The minute his eyes fluttered open, Dan knew it was going to be a rotten day. Running through every type of excuse he could potentially use to stay in bed for the day and out of the workplace, Dan almost smiled when he realized he actually felt legitimately ill. Shuffling into the adjoining bathroom, Dan peered at his disheveled appearance in the vanity. He looked like crap. Well, at least something is going my way, he thought as he examined his sunken eyes and pale skin. Making a quick call to his supervisor informing him he wouldn’t be coming in that day, Dan downed half a bottle of cherry cough syrup, whipped up a bowl of instant oatmeal and headed back to bed. With any luck, he would sleep straight through to tomorrow, when life would return to some normalcy- November 1st could not come quick enough. Gingerly crawling back into bed, he promptly fell asleep before he was able to eat even one spoonful of his oatmeal.
Waking up with a start, Dan looked around in confusion. Something had disturbed his slumber, sitting up slowly- God his head was pounding, Dan listened for anything that might have been the cause of his abrupt departure from la-la land. And then he heard it. Looking around in a panic, Dan leaned over to read the display on his bedside alarm clock; it was 7pm. “Crap,” Dan hissed as he tried to ‘unhear’ the unmistakable mirth of at least half a dozen children, “trick-or-treaters”.
The doorbell sounded through the house like artillery fire. “Double crap,” Dan mumbled remembering too late that his porch light was on a timer and was practically a homing beacon for the neighborhood brats looking for candy. The doorbell rang again, with more urgency, if that was possible. Knowing all too well what happened to people who ignored trick-or-treaters (a strategically placed exploding soda can will do that) Dan threw on his old bathrobe and grabbed a few of the pocket dictionaries he wasn’t able to hock on his last sales trip and went to answer the front door.
““Trick or treat!” the sugary voices of a princess, ninja and Spiderman threatened in unison before thrusting their plastic pumpkins towards Dan. Depositing a dictionary in each of their pumpkins, Dan grumbled to the obviously disgruntled children, “Candy rots your teeth- but these! These will help your brains get nice and big”. Sulking, the kids said the obligatory “thank you” and began their onward march to the next home of suckers. Bringing up the rear were the kids’ parents, a group of four who waved at Dan and one of the fathers even called out, “Great costume, by the way! Super believable zombie, dude. Love it!”.
Wondering what the idiot might be on about, Dan wasn’t able to give the comment much thought for the next round of extortionists were already banging down his door, this time in the guise of a Mr. Potatohead, a pirate, a headless horseman and a what appeared to be a wad of tinfoil. “Trick or treat, Mr. Zombie!” the little pirate screeched, his stuffed parrot pitching forward on his shoulder and landing beak-first in the little boy’s armpit. Tossing a few pocket dictionaries at them, Dan wondered again where the zombie thing was coming from but decided he was too sick and too annoyed to care.
The next two hours proceeded in much the same fashion- a seemingly endless parade of costumed children and their semi-costumed parents hit him up for every last pocket dictionary Dan had. From almost every group Dan heard the zombie reference, and eventually just shrugged it off as some new Halloween slang he was obviously not familiar with, maybe ‘great zombie’ meant ‘thanks for the awesome dictionaries’ or something similar.
Around 8:45pm, Dan finally shut his front door for the final time. Taking the porch light off of the timer, Dan walked to the bathroom to blow his nose. Flicking on the lights, he almost let out a scream before realizing the horrific figure he was staring at was his reflection. Terror quickly mellowed to amusement as Dan leaned closer to the mirror and tentatively touched his face. Dripping down his chin and encompassing his entire mouth like a gory goatee was congealed cherry couch syrup. Additionally, there were ‘pockmarks’ and what appeared to be festering wounds all over his face, head and torso, thanks to his falling asleep before thinking to set the bowl of peaches and cream oatmeal safely out of the bed. Picking a glob of the stuff from his cheekbone, Dan almost laughed as he thought about all the reactions he received from trick-or-treaters. With the impromptu ‘make up’ his shabby slippers, holey pajama pants and bathrobe haphazardly thrown on, Dan made an impressively realistic zombie. “Well, I feel like the walking dead, so I guess if the shoe fits…” he chuckled to himself as he turned on the water for a hot shower.
Several days later, upon arriving home, Dan noticed a small object sitting on the doormat in front of his front door. Walking up from the driveway, Dan picked up what he saw to be a trophy and read the inscription, “Dan Upton, Tall Oaks Neighborhood Best Adult Costume- 2011”. Looking up from the inscription, Dan noticed the figure atop the marble base was a small, brass zombie.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: So of course, number one inspiration come from the fact that today is Halloween. Boo! I scare you!
TWO: Today, on the way to a meeting I figured I would grab a can of Coke Zero for a caffeine pick-me-up. Depositing my $0.75 I pressed the button and- nothing happened. So I pressed the button again, and was relieved to hear the machine deposit a can, that is until I bent over to retrieve my purchase and got a face-full of Coke zero. The can was punctured and was hissing and spraying everywhere like a pissed-off rattlesnake. Grabbing the can and placing my thumb over the hole, I held out the soda and looked around trying to figure out what to do with the darned thing. I really wanted to try and salvage it, I was pretty thirsty and that was a whole $0.75 down the tube. Common sense eventually won out and I eventually dropped the offending soda into the trash, listening sadly as it sprayed all of its carbonated goodness on Oreo wrappers and discarded wads of gum.
THREE: OK, so usually I try to be a good sport about the whole “Trick or Treat” thing. If my Halloween entails hanging with kids, or even another adult, I’m all about it. Bring on the little buggers. But can I be honest with you for a sec? I kinda hate it otherwise. If I’m home alone, the entire idea of having to answer the door to a bunch of strangers so that I can give them candy really doesn’t sit well with me. First, I love candy, why would I give it away? Second, I’m a total misanthrope; I don’t like being disturbed when I’m at home. Third, the constant knocking and doorbell ringing? It drives my dachshund bonkers- he loses it when I come home, let alone a parade of bizarrely dressed strangers, the fact that they are children only intensifies the barking. So tonight, despite the fact that I bought a bag of candy and set it in a bowl by the front door, I kept the porch light off and hid in my house like a jerk. Yeah, I’m kind of an old fart. Sorry.
Love & Squirrels.