Trick or Treat
I love Halloween. I'm thirty-one, but I still love it. I mean, who
doesn't love candy?
I still live at home. I don't mind it, except for the dinner table. I
said to my parents, "I've been sitting in the same seat my whole life. Let
me sit at the head of the table." And my mom said, "The table's round.
There's no head of the table." I got mad, because dad's seat is the head
of the table, even if the table's round. But I didn't say a thing.
None of my friends go trick-or-treating anymore. They stopped going
about fifteen years ago. I didn't. I said, "Do you still celebrate
Thanksgiving? Christmas? Birthdays? So, why not Halloween?" Actually, I
don't have many friends; I said this to them when I was growing up.
Halloween's a big deal for me. Around the first of the year, I start
thinking about my costume. I write down ten or twenty ideas and then, over
the summer, I narrow down the list. By September, I've got a pretty good
notion of what I'm gonna wear. I do all this planning because when I was
seven, I almost didn't have a costume. I couldn't think of what to wear,
and all of sudden it was October 31st, and I didn't have a clue. My dad
gave me some of his old clothes, and said, "If anyone asks, tell them
you're dressed as a parent." So I did. I went as a parent, and it sucked.
I don't have a job. When I was young, I killed my third grade teacher.
I didn't mean it. I got in an argument and I hit her in the chest twice,
and she went into shock and died. She had had a heart condition, which I
didn't know about. They sent me to a different school, where you learn
things a lot slower.
Tonight, I'm dressed as Dracula. I got the cape, the fangs, the white
makeup, and the fake blood dripping down my mouth. I think I look pretty
good. I guess it's a little weird walking around the neighborhood. My
parents ask me to stay home and help them hand out the candy, but I say
I leave right when it gets dark. My first stop is across the street.
"Hi, Mrs. Ryder," I say. "Trick or treat."
"Oh, hi, Davey. David, I mean." She drops some Milky Ways into my
"How's Johnny?" I say.
"Oh, he's fine. Married, still. He just…he just bought a house." She's
turned sideways, sort of behind the door, like she's holding back a dog,
but I don't think she's got a dog.
"Tell Johnny I say hi," I say.
"I sure will," she says.
"Do you like my costume?" I say. I raise my arms, so the cape stretches
out behind me. Then I bare my fangs and hiss. She gets all scared and
closes the door. It's a real good costume.
I walk to a bunch of houses and then I get in my dad's car and drive.
I've been doing this the last few Halloweens; I drive for an hour and stop
in some random town and go trick-or-treating. I always wash the car on the
morning before, because I like when it's all clean and vacuumed inside.
Sometimes the car gets egged, and I get mad, but the kids run away too
I picked a good neighborhood; every house has lights. I walk up to one
and knock. A woman answers, and she's real small.
"Trick or treat," I say.
"Hello," she says. She looks behind me, at the car, and then she says,
"Where's your kid?"
"What kid, ma'am?" I say. And I know she's gonna say something like,
'You're a little old to be trick-or-treating, aren't you?' So I just say,
"trick or treat," and I stretch out my cape and hiss.
She closes the door, and I figure it's just a big misunderstanding, so
I ring the bell, but nothing happens. No footsteps, nothing. So I ring it
again, and then the outside lights go off, and I'm kind of angry because
I've walked all the way up the driveway. I bang on the door. Finally, a
man answers. He's a few years older than me, but I'm bigger. He's got
glasses, and I don't like him.
"What the fuck do you want?" he says, all angry.
"Trick or treat," I say.
"Get the fuck off my property," he says, pointing, and now I'm thinking
about that teacher I hit. He shuts the door, and that's probably a good
thing, because my fists are all clenched.
I used to go to a shrink. She said that whenever I get mad, I should
stop for a second and say all the words that come from 'anger.' She said
this would temper my aggression. So I say them. 'Range, rang, age, rag,
nag, ran, earn, gear, near, ear, era, are, an.' 'Rage' is in there, too,
but she told me not say that one. "Let's take the rage out of anger,"
I say the words real fast. I know them by heart, because this happens a
lot. I'm still thinking about how I'd like to stick this guy's head under
a paper cutter, so I say them again. Then I say, "Fuck you, you
motherfucker," and I kick the pumpkin off the stoop. I get in the car and
I circle the block a few times. My shrink tells me to avoid violence.
She also tells me not to run away from my problems. This confuses me,
because most of my problems deal with violence. I figure she's giving me a
riddle, but I can't figure it out.
I park a few houses away. I want to talk to the guy. But when he opens
the door, I just get angry and punch him right in the face. He stumbles
back and I hit him again, and he falls on the floor. His lip is split, and
he's got blood running down his mouth, just like me. I see the Snickers on
the counter and I throw a few into my pillow case. The woman starts
screaming. My hand hurts. I tell her if she calls the cops, I'll kill her.
Then I run to the car and drive fast. The street's near the highway, so
When I get home, I count up my candy. It's the worst Halloween I've
ever had, worse than when I was seven. My mom comes in and looks at me,
and I can see that she's upset about the candy on the floor, so I tell her
that I'll pick it up. "Where did you go?" she says, and I say I went west
a bit. She says, "Don't forget to change out of your costume," and I tell
her I won't. "You shouldn't wear that stuff to bed," she says, and I say,
She leaves, and I walk into the bathroom and wash my face. I curl the
cape around me. Next year, I think I'll be a ghost.