We were living in Statesboro, Georgia which is a great college town with a near perfect race relations record that I almost totally destroyed in a feverish rash of trick or treat craziness one Halloween evening.
On Halloween I am unrelenting in my desire to scare the pure hell out of all children and grown ups alike. I do have one rule. I try not to frighten very small children. My age limit would have to include the under six crowd. Anybody under six gets a free pass and a few treats but I wish I could go ahead and warn them their day is coming and it won’t be long. I refuse to go after the six and under crowd because I never wanted to create an incredibly traumatic event like a large, horrible witch causing them to soil their garments in public thereby making them want to kill me years later. I don’t want them to grow up as long suffering revenge seekers and come track me down and beat me like the old bad dog that I am. More accurately, I can’t stand to see little people cry
I have the perfect witch’s outfit. I’ve had it for years. The head is a full mask and it is truly terrifying. It is fourteen shades of blue and gray with burnt orange tinges to it. There’s fresh bright red blood around the mouth, eyes, ears and nostrils. It has a matted clump of jet black hair and a pointed chin with teeth spaced here and there like tombstones in a graveyard. Warts adorn the face in mad profusion and the pointed witch’s hat perfectly fits my pumpkin head.
It’s hard to believe how many grown men remember the horrors of a visit from my witch. Most of them still choose to stay away from my house on All Hallows Eve. I feel sure they are no longer fearful of the old gal. I think they just happen to be more comfortable someplace else.
The house in Statesboro had a six foot section of brick wall to the right of the front door as you faced the door (no escape route). To your left there was the rest of the front porch you were standing on. It was covered in plants and that end was blocked with more brick wall (no escape route). To run you had to do a complete 180 degree turn and fly down the three or four steps you had just come up to reach the porch.
When the great night arrived, I put on my witch’s costume and went out the front door. I was covered by a black cloth as I sat hidden in a rocking chair near the end of the porch. When the trick or treaters appeared, I would leap from the chair and cackle and scream and they would scream and cackle…..and run. The big ones would try to run through the brick wall on their right and, failing that, they would leap from the porch and raise dust clouds of relief as they ran. Safety and salvation was to be as far away from my front porch as possible.
This particular Halloween night business was slow and during a lull in the barely moving traffic, I fell asleep. The next group that made it to our front porch woke me. I was pretty groggy and I did not properly evaluate the size and the ages of those in the group.
I do know that there were several different nationalities of folks on my front porch. There were so many nationalities I thought I was being tricked or treated by a UN delegation. Two or three of the women were quite large but it was too late for me to put on the brakes.
I leaped out of the chair and screamed like a banshee from an old folk tale and I waved my arms danced up and down like I had been popped in the fanny by an electric cattle prod.
Unfortunately I had failed to notice two tiny girls right in front of the crowd. The little girls screamed right back at me and almost set me off in the great rush for safety. One little girl ran for cover with her mother chasing off after her in wild alarm screaming something in Spanish. I think she was alluding to the legality of my Christian birth.
The other little girl had jumped backward and had knocked her mama off into the shrubbery. Her mother was a large lady of color and when I got my first good look at her I realized she must have been over six feet tall and weighed a good 400 pounds.
As luck would have it big mama went right smack in the middle of one of those holly bushes that have all the sharp points along the edge of each leaf. She was making more noise than the two little girls and a whole party of drunk college boys combined.
Being the quick and alert guy that I am I decided my presence was really not needed at the moment. As I hurried past Katie Mae on my way around the corner of the house I said, “Tell her you don’t know me. Tell her you have never seen me before.”
I could still hear the woman hollering out front as I swept through my back door and ripped off that stupid witch’s outfit. I rushed out the front door and started yelling, “What’s going on out here? What’s happened to these lovely chillren?”
I don’t think my act fooled the little girl’s mama for a minute. After me and six of my neighbors got the big woman out of the holly bush I began to commiserate with her and I voiced my sympathy for the sad shape she was in and I assured her I was outraged at the hooligan who had caused this mess.
I got her calmed down but I could tell she was still irritable (more like really, really pissed off). I’ve never seen somebody poke out their lips that far and using that as a gauge, I commenced to pour more and more treats into her bucket. Yeah, she had a bucket for candy too and hers looked more like a five gallon paint bucket.
Finally I got her satisfied to the point she went back to her car. We had to loan her a wheelbarrow to carry all that candy. That’s the story of how I averted a huge race riot in Statesboro, Georgia. I give all the credit to me and my silver tongue and mostly to the 80 pounds of candy my neighbors chipped in to give to the woman so she wouldn’t kill me.