Ghouls are out early this year, in candy shops, post offices, grocery stores, coffee shops. Everywhere you look – chalky white faces with dark circled eyes, nooses around necks, rubber knives through catsup bloodied hearts. And these are just the grownups.
Chocolates and gummy bears, Dots and Caramilk bars are bartered for. Trick or Treat? What, no trick?
All this and now it’s 8:30 pm and I click off the television and hear pounding at the door. Not the type you’d expect from little kids wanting peanut butter cups. It continues because I’m in my flannel pajamas nursing a rotten cold, and want to stay where the tissue is.
Pound, pound, pound, pound, pound.
I drag myself from bed and look out the window. Whose car is that behind mine?
I shuffle to the door.
“Who is it?”
“Trick or Treat!”
Reluctantly, I open it.
Standing before me is my good friend, Bette. Her face is painted ghoulishly white, and tire tracks cross her neck and continue down the front of her ankle-length white nightgown.
Grinning, I ask: “What in the world are you supposed to be?”
She looks at me, and with absolute dead-pan says:
“I am tired and run down.”
We laugh. She hands me an apple. It’s all backwards, who gives who gets.
Despite having the energy of a gnat, I get a lovely fire going in the large stone hearth, and before you can say: wacky witches of Eastwick—I am serving tea to my oldest ghoulfriend.
Bats fly into windows. Flying pumpkins dance. The room spins inside our heads.
“How long did it take you to come up with: tired and run down?”
Bette grabs a shawl and wraps it around her shoulders.
“When I told Jack that’s how I was feeling this morning. Ding! Ding! There it was.”
“Just like that.”
“Just like that. My muse always surprises me between rinse cycles.”
“Ah, rinse cycles.”
“The Great Laundry Muse.”
“Blessings to the Muse! So …where is hubby Jack tonight?”
“Bowling in a Jack-o-Lantern costume.”
“Yep. He’s bowling in an Elvis outfit.”
“Bette, I thought you told him, no more Elvis impersonations.”
“Couldn’t do it. It’d be like tearing his heart out.”
“Off the radar.”
We laughed a lot that night—the spirit of black cats and cardboard skeletons taking us captive. The moon shone through talk glass windows. The fire crackled and glowed.
Bette, my fifty year old bud, looking like death warmed over, was the best medicine I could have asked for. There was no trick that night. Just treat. And, it was all mine.