The big night had arrived: Halloween! This year was special. For the first time, Liam and Sally were going trick or treating on their own.
To be honest, I’m wasn’t a big fan of the idea. Liam wasn’t quite eleven yet, and Sally was only seven. They approached my husband and I earlier in the month about it. My husband was immediately on their side, claiming I was overprotective. Deep down, I knew he was right. It didn’t mean I liked it.
The sun was setting on the chilly autumn day as I let a giggling Ninja and Wonder Woman out the front door.
“Remember, stay together, don’t go into any houses, and stay on this street!” I called after them as they skipped off.
I managed to fill my time folding laundry, handing out candy to eager trick or treaters and allowing my vivid imagination to run wild thinking of the possible ways the day could go wrong.
Less than an hour passed when the front doorbell rang for what seemed like the millionth time. I grabbed the bowl of candy and opened the door expecting to see pint sized princesses and gallant knights from the neighborhood. Much to my surprise, my kids were already back.
“Did you forget something? Or have you changed you minds and want me with you?” I asked, hopefully.
The children silently walked past me.
I locked the door and followed them into the living room.
They sat on the sofa, clutching their candy bags and staring at their feet.
“How was it?” I asked, trying to bring them out of their funk.
Liam shrugged and Sally let out what sounded like a sob.
For the first time, I noticed their pale faces. My stomach dropped. “Did something happen?”
“We went to one house. There was blood on the walls and two old people. They were covered in blood. The man gave Liam a treat, but the angry old lady kicked us out before he gave me mine.”
I sighed. People forgot it was a children’s holiday. “I’m sorry sweet girl. Some people take Halloween decorations a little too far.”
“The mean lady followed us.” Sally continued.
“We don’t know if was her,” Liam objected.
Sally rolled her eyes. “Of course, it was her. She had on the same fluffy slippers and bloodied green nightgown.”
I doubted it was the same lady and tried to make them see reason before their overactive imaginations meant they spent the night in my bed. “She was probably taking her grandkids trick or treating?”
Sally shook her head causing her tiara to fall. “She was alone. She even called us over, as if we would go near her after she yelled.”
Sensing I wasn’t convinced, Liam added, “I heard her telling one mother that she’s our grandma.”
I knew I should have gone with them. “What did you do?”
“We were cold, and she was creepy, so we ran home.”
“She followed us, but her slippers made her slow.” Sally said.
Not liking the sound of that, I went to look out the window. There was someone across the street staring at our house. The hair on my neck stood on end.
I was liking this less and less. “Where does she live?”
The kids exchanged a look before Liam spoke. “Shore Road. I know we weren’t supposed to go there, but Harry said they were giving out king-sized Hershey chocolate bars.”
“You risked getting grounded for a Hershey bar?” He didn’t like chocolate. Sighing, I opened the front door, and called out to the lady. “Yo! Go home before I call the cops.”
“Your brats have something of mine. Give it back!”
“Go home, lady!”
“My husband’s a liar and thief. He was trying to scare your kids.”
“You both did a great job of that. Next year, tone it down, granny. Now go away!” I locked the door and set the alarm.
At the window, I watched the woman walk away, and called my husband at his firehouse. I filled him in on the evening’s events. He laughed, claiming all the weirdos come out on Halloween and instructed me to call the police if she returned.
Don’t ask me how I did it, but I managed to get the kids to sleep by their bedtimes.
The next morning, I dropped them off at school. On my way home, I passed the park on Shore Road. A web of police tape covered the entrance and emergency workers buzzed around. Spotting my neighbor Ginny, I asked, “What happened?”
“Some guy was murdered last night. Stabbed. His body was dumped here.”
I shook my head. “What’s the world coming to?”
When I returned home, I remembered the kids’ Halloween candy. They put their bags on the dining room table before going to bed. I had to sort through the candy.
I emptied the bags on table and gaped. A bloody knife had fallen out of one of them. I picked up my cell to call the police when the house alarm started ringing.