Despite Superstorm Sandy’s best efforts last week, we made it through Halloween. We had a slightly higher number of kids this year than last year, but still not that many. We didn’t even finish off two bags of candy, despite more kids. We saw some really cute kids, their little faces happy and smiling as they loaded up their bags with Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. One little girl took a Peanut Butter Cup, looked at it and said “Ooh, what’s in this?” To which her mother replied “Don’t worry. If you don’t like it, Mommy will eat it.” Just a hunch, but from the way she was clutching that piece of candy I don’t think Mommy was going to get it, no matter what.
While watching the news over the weekend to get an update on the storm, I saw an interview with a person that does a haunted house every year for Halloween. Due to the storm they were going to have to cancel it this year. Somehow that story sparked a memory for me. It had nothing to do with Halloween, but it did include a haunted house. Sort of.
I don’t remember what time of year it was, but it was during the school year because everyone but my younger brother and I were at school. We were in the backyard playing before lunch with the sun shining brightly, warm enough that we didn’t need a jacket that day. There was a small hill at the back of my yard that led up to another street and a wooded area. At the top of the hill there was a small building, which I had only seen from down below, and which my older brothers had told me had been a chicken coop but had nothing in it now. They had also told me that the house beyond the old chicken coop was haunted, so I shouldn’t go near it. How they knew this I didn’t know, but at that age I thought they knew everything and I believed everything they said.
My younger brother and I must have gotten bored playing with our Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks because we decided to go up the hill a bit. The hill was sandy and there were lots of rocks of varying sizes mixed in. We threw rocks down the hill for a while and we pretended they were bombs hitting the ground and blowing our enemies to bits. At some point we went to the top of the hill. We moved toward the chicken coop and I picked up a couple of good size rocks to protect us in case the house really was haunted. The old chicken coop looked abandoned and there were already a couple of windows broken. I remember throwing a rock at one of the windows and it broke with a marvelous tinkling sound, like it was tickling my ears.
We took turns throwing our rocks at the windows, missing some and hitting others, laughing the whole time. We were pretty good shots for two little kids and were having the time of our lives. We had just picked up another round of ammo when a loud voice rang out from the direction of the house, telling us to stop. We both slowly turned toward the voice – if it was a ghost we didn’t want to see him. To our surprise, it was just an older man. To our horror, he was starting to come down the stairs to the yard and toward us.
We turned and started to run for the hill, no words necessary between us, and my heart beating in my throat. I figured he’d stop at the edge of his yard, but when I glanced back I was shocked to see that he was coming after us. We ran down the hill and tore across the back yard toward the door and safety. We ran inside and sat down at the dining room table, ready for lunch. Mom was in the kitchen and turned around when we came flying into the room, probably because the door slammed. Or maybe because we were both out of breath.
I’m sure my Mom was wondering what the heck was going on with the two of us, especially when the older man just walked right into the house. He was not a happy camper and told Mom we had broken some windows. When she asked us if we had, a brilliant explanation came to me and I told her it wasn’t us, it was two kids who looked like us. Needless to say, Mom didn’t believe us. She was pretty angry and I think she even threatened to tie us to a tree so we couldn’t get out of the yard. I should have learned at that point not to believe everything my older brothers told me, but unfortunately, it took me a few more years to learn that lesson.
So there was no haunted house that day and there was no haunted house this year for some people, nothing to give them their Halloween chills. Maybe next time I’ll talk about politics – now that would be scary.