The Halloween Project 2022 - Story 2: Halloween Calls
“Dude, you can’t do this kind of shit. It’s too crazy. It’s way over the top.”
“Relax, Randy, you know it’s all part of the fun. It’s Halloween! This is what my guests expect!”
“Guests? Jesus and the Trinity, do you hear her? Come on, Bobby!” Randy made a weak gesture toward the plywood coffin at their feet. A girl or young woman’s voice was screaming, high-pitched, anguished, peeling until vocal chords seemed to clench and break.
“How long has it been?” Randy asked quickly.
“Seven, maybe eight minutes,” Bobby replied, not glancing at his watch.
“More like ten! That’s an eternity. Let her out, man.” Randy begged.
“Give her two minutes more. Hey, she wanted a scare. She even said, ‘A real scare’. So now she’s got one. One that she’ll remember. Forever!”
“Out! Now!” Randy said, and moved toward the coffin with a hammer. In short order the top was pried open, more screams, then clenched hands clawing the wooden sides.
A voice emerged from the screams, “You sonofabitch! You sick mother! You are a lunatic!” She sat up quickly rasping gulps of air through the curses.
“Did you get a scare? A really good one?” Bobby Lester asked. And the mood changed.
The girl, maybe 18, maybe 20, started to laugh. Then she cried a little, her face streaked with a combination of makeup, dust, grime and tears. And she laughed again.
“Yes! You demented bastard! That was the best scare of my life. Or the worst! Get me the hell out of here!” And as they helped her up she laughed and grunted all at once. Her sweat sodden hair strung in black laces. Tank top askew. Just maybe she had wet her jeans as well. Perhaps a pretty girl on a better day, a walking train wreck now.
”Holy Jesus shit! Holy, holy, holy!” she stumbled off to a waiting circle of screaming friends. They embraced, laughed, and screamed some more.
Bobby Fielder loved Halloween. He lived Halloween. He was Halloween. Christmas was fine, but he preferred Thanksgiving. Valentine’s Day, ridiculous. Easter, don’t even mention it. Columbus Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, all nice holidays, but basically zeroes, a day off from work. Birthdays were fun in general. But Halloween…
At Bobby’s house it wasn’t decorated all year for the hallowed holiday. He wasn’t demented. Only late August through Thanksgiving. Some decorations simply stayed up. His video repository of films from Bela Lugosi to Korean ghost tales numbered in the hundreds. And he watched them. Often. A rainy day was a perfect day for horror, so were snowy days, also days too hot and muggy to venture outside. Holidays were perfect, as were birthdays, both his own and friends. And the film “Halloween” with all its many versions.
“The single greatest horror film ever made,” he preached, “Maybe the greatest film ever made considering what it set out to do. It can’t be topped! Michael Myers, just think of that. No one in America whose last name is Myers can ever name their kid Michael. They just can’t,” he exclaimed, “Made on a shoestring and it earned millions. And still does!” He watched “Halloween” over and over again, not dozens, but hundreds of times.
His mother and sister stopped by the day before Halloween. Bobby’s haunted house was in full swing in the backyard for the two previous weeks and kids lined up by the dozens. Bobby had rules. No kids under 12. 12 to 16 one path, scary and funny. 16 to 18 years old, scary, but not so funny. 18 and up, they could choose: the scary, not funny route, or “Fielder’s Field”. A tunnel with hard-to-mention sights, things touching you, things screaming at you. Smells and sounds that would screw up your dreams for weeks. Finally, buried alive in a makeshift coffin, or so it seemed; sounds, lights, gruesome effects. Not for the young, the old, not for the nervous, not for the squeamish, not for anyone or everyone, but Bobby loved it and so did just a handful of people. No charge; no harm, no foul. But no one emerged from Fielder’s Field unscathed.
His mother often yelled. “Bobby, stop this ridiculous mess. It’s not good for you. It’s getting worse every year. You’re 27! You should be out doing…something! Anything! But not this!” she finished, her voice rising, finger-pointing.
“Mom, could you let me be. I’ve got a good job with the insurance company and I can do it all remotely. I love my job and my house. I don’t have a criminal record. I’d never hurt a flea. You know that! I know, I know, I’m a little crazy about Halloween. But it’s all good! Some people collect stamps, some people travel, others play pickleball. I like Halloween!”
“I wish you’d play pickleball!” his mother tossed back.
His sister, Rosie, three years younger and siding with Bobby asked, “Bobby, you are a little crazy. Kind of like you’re 15 or something, but could I come over tomorrow for Halloween?”
“Of course,” Bobby said, “That would be great! I’ve got the haunted graveyard set up in the backyard with some new twists this year. My projector is all set up to show Nosferatu and some other flicks on the side of the house. And of course there’s Fielder’s Field. Little kids will stay out front. Randy is coming over with his girlfriend and now you’ll be here. It’ll be a party…but just one thing…”
“Uh oh, here it comes. I knew there would be something. What? Come on. What?!” Rosie asked.
“You have to dress up. You have to wear a costume. On Halloween, you can’t be Rosie. You can be anything you want, but not Rosie. Surprise me.”
“That I can do,” she laughed and made her way back to the car, already thinking about her costume.
“Your brother…,” Rosie’s mom began, ”No good will come of this. He’s a grown man. He can’t be parading around like this. It’s childish. It’s stupid.”
“Mom, give him a break, it’s Halloween for Chrissakes,” Rosie countered.
“No, you’re wrong, Rosie. It’s craziness.”
“Mom, people collect baseball cards. People throw horseshoes. People spend tons of money on a whole lot of shit that doesn’t really make any sense in the big picture. You collect those little glass figurines. What do you think we’re gonna do with them someday when you’re gone?” Rosie asked.
“Well, I hope you’d keep them in memory of me,” her mother answered.
“Mom, really? Is that what you think? To be honest…we’re gonna sell them. Probably in a tag sale.”
Halloween presented itself with a promising, burly sky and just the perfect temperature; cool, but not cold. Kids could venture out after school that evening with costumes in full flourish and no coats. The townsfolk decorated their yards with lights and pumpkins, scary music started to blare from windows around four o’clock.
Bobby couldn’t have asked for a better house for his inspiration. A deep yard that carried back to a forested tree line at least fifty yards from his house contained multitudes of scares. Goblins and creatures hung from trees in the yard. Backlit skeleton heads gleamed from each window. Sounds of screeching and chains rattling emanated from speakers on the porch. Animated figures, some 15 feet