We arrived at our friend’s house for the annual Halloween get together. It is always on the Saturday before October 31st. The clear late evening sky and the two street lamps illuminated the neighborhood. We parked the car on the street, behind several other cars, walked up the street a few steps, and then walked across the front yard on the stone Path. The ground was still wet from the showers earlier in the day. The ground was covered with fall leaves. The amber, brown, red, colors of the leaves were still visible from the streetlights. The sounds of stepping on wet leaves, squish…squash added a little creepiness to the Spooktacular party we were about to attend.
Their house was big enough to accommodate a large crowd. As we approach the house, frosted glass on the front door showed bright lights and shadows of people moving around. My friend had perfected their annual Halloween party. The door sign read “Walk-in-dead”. With a chuckle, I pushed the door open and we were met by a tall witch prop, dressed in black and torn dirty white rags. Aaaaa…the kids made a shaking noise. Nancy and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
My friend greeted us with weird accent; “My name is Count Dracula, I bid you welcome” and then hugged us. The kids broke away from us and disappeared into the house.
First things first. I had my priorities straight. I went straight to the freaky food and beverages tables, grabbed a plate, piled up on a couple of Graveyard chicken enchiladas, several pumpkin deviled eggs; and for my beverages, I chose… bloody Mary syringes and a batch of brain Jell-O Shots. Now I was ready to mingle.
A quick gaze showed the walls and ceiling veiled in cobwebs and large black spiders with red dots on them. Several carved illuminated pumpkins and monster props were placed oddly inside the house. The people were in full Halloween costume garbs, as though they were trying to compete with each other for the scariest dress up.
It always amazes me how people have turned this morbid, haunting idea into a celebration. Well, here I am, dressed in a black long shirt with a “most prone to lose the costume contest” look on my face. Oh well, who cares…let’s have some fun!
I joined a laughing crowd in the library adjacent to the living room. The library was a big room and dimly lit. Yet, it seems like everyone was gathered close to the library door. Gossip talk, quick jokes filled the group conversation. Everyone laughed with a mouthful. Suddenly the library felt a little colder. I heard my friend yelled across the living room, “Hey Manuja, can you please light the fireplace. The matches are on the mantle.” I obliged, feeling slightly buzzed from…the bloody Mary and Jell-O.
I walked over to the fireplace on the other side of the library. An antique dark wood framed high wing back leather chair was nicely placed perpendicular to the fireplace. Must be an heirloom, I thought to myself. A little boy dressed in a black and orange plaid long sleeve shirt and an overall was sitting in the chair. Flipping through pages of an old-looking book.
In my non-sober loud tone, I asked; “hello young man, what’s going on?”
The boy replied; “Just reading”, in a soft voice.
Me: “What'cha Reading?”
Boy: “Paul Bunyan, the Giant Lumberjack”, he muttered.
Me: “Cool. Hey, my son and daughter are probably playing Mario Kart in the basement. Do you want to meet them?”
Boy: “Sure, I’d like that. Thank you, mister”, as he raised his head to me with a smile.
Me: “OK. Let me light the fire first…”
Boy: “My grandpa, always lit the fire before he reads to me.
Me: “Sounds like a pretty cool grandpa. I would like to meet him”.
Boy: “He’s somewhere here”.
I parted the mesh screen in the fireplace and open the damper of the chimney. Several fire bricks were already stacked in the place. I pulled out the extra-long wooden safety match from the box, then struck against the bricks, and then held the lit match under the bricks. The bricks burst into flames in no time. I took in the first warm breath of wind while closing the mesh screen. It felt so good.
Me: “It’s getting warmer already”, I said turning to the kid. “What is your name son?”
Jacob: “Do you know Paul Bunyan ate 40 bowls of porridge a day?”.
Me: “Yep. Do you know, he was so big at the age of one week he fit into his father’s clothes”?
Jacob: “Woah, the boy replied with a big smile”.
The flickering flames shadow glared on his face.
Jacob: “Do you know his pet was an ox!”
Me: “Yes, I answered cheerfully. The OX was so big, that his hooves created all the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota”.
Jacob’s smile even became bigger. Shadows of the flickering flames glared on the boy’s face. He look so cute.
Me: “Jacob, do you know that one day, Paul Bunyan was dragging his ax while walking around, it created the Grand Canyon.
Jacob giggled with clenched fists.
Then I felt a shoulder tap. “Dude, thank you for reading my mind”, It was Count Dracula! “What do you mean?”, I asked him. He replied, “I was going to ask you to light the fire when I heard a knock on the front door. So, I went to answer it”. “No, I’m very sure you called me by my name and asked me to light the fire. It got cold, just when you asked for the favor”, I continued. “Yes, that’s because I looked around with the front door open. But no one was outside. Anyway, Manuja, who are you talking to?” I said, “Oh, meet my new friend, Jacob. He came with his grandpa”. I turned and pointed to the high wing back chair. But no one was there. Just a book nicely placed - Paul Bunyan, the Giant Lumberjack.
Ha, Jacob! We are told that this house is built on a Homestead land. A kid named Jacob died from tuberculosis in the 1940s.
Boo! Happy Halloween!!