Rudy is back. Months after rotting
away on your stoop, he walks again.
Searching for you.
On Valentine’s Day, delivery guys passed him with roses that
so bad, Rudy gagged. But today is Halloween.
Perfect, his wormy brain thinks. I’ll
find her! Einstein loves Halloween.
“Einstein,” he called you, ‘cos you
were smart. Knew lots of big words. Made tough shit seem easy.
“‘Einstein,’” he said, looking up from
the Want Ads. “What’s ‘col-la . . . col-labor-’”
“’Collaborate?’” you said. “Means to
work with others, you know, like equals.”
Smiling, he took off his shades. “Man.
Why couldn’t they say it like you?”
All your life, you loved Halloween: trick-or-treating,
candy. As a kid, you wore “fat” costumes. Once, in the long, fairy princess gown,
some mean kid tripped you. Screaming, your mom dragged you home, your knees
bleeding all the way.
And you love creepy movies: INSIDIOUS,
THE RING, SAW. Whoever thought…
Rudy could out-creep even them.
How he materialized from zombie ooze is
a mystery. But Halloween’s the time for zombie ooze, and unsolvable mysteries. He
walks residential streets, without feeling fallen leaves beneath him. Without
feeling his toes break off.
Einstein, he thinks.
Rudy, you think, as he walks again. I miss you so much!
His fancy, beat-up clothes. Those Blues Brothers shades. Last
Halloween, you had a party. Everyone but Rudy wore a costume. “Who’re you?” one
friend asked him. “Jake, or Elwood?”
Around him, some trick-or-treaters wear zombie costumes so
gruesome, he might’ve screamed, in life. Walking with these teenagers, he feels
almost at home. But, at the same time, outnumbered.
Maggots protruding from one teen’s face make Rudy draw closer.
only grains of rice.
His bloodshot eyes meet Rudy’s. Nauseated, his cheeks puff up,
he runs and pukes in the street.
“Asshole!” His friends laugh. “Next time, drink after,
“Hey!” a guy about seventy yells from his porch, “Ain’t
you too old
to be trick-or-treatin’?”
The teens hoot, but the guy’s eyeing Rudy. Whose ear falls off.
“Sweet!” one kid says.
“Oh, my God!” the guy’s wife screams, from behind
“I’m not . . .” Rudy’s words feel clogged with
dirt. “Trick or treat.
Einstein!, he thinks. Where are you?
“Have you seen . . .” he says, the words a putrid mess
that shoots onto
The couple keels over. Teens break up, around Rudy. Smaller kids
run away, screeching.
But his heart, or what’s left of it, is not putrid. It’s
pure and still
yours, if you want it.
Rudy, you think, why did you disappear? Applying Halloween makeup that
you cry right off. Where did you go?
On his way to your block, his other ear, and nose fall off. But he
could never smell good, anyway. Or see. Shades kept the blinding sun from
searing his eyes. Now the sockets are empty . . . almost. Worms crawl out and feed
on his rotting cheeks.
Before, he’d felt outnumbered, in that gang of costumed teens.
he’s alone. In the abandoned streets are plastic pumpkins, their contents
As his face is eaten, his shades topple to the ground, crunch
beneath his toeless feet.
In your building, the landlord banned trick-or-treating ‘cos
Still, you’re out on the stoop, with a bag of candy. The same
Rudy turned to maggot soup on, back on V-Day.
After several tries, your eye makeup was perfect: thick, feline-looking;
your penciled whiskers comical. On your headband are small cat ears.
No kids come, but you stay outside.
In the distance, someone shuffles along. Bigger than a kid, maybe a
teen. Even from that far, the costume repulses you. . . .
A faceless head, with maggots swarming over the body.
It’s getting closer.
You get up, but your feet are frozen. Something keeps you from
Something you’ve been missing so bad.
What’s left of its tattered clothes looks familiar.
Rudy, you think. But it can’t be!
As the thing collapses, you hurry inside.
From the ground, what’s left of Rudy tries calling, once more:
Before he succumbs to the worms. Once again . . .
Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks
like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so
needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants. She’s been
published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A
Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E,
Dark Dossier, and Twisted Sister.
She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a
Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate.