The Halloween House
They called it the Halloween House. When Easter came and
everyone in the neighborhood competed to see who could hang
the most plastic eggs from their trees, the maples on the
lawn of 124 Meadowbrook were decorated only by spring buds.
They put no shamrocks on the door for St. Patrick's Day, no
gourds on the porch for Thanksgiving, no flag in the window
for Canada Day. Even at Christmas, they didn't so much as
string up lights. But on Halloween . . . that's when they
outshone everyone on the block, with tombstones, ghosts,
bats, skeletons, cobwebs, everything one could imagine. And
it all happened in one night. Like Christmas, we'd go to
bed on October 30th and the lawn at 124 Meadowbrook would be
festooned only with fallen leaves. But, come morning, it
would be transformed into a child's dream of Halloween come
Despite all this work, the inhabitants of the Halloween House
never gave out candy. Occasionally, a new kid would ring
the doorbell, but most of us grew up knowing not to bother.
Who lived at 124 Meadowbrook? No one was quite sure.
Somebody did, we all knew that. Lights went on and off,
voices could be heard from the street, shadows passed over
the window. Some people said they'd seen people collecting
the mail or putting out the garbage, but no one could agree
on what they looked like. Grownups, and most of the kids,
seemed to accept this with an astounding lack of curiosity.
Randall and I did not.
Randall Parks and I been best friends since first grade,
when my mother baby-sat him, back in the days before my dad
left and Mom started teaching again. For as long as I could
remember, Randall and I had wondered about the Halloween
House. We made up stories about the inhabitants--axe-
murderers, fairies, vampires, you name it, we considered it.
Then, at the advanced age of eight, we decided we were old
enough to find out for ourselves and thus began the annual
Devil's Night Stakeout. Each October 30th, we'd sneak out,
armed with a thermos of hot chocolate and candy