Subject: New Halloween Story

Date: 07 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT

From: (Jim Vandewalker)


Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free, alt.slack


President's Day



Spencer's in the Mall always has a selection of masks, along with the fake

dog turds and the edible underwear and the Star Trek communicators, but

this looked like someone had planned to really saturate the market and had

rented one of the empty stores and filled it up with Halloween



I had a walk through and looked at the Freddy Kreugers, and hockey masks,

C- 3PO's and Chewbacas, and deformed dwarves and not especially life- (or

death-) like skulls, South Park characters and Power Rangers, all hanging

like deflated rubber bags on their pegs.


Down low and over to one side, behind a grey with one eye gone, was

something that must have been left over from a long time ago-- Richard

Nixon. He didn't look as floppy as the other masks did, with their inverted

noses and everted eyesockets. His jowls, appropriately blue, nevertheless

had a kind of life-like fullness that made picking him up somehow

unpleasant, like handling an actual severed face. He -- it -- was heavier

than I expected.


They wanted $13.25 which I thought was an odd amount. I hadn't planned to

spend anything; I didn't have anywhere to wear a Halloween mask. But but I

had just won $29.75, hitting four numbers on the lottery and somehow I

found myself standing at the counter while the bored teenage clerk stuffed

the president into a bag. She asked me if this was Reagan or one of those

president guys, and I said yeah, one of them. The total came out to $13.75

which meant she undercharged me by twenty-five cents, but I didn't feel

like trying to explain how to figure six percent to someone whose idea of

ancient history was the Reagan administration.


In the parking lot I threw the bag into the back seat of the car and

decided to go to the thrift store to see if they had any new old science

fiction. From the book section you can hear the steady scritch, scritch of

hangers sliding on clothes racks as customers look for something near their

size. Most of them don't look like they spend a lot of time coordinating

their look.


Usually when given to Goodwill, things like the components of a suit go in

all different directions but they actually had a rack of complete men's

suits there, both two and three piece. One was a blue serge with an

expensive New York label. Somebody died, I guessed and the widow, or heirs,

or whoever, got a tax write-off for a whole box of clothes. I slipped the

coat on; it had a kind of clammy, heavy feel, but fit perfectly. There was

an orange tag stapled to the sleeve, saying they wanted $15.50 for it. I

stood considering for a while and then it occurred to me that with the

mask, I now had a complete Halloween costume for under $30.00.


The cashier had an interesting collection of facial tics but managed mostly

to hit the right keys. I thought that with the sales tax it should have

come to about a nickel less, but I really didn't want a long conversation

with this guy, especially since I could see how it would end. He wouldn't

let me keep the hanger either.


At home I put both bags on the bed in the spare bedroom. There is usually a

little cool weather during the first part of October here in Florida, but

by Halloween it's hot enough again to get you sweating inside your mask.

This year the warm spell came earlier and I began to wonder if that blue

serge would be too heavy and too hot.


"For what?" I thought. "Am I planning to go trick or treating?"


I began to think more and more about the suit and mask but for some reason

I didn't try either on until Friday. Since Halloween was on a Saturday this

year there was the usual confusion about whether the kids would be out on

Friday or Saturday or both. I figured I'd better be prepared for both and

on Friday evening I set a bowl of candy beside the door and went and got

the two bags from the spare room.


I found a white shirt and a red tie and pulled the suit out of the bag. It

was heavy wool and hardly creased at all. I was surprised that even the

pants fit, although there was something uncomfortable about the waist. I

picked up the bag with the mask in it and hefted its weight which shifted

slightly like a bag of some unpleasant fluid. I put the bag down and pulled

on the coat. It was cool this evening and the coat felt clammy when I put

it on.


The doorbell rang and I could hear little kids on the steps. I pulled the

mask out of the bag and slipped it on and opened the door. My hands went up

above my shoulders, fingers in vee signs.


"I am not a crook!" I boomed in a hollow voice, and a small scarecrow and

even tinier witch screamed in real terror and ran back down the driveway. I

must have looked ten feet tall looming up at the top of the steps. A mother

or older sister glared at me from the street.


"I have a secret plan to end the war!" I called and closed the door. It was

suddenly hard to breathe in the mask, and I leaned against the door while I

pulled at my -- at its jowls. I threw the mask on the coffee table and

stood for a moment in the kitchen doorway, looking into the darkened living

room with the mask lying on the coffee table. The eyeholes were very dark.


