Back in the 60s,
there was no pc shit. On Halloween, you wore what you liked: warrior feathers,
fuzzy wigs, slant-y eye makeup. Nobody said shit.
Same with treats.
Sure, every apple risked a razor-split lip, or tongue. But who ate apples, when
you got Hersheys, Butterfingers, and my favorite: chocolate doughnuts!
Moist, white cake,
covered with delicious, fudgy icing. Mmmmm . . . Cool, it was, ‘cos it got cold
out by Halloween. S’almost like eating a frozen candy bar—and cake—at the same
These days, you’d
get sued for giving doughnuts to trick or treaters. Scared you’d shoot ‘em up
with cyanide. But back then, who cared?
Santangelos—those bakery owners, gave out
chocolate doughnuts every year. Sometimes, the line of kids reached around the
block. All day at school, we talked about those doughnuts.
In ’67, rumor was,
the bakery was closing. Not . . . yet, but by New Year’s, or maybe Christmas.
The Santangelos had to sell their big house. Or maybe, somehow they’d already
lost it. “Lost more than that house,” my mom said, about the husband.
On Halloween of ’67,
the Santangelos gave out chocolate doughnuts.
the last time . . .
* * *
All these years
later, I still shudder, thinking about it. How close I got . . .
That night, Theresa
Santangelo—the prettiest, meanest kid in sixth grade—stood outside, giving out
the doughnuts. Like her shit didn’t stink. Broke, or not, she had on the fanciest
costume her dad could buy his only child. Cinderella, or Snow White. I swear I
Behind her, the
house they were losing was made up like the Munsters’, or the Addams Family’s.
Cobwebby, and even creepier, with ghoulish masks all over.
gave doughnuts to us poor, jealous slobs. Like fat Carmella Tucci, whose
sluglike Pop left a trail of booze wherever he went. And Bridget “Boo Hoo”
Dougherty, who cried a lot and whose mom took pills. And . . . me. With
divorced folks and who had the dirtiest mouth at St. Jude’s.
With each treat,
came a whispered remark: “Just one, Fatty Pants,” she told Carmella, who cried
all the way up the block.
fucking costume, Samantha?” Theresa asked me.
With my painted
green face and witch’s hat, I looked pretty scary. Not like that other,
blonde Samantha on the
show Bewitched. Till that doughnut was in my hand, I struggled for a
real nasty answer.
“You fucking leave
What came out scared
even me: “Shit, before you take off yours . . . you’ll be dead.”
She turned as white
as that ghost mask behind her. “Daddy!” she screamed, but by then, I had leapt
down the steps.
Heart pounding, I
caught up with Carmella and Boo Hoo up the street.
said. That was a switch. Usually she was the one crying.
“Fa- fa- Fatty
Pants, she called me!” Carmella was dressed like a fat baby doll, but still . .
. Theresa shouldn’t have said that.
And I . . .
You’ll be dead, I’d
said, like a real witch might’ve.
Even scarier, I just
knew it would happen. Not how, just that it would.
“Sam?” When Boo
touched my arm, I jumped. “We’re gonna head home.”
They still had their
doughnuts. I didn’t hear what Theresa had said to Boo Hoo.
But . . . You’ll be
dead, I’d told Theresa.
“Sure,” I mumbled,
but they’d already left.
I had to go back.
Later. To see if she was OK.
Sure, I thought,
nibbling my doughnut, she deserved to die, but not yet. We weren’t even
Confirmed, yet. She might even turn out nice, someday.
It got later. Only
older kids were still out. The little ones trick-or-treating with their folks
had gone home.
I was thinking so
hard, I didn’t realize I’d gone around in a circle.
There was the
Santangelos’ house, again, with only a few kids outside, and Theresa still
handing out doughnuts. But, from inside, there was yelling.
Her folks. Even from
the street, I saw Theresa was crying. Like she’d never heard them fight before.
I crept closer.
A loud, smacking
sound meant someone got hit. Then muffled, female sobs.
Theresa dropped the
doughnuts. Almost tripping over her costume, she ran inside.
I started to go
home. But, like a gnarled witch’s hand, something dragged me back.
I walked the same
streets, avoiding the one that was calling me, till it got really late. So
late, my mom must’ve called the cops. No kids were around, anymore. And it was
cold. I shivered in that thin witch’s cape.
From outside, the
Santangelo house seemed so quiet, like they’d all gone to bed. Like all slept
I crept up the
steps, relieved that the screaming and sobs had stopped.
Till I peeked in the
window . . .
by Cindy Rosmus. Collected in Backwards:
Growing Up Catholic, and Weird, in the 60s by Cindy Rosmus. Copyright ©
2021 by HEKATE Publishing. With cover and illustrations by Coates “Keith”
Walker. Originally appeared in Flashes in the Dark, January 2, 2016.
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.