This Hallowe’en was rather a ditsy but satisfying affair at our place. We’ve got a ritual that our late father evolved. He was an engineer – mechanical, electrical, electronic, optical, depending on the stage of his long career – and a creative fabricator of all sorts of stuff.
When my sister and brother were in the lower-to-mid elementary grades, and after we had moved here, where there’s always been a fairly active trick-or-treating kid culture, he created wonderful home-made costumes for them from scratch. One of them (for my brother at about age 9) was such a nasty, convincing melted-face head mask that it scared one of the smaller neighbor kids into a conniption when they encountered each other in the mystic dark.
In later years, Papa came up with a scary carved jack-o’-lantern each Hallowe’en, and mounted it so it had outstretched ghostly arms, to stand guard beside the front porch steps. The breakthrough was really when he found the Wiggling Hand in a novelty catalog…
I don’t know who concocted the combo of the realistic plastic skull and the wiggling hand in its final form. I think he started it – he had a rather Weasley Twins-ish sense of humor. Eventually the job of putting these particular items together passed to me, and I set-dressed it up a bit, with black velvet drapery capewise round the skull mounted over a red-lighted lamp on the front hall table, and the wiggling hand emerging from an “arm” consisting of a black negligee’s sleeve stuffed with paper. The hand rests in a wide dish of candy, the host surreptitiously clicks the switch hidden under the draperies, and the black-hooded skull, its cranial cavities glowing with red light from within, rustles its fingers suggestively amongst the Fun-Size Three Musketeers bars. This has startled more than one young person.
The younger generation got a little of its own back last Sunday.
There I was, still getting leaves off the front walk in front of the porch, and not at all finished with anything. It was about 5:15, still a good hour to go before sunset, and only mildly dusky. I had my back to the length of walkway leading down to the street, started to turn with rake in hand… and they were there.
Two little figures, both costumed and masked as ghouls. Maybe 7, no older, and about the same height, standing there side by side. “Ohh!” I exclaimed. “you’re scary!” They looked at me out of their eyeholes. “I don’t have my candy ready yet – just wait here, I’ll get it. You are so scary.” I put down the rake and went up the steps onto the porch. They turned, side by side, watching me. I looked back at them before going in the door. The three of us were in the moment. “Don’t say anything now,” I told them. They nodded silently.
I dashed to the kitchen, slid candy bars into two pie plates, and came back. The two of them were standing on the porch facing each other, each with his/her fingers probing delicately, playfully into the face-mask mouth or nose holes of the other. “Here you go,” I said and they stopped and turned side by side to face me. “One each, now,” I said. They looked at me – I caught a hint of a blue eye in one hole – and then, without a word, they departed.