Either the kids spread the word or the darkened living room discouraged

other trick-or-treaters because no one else rang the bell. Steve and Donna

called and asked me to come over Saturday night and have a pizza and beer.

I said I would and hung up the phone and struggled out of the blue suit. As

cool as it was, I was sweating when I tossed it on the bed. For some reason

I very carefully put the mask back in the bag and then closed the door to

the spare room.


Sure enough, it was much warmer on Saturday, the actual day of Halloween. I

opened the door to the spare room a couple of times and looked at the suit

and the -- bag-- lying there, trying to decide whether or not to wear the

suit and the -- other thing. Steve hadn't said, but Halloween at his house

usually meant masks.


"It'll be too hot," I thought.


"Good lord," I thought "what am I thinking? It's just a suit and a-- and a

-- a mask. A rubber mask. At least the people at Donna and Steve's are old

enough to know who Nixon is."


It was dark and a little cooler when I pulled on the suit and took the mask

out of the bag. Steve and Donna live only a couple of blocks away and I

decided to walk and see if I could find some adolescent hobgoblins to

scare. I put the mask under my arm while I locked the door and then stood

on the steps and put it on. I stepped sideways and looked at my reflection

in the darkened living room window. The street light was behind me and I

couldn't tell if I looked much like Tricky Dick. All I could see was a

silhouette and glittering eyes.


It wasn't as hot out as I thought it would be and I could see better than I

expected. There were two goths on the corner under the streetlight.


"My fellow Americans--" I began, but they must not have seen me coming

because they both started violently and stepped back against the hedge.

"Expletive deleted," I said as I strode past them.


Further up the street was lone figure. When I got closer I could see it was

someone with a Lyndon Johnson mask. He stepped in front of me and was

silhouetted against the streetlight. All I could see was an outline and

glittering eyes.


"Dick, boy! How you doin'!" he boomed. "C'mon--we're all gittin' together."

He stepped toward the sidestreet and gestured me to come with him.


"Uh, no, Mr. President," I said. "I just want to say I have another



But he wouldn't move, and I had to step around him. A little further down

the street was another figure. He came up into the light with a cigarette

holder clenched in his teeth. He was walking with crutches, but he didn't

seem to need them.


He said, "The only thing you have to fear is fear itself." and I shivered

violently in the clammy blue coat.


I turned back toward the light looking for the guy in the Lyndon Johnson

mask. There was a high iron fence bordering the sidewalk, and I looked

through the palings at the rolling lawn ... trying to remember ... there

wasn't ...


A big car pulled up in the street behind me. It was a huge open convertible

with a single figure in the back seat. I pulled at my jowls trying to get a



The car rolled to a silent stop under the streetlamp and I could see the

glittering eyes. He turned his head toward the two on the sidewalk, and I

could see the gaping wound in the back of his head.


"Lyndon, Franklin. Aren't you glad to see Dick hee-ah?" He leaned forward

and spoke to the driver who got out of the car and came around to where I

was standing and opened the door.


"No!" I said. "It's not -- I'm not --" I couldn't get the words out "I am

not a crook!" I blurted. The blue coat was heavy across my chest.


"Nevah mind, Dick. Don't worry about that. We're all getting togethah to go

around to the House. Get in." He gestured toward the iron fence and I could

see a big white house, dim at the top of the rolling lawn. I stepped back

away from the open car door. The driver was wearing a peaked cap and a

high-collared uniform and I couldn't see his face. His hands were ... his

hands ...


The two figures on the sidewalk came up behind me and I could feel one of

the crutches on the backs of my legs, chivvying me toward the car. My

fingers fumbled at the buttons of the coat. The bone of the driver's hands

clicked on the chrome door handle of the car. I clawed at the red necktie,

like blood from a cut throat in the harsh streetlight.


Pushed closer to the car I could see something like a piece of a broken

bowl stuck to the top of the back seat. It was stuck in ... there was ...

there was something dark and sticky on the seat ...


With a wrench that gouged the side of my throat I pulled off the tie and

heard buttons pop off the coat and tink on the side of the car. I hauled at

the mask with both hands, trying to get my hands under my -- under its

jowls -- hooking my fingers into my eyes - the eyeholes -- pulling --


The mask came loose with a rip and I flung it in the street. The ripped

place was dark with -- dark -- and it quivered there against the curb, the

eyeholes looking up at me.. The big car rolled silently away. I stood alone

on the sidewalke, gasping, and stripped off the blue coat, my head

swimming, rubbing the abrasion on the side of my neck.





Jim the Prophet

Licensed SubGenius Preacher