“You’re goin’ out?” Mary’s Pop said.
“Trick-or-treating,” Mary said. “With
Greta and Noreen.”
In the doorway, Pop shuffled his feet,
itching to get to Lenny’s.
Mary thought. Just for spite, her Mom had told Pop before he started drinking.
“You ain’t goin’!” he said. “Stay
here, Baby, where it’s safe.” Mary’s mom smirked.
Mary fought back tears. Sometimes she hated her
folks. They were as weird,
and old as the building they lived in. Out of all the kids in St. Peter’s
eighth grade, only Mary lived in a crummy apartment.
“All you need is more candy,” her
Mom said, once Pop left.
Mary’s school uniform did feel
tight. The mean kids always laughed at her. “Don’t cry,” Noreen had said,
kindly. Their classmates hated her, too.
This year, Mary hadn’t even planned a costume.
Maybe drape a sheet over
her “Lard Ass,” and be a ghost. She couldn’t be Cleopatra, since she wasn’t
allowed to wear eye makeup. Now she wouldn’t be anything.
“That’s OK,” Greta said, when
Mary called. “I figured they’d say no.”
Mary was all cried-out, by now. “Me, too.”
“We’ll share our candy with you,”
In a bowl by the door were fun-sized Milky Way
bars. In case
trick-or-treaters showed up.
Fat chance, Mary thought. Nobody
trick-or-treated in apartment houses.
‘Cept for her. Years back, their
building was the only place her folks would let her trick or treat. . . .
. . .” Drunk Mrs. Luddy
in 1C had said. “What’re you supposed to be, sweetie?”
a huge pink dress, Mary
wished she were dead.
fairy princess!” Mary’s mom
had said, for her. She jammed a plastic wand in Mary’s hand, forced her to wave
Luddy laughed hoarsely.
“Ooooh, maybe I’ll win on the horses!”
It was still early. Maybe
trick-or-treaters would show up. Mary pulled a kitchen chair near the bowl of
candy and eyed it, hungrily.
Hours, she sat there. Around her, it
got dark, so the shabby apartment looked like a haunted house.
“Get outta that yard!” her mom screamed
out the window. “You kids don’t
live there!” Mary groaned.
Her mom loved screaming at kids, period. One peek
at the three tall ghouls
told Mary they were unrecognizable. How would her mom know where they lived?
Most kids would scream “Fuck you!”
back at her. These kids were silent.
Mary got a bad feeling. She wished Pop were home.
A hideous face appeared in the window. They both
This was no mask. The way the face churned, and
sneered, made Mary think
of demons. “The Devil’s Holiday,” Sister Stephen always called Halloween. Now
Mary knew it was true.
Clawlike hands scratched at the window. At the
same time, someone rattled
the doorknob. Mary’s mom started crying.
“Where are you going?” she said, as
Mary ran to the door.
“Mary!” Pop’s voice said. “Let
Mary’s hand froze on the knob. Pop never
called her “Mary.” He’d called
her “Baby” all her life.
“Let your father in!” her mom screamed.
And never came home this early.
Mary watched the doorknob jiggle as the scratching on the window got
“Mary!” Pop’s voice said. “It’s
time to go trick-or-treating.”
hails from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ, once voted the “unfriendliest
city on the planet.” She talks like Anybodys from West Side Story
and everybody from Saturday Night Fever. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories
have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun Honey; Megazine; Dark
Dossier; The Rye Whiskey Review, Under the Bleachers, and Rock
and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow
Mama and the art director of Black Petals. She’s published
seven collections of short stories. Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian,
and an animal rights advocate.