This is a story I wrote for a class during my first semester at Columbia College.

October 10, 2007

What is it with Halloween and pranks? You can count on reading a story in the paper every November 1st about some kids running around a town smashing pumpkins in everyone’s driveway. Throwing eggs at windows is another popular one. I never got into the prank scene. I think it was mostly not wanting to feel bad about it an hour later that kept me from it. I didn’t want shampoo poured in my yard to foam up at the next rain so I didn’t want to make anyone else experience that either.

The thing is that other people don’t think like that. Other teenagers want to ruin other peoples’ lives apparently. The brats in my neighborhood were no exception. We would wake up every November to a street full of trash and food.

We didn’t celebrate Halloween because Jesus didn’t want us to so we were sitting inside every year with all the lights in the house turned off so kids didn’t mistake us for sinners with candy. It was either Daddy reading us the bible or Mom making us go to bed way too early.

Daddy was always awake later than all of us kids so he knew what went on after nine o’clock. One year, about a week before Halloween, Daddy told us about something that he had been dealing with for the last few years. Every year some pranksters drove down the alley that ran behind our house and all of the neighboring houses. Oh, did I mention that we used an outhouse? That’s kind of funny but it’s not even the funny part of the story yet. So these kids would drive down the alley and tip over everyone’s outhouse and drive off hootin’ and hollerin’.

The thing about outhouses is where the waste goes. There’s simply a hole dug underneath the structure for everything to fall in. So tipping the houses over didn’t make a huge mess. What it did was make Daddy have to work his ass off to tip the thing upright again the next morning.

I remember it disturbed me a little that someone was in our yard doing things to our property while we were sleeping. I don’t think it disturbed Daddy. He didn’t sound disturbed when he told us what had been happening every year. Angry to the bone is a fair way to describe how he sounded when he talked about these kids.

Turns out, the reason he was verbalizing all this was because come Halloween next week these hoodlums’ night had a surprise waiting.

Daddy was in a more-than-usual pleasant mood that week. He didn’t get made at us kids for things he normally got mad at. He kissed Mom on the cheek more than he usually did. He didn’t yell at the news on the television so much. He had bigger and better things on his mind.

Halloween night came and went. Nothing had happened. Daddy didn’t read the bible to us on Halloween night but he didn’t always do that anyway. Mom had a guilty grin on her face the next morning at breakfast but as far as us kids could tell nothing had happened. Our ignorance lasted about two days until Daddy just couldn’t help himself but to tell us what happened on that monumental Halloween night after we were fast asleep.

Daddy’s version of what happened that night is as follows…

“Well let’s see you kids went to bed about nine. Me n yer mom stayed up in the kitchen a little bit ‘fore she go too tired to keep her eyes open. She went ta bed n I went outside to git everything ready for em boys that tip over the houses. It wasn’t by chance that I trimmed all them trees and bushes that day. Well first thing to do was ta move the toilet-house. I moved it oh I’d say a good six seven feet tward the house so the waste hole was uncovered. Then I had to be careful so I didn’t get what was comin to those boys myself. I took all them branches and brush from the trimmin I did earlier and covered up that hole so no one could see that there was a hole there.

“After that I just went up to the porch with a glass of milk and waited. It was a nice night out so I didn’t mind the wait too much. I had never been awake before when those boys came tippin’ so I wasn’t too sure how long I was gonna be waitin’. About eleven o’clock I could hear a car down the alley. They didn’t try to be too quiet so I’m not sure how I hadn’t heard ‘em before. They got to our yard about five minutes later. I couldn’t see what was goin’ on from the porch bein’ around the other side of the house and all but I figured just hearin’ this was gonna be enough. And boy it was.

“The first thing I heard was a car slammin’ on its brakes. Then I heard a bunch of cussin and yellin’ and whatever else you’d expect from those hoodlums. Well I’d say the most satisfying mixture of sounds I ever heard was some branches crunching and one of those boys yellin’. There was a thump after that. It took a great deal of effort on my part to not spit that milk out from laughing so hard. I figure that boy jumped out of that hole just as fast as he fell in. I heard the tires spit the mud behind em and they didn’t stop at the next house. I left the brush and branches down in there and moved the house back over the hole.”

I saw Daddy in a different light that day. I also saw Halloween in a different light that day. We never celebrated the day but I guess it wasn’t a sin to have fun with the house lights off.


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