anything like this again. Are we clear?”
“Yes…yes, sir,” Bill mumbled, as Connor released the teenager.
“Boy, Aunt Deb, you could’ve gotten hurt,” Jim said, taking off his helmet.
“I’m still thinking about hurting her even now,” Jenny said through clenched teeth.
As Debbie rolled her eyes, and crossed her arms, Jenny shot forward and caught Debbie up by the ear, twisting it slightly. Debbie squealed, her hands waving as she danced around with her head tilting to ease the pain.
“Uh oh,” Jim muttered, dashing around his Dad, having been in the same unfavorable position a time or two.
“Trick or Treat?!” Jenny barked into Debbie’s ear. “Run along, Sis.”
Jenny released Debbie, and the girl sullenly rubbed her ear.
“That hurt!”
“Most hard learned lessons do. Call ahead next time.”
“Fine!” Debbie let Bill take her arm, and propel them both toward his car, Connor could see parked a few houses down the street.
“Wow… that was scary,” Jim announced happily.
“Yea… it was,” Connor agreed less happily, putting his arm around Jenny.


raine said...

That's one of the best severed head stories I've ever read, Bernard, lol!
Thanks for sharing. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I love a good halloween tale.

BernardL said...

Thank you, Raine, I'm happy you got a laugh out of it. Such was my intent. :)

Thanks, Charles, although I missed the contest deadline, I had fun writing it. :)

Beth said...

Teenagers and severed heads...seems appropriate.

BernardL said...

They don't use their brains anyway, right Beth? It was a running joke in our house. Either my daughter or son would say something 'teenager incredulous', and I'd accuse them of leaving their windows open and zombies snuck in and ate their brains. After that, it would always be, 'hey Dad,(fill in the blank) left his/her window open again'. :)

Virginia Lady said...

That was fun. I loved the dog cornering the pranksters. Very nice touch.

Merelyme said...

well i was hooked all the way through...nice job of luring the reader.

Leigh Russell said...

I like the way you slip in a little moral along the lines of most hard lessons hurt. A 'nice' scarey tale. I enjoyed reading it.

BernardL said...

I've had only a few great dogs in my life because they all lived past fourteen, VL, and it's difficult for me to keep them out of my writing. I'm glad you like their appearances. :)

Merelyme, I appreciate your comment, and glad the little story drew you in. Thank you.

Yea, Leigh, even when I'm writing about cold blooded killers, some moralizing sneaks in. Thank you. :)

The Man said...

I enjoyed the read. My son would love it.

BernardL said...

Thanks, Man, I based the boy on my Grandson. One Halloween, my wife and I went to visit him, and when we exited the car, my Grandson met us in a Darth Vader helmet and his underwear. :)

Barbara Martin said...

The part with the severed head made me jump...good stuff.

BernardL said...

Thanks, Barbara. :)

Vesper said...

Great Halloween story! :-)

And that Wolfy is so cute... I have to think of Deke... :-)

BernardL said...

Thank you, Vesper, it was fun writing a Halloween story with humor, and not an actual severed head. :)