When fright becomes scary

By Steve Estes

We are just a short time away from my favorite holiday.

I guess my personal liking for Halloween started as a result of my formative years being spent in staid and stuffy southwest Ohio. If you grew your hair too long, wore your shorts too short, drove too slow-or fast, or did anything else a little different from everyone else, you were considered weird.

I now wear that badge proudly. And live somewhere that the moniker isn’t immediately a resort to cross-eyed looks and rolled-back eyes.

Halloween, you see, was the great equalizer.

When everybody was in costume, we were all different. When we were all different, we were all the same.

Or something like that.

As a kid it made no difference. Most of the costumes were either store-bought, or made from a store-bought idea, although my Mother, knowing that Halloween was a kick for me, usually went out of her way to provide homemade attire for that year’s theme.

As I got older and moved from Ohio, I was able to open up and do costuming the right way, or at least right in my book.

One of my all-time favorite costumes is the vampire. There are so many variations and off-shoots of that one that no two years were the same.

And, I liked to be able walking around telling people, “Show me your neck…I just want to suck your blood.”

Many years ago, not two decades but more than one, my costume was of the immobile kind.

I put a square black box on the front sidewalk, dressed myself in a vampire costume, extra bloody if you please, and filled the box with fluorescent painted sand.

I used the box as my own coffin, and it had a handle on the inside I could use to raise and lower the lid.

As kids came up the sidewalk, I would rise slowly from the box with a bowl of candy in hand. They had to get close enough to get their treats.

A few laughed at it, some were frightened by it, and some cared little except that I had candy in my hands.

But one young girl, I want to guess maybe nine or 10, came up the walk very rapidly. I only had a small slit in the lid to see them coming, so she was on me before I could start rising from the box. She got to the door and rang the bell. Of course, no one answered.

I had seen her go by, so I went into my routine. She got no answer at the door, turned and started to leave.

There I was, with fake blood dripping, creepy music playing in the background, and low lights.

I have to admire her courage. She had no idea I was there until she almost ran into the box in her haste.

When her eyes hit me, her reaction would have made a world-champion foosball player green with envy.

She took one look at me, her eyes got as big around as trash can lids, or so it seemed, and in one simple, swift motion, she spun all the way around with her burlap bag (no easily breakable plastic shopping bag for me—oh no) in her fist, filled with the night’s take, and slammed it right against the side of my head.

It shocked me so much I spilled the candy on the ground.

She flipped her hair at me, scooped up all the candy in range, and ran back down the sidewalk.

The blood dripping from below my eyes was no longer fake. She darn near knocked me senseless.

A little boy, kindergarten range I think, just coming up the walk, saw the whole thing. Well my routine was no longer scary for him. He waltzed right in, gathered up all the candy he could hold, turned and threw a piece back at me, and strolled back down the sidewalk to meet his Mom, who by the way, was laughing nearly uncontrollably.

I spent the rest of the evening upright in the box to prevent further catastrophe—to me anyway.

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