When I first met Audrey it was literally a matter of minutes before she started telling me about Scare the Children, her annual Halloween haunted house. The 2005 event was the only one I’ve ever participated in, although there was a long and proud tradition that went on for many years before it that had to be put on hiatus when we moved to a townhouse. Now that we own our own house, warnings were sent to the neighbors, streetlights were blacked out, and a small army of volunteers descended to help build platforms in trees, rig up fog machines, and otherwise convert our sweet abode into a scene from an Edgar Allan Poe story.
My main role in the setup was in helping Audrey procure a casket – yes, somehow I’m in a relationship with a girl who owns a casket. Audrey found one on Craigslist, the backstory checked out enough that we were confident the seller hadn’t procured it with a shovel and some late-night trespassing, and I found myself in the unusual position of loading a metal coffin into the back of the Subaru. Audrey was happy because she now has a centerpiece for her Halloween craziness, and I now feel confident that she won’t be able to argue should I ever decide I want a lifesize Han Solo in carbonite for my room.
Audrey’s preparation and hard work paid off on Halloween night, with about a hundred young visitors in varying states of terror. My role in the extravaganza was to stand near our front door, which we had enclosed in black fabric, while wearing all black. No one could see me, so I’d wait until they got candy and then growl at them as they turned around; kids screamed and parents yelled some things that may not have been appropriate for children’s ears. Other highlights included Nancy in the coffin, Shelly in a tree, Pete with chains and strobes on the side of the house, and Stephanie as a witch sitting in the corner of the yard while controlling a snake on a string that jumped out at people. The following day our eighty-plus year old Japanese neighbor, who has always been very quiet and seemed somewhat suspicious of the oddballs next door, came over and noted “Good job. I like that snake.”