Subject: New Halloween Story
Date: 07 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT
From: jimvan@NOSPAMgate.net (Jim Vandewalker)
Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free, alt.slack
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
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
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
"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
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
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