Trick or Treat and Spiders, too!
My son convinced me we should go trick or treating later in the evening than made good sense to me. I just wanted to sit on the sofa watching Pitch Black and laughing at Riddick’s awesome one-liners… (Looks clear…right?)
Then I remembered he hasn’t been trick or treating very many times due to his autism. He’d been, maybe two years ago, and last year was perhaps the first year he understood what it was really about.
Shamelessly, he gave me the Puss-In-Boots sad eyes and I knew I would be getting up, right when the movie was getting good. Man, I couldn’t wait until big bad bounty hunter Johns gets his…(and I didn’t get to see it this time either.)
We whipped together a costume. Guitar Hero, guitar. Dad’s Wild West hat, mom’s vest. Blue Jeans. Suddenly he was a Country Western singing star. Scavenged a bag from some health symposium my wife dragged me to and we’re off.
Hadn’t gotten fifteen yards before it started sprinkling. Kimahri was undeterred. He was going to knock on a door, no matter what. He assessed the street, saw there were at least four lights he could see, so he was going to start there.
Success. First house was covered in stuff. Webbing, hanging heads, zombies posted on the garage walls, blood fountains, these people took Halloween seriously.
The door had a poster covering it. Looked like a vampire’s coffin. He froze. He wanted to go to the door, but I think he was frightened. I waited. I wanted to see what he would do. He inched toward the door until he reached it.
But he refused to knock. He looked like he was trying to find a part of the door the poster DIDN’T cover. Unable to do so, he finally looked back at me for a consult. I was secretly pleased. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it to the door before asking for help.
“Just knock. I think they know the coffin is on the door. I think it was meant to frighten you.”
“It did a good job,” he said laughing a bit nervously. The door opened. Normally, we did this with a bunch of other kids and they would, of course, know to shout “Trick or Treat” but he didn’t. He just stood there, frozen like a deer in the headlights.
“Trick or Treat,” I whisper from behind him.
“Trick or Treat,” he remembered. It was tonally flat. Without inflection, it seemed out of place. I would have to cue him before the next house.
The homeowner knew the routine and could see he was nervous. She chatted him up for a few seconds and then said, “Where’s your bag, honey.”
He remembered and then proffered it. She smiled and held out her bowl of candy. He gingerly plucked one from the bowl and dropped it surgically into his bag. She smiled and said “You can have more than one.”
He took another one. “Grab a handful, she pushed the bowl at him. One of the perks of being later in the night is everyone is trying to get rid of their candy.
He looked at me. “You don’t have to be so polite. She offered. You thank her and do as she asked.” I looked at the lady, “He is really polite, he didn’t want you to think he was rude.”
She just laughed. “Polite is still a good thing to have.”
We thanked her and zipped to the other houses with one more success on the block. At this point I really wanted to go home but he seemed to be getting into the spirit of it and as we came back to the center of our block which led to the main street outside our cul-de-sac, we stopped and looked down the long block ahead of us.
The rain had stopped a little and we had a moment to decide. “I think we should investigate further, daddy, don’t you?”
“Purely in the spirit of scientific investigation, of course?”
“Purely in the spirit of scientific investigation. Absolutely,” he enthusiastically mimicked my tone and pitch with the ascent on the end. We were off.
The other homes went better as he adapted and added mannerisms between homes. At the next house, he added “Trick or Treat, ma’am,” imitating a Texan drawl I showed him a few minutes earlier. “Thank ye, ma’am, have a wonderful evening.”
He was mixing and matching phrases faster now, growing more comfortable until we got to the last house on the block. This house reminded me of the first house. It had skeletons (plastic ones, I hope) on the lawn. A number of heavy tombstones made of real rocks and embedded in the lawn. The place was festooned with other Halloween bric-a-brac, like Jack Skeleton threw up in their yard.
But the pièce de résistance was on the wall by the door. A giant spider easily six feet wide. Realistic skin colors, furry legs, hooked fangs and claws.
I walked toward it in awe. So huge, so life-like. It took me a second to realize he was not with me. I turned around and he was standing where he was when we became aware of it. He hadn’t moved another step.
He was not going to that door. Nope. Not gonna happen. Can’t make me.
I turned back to the spider and began looking at it as if I was a scientist, measuring its legs and body.
“It would appear to be a specimen of “arachnidicus giganticus” a rarely seen mutant variety. It has a leg span of an amazing six feet.”
“Is it really a mutant?”
“Oh, yes. This one is only seen prowling city streets on Halloween. You probably won’t have to worry about seeing them any other time.” He took one step.
Then another. Then he realized, because he was parsing my sentence for information which allowed him to get closer. “Probably?”
“Oops. I meant most certainly NOT see them any other time of the year.”
I left a loophole and he found it. Once he said probably, he stopped again. My assurance allowed him to continue stopping about four feet away. I put my hand on it. “The abdomen has a thick layer of brown hair, similar to the hair on its legs.”
“It looks pretty short,” he volunteered. Science is one of his favorite subjects.
“Perhaps we should document this rare specimen?”
“Would we have to cut it open?”
“I said document, not vivisect.”
“Whew. Does that mean we can take a picture?”
“A picture would be fine.”
“After we get our candy, daddy.”
“Yes, it is about the priorities, after all.”
Candy secured, black cat petted, homeowner thanked. He amended the normal close with a question to the home-owner: “Can we take a picture of your giganticus to document for Halloween?”
Without missing a step, the homeowner remarked: “Just be careful, he’s a bit camera shy. He has been known to eat a camera-man who gets too close to him. He’s had three this week.”
“I’ll be careful. <long pause> How close is too close?”
The man closed the door laughing maniacally but not answering. He looked at me. I was doing my best not to smile. “I guess we’ll find out.”
Took ten minutes of cajoling and teasing before he would get within a foot of the spider, close enough to get the shot you’ll see below. He was partially terrified and partially laughing trying to avoid getting touched.
It was great fun. On the way back, we came across a group we saw earlier and took them to our house to get rid of the rest of the candy at our house. He got to give away candy to the kids and the rest of the evening was quiet.
He regaled the family with his adventures and when we got to the spider, he got nervous and I showed them the picture. He looked at me again.
“I promise. You won’t see another one until next Halloween. Probably…” Angry stares zap around the room landing on me…
The family asked what was going to be the caption for the picture.
“Hayward is crawling with giant spiders. My son ran too slow was dragged away after recording his last Country-Western hit single: “Why didn’t daddy buy sneakers that fit…”
Daddy was unavailable for comment.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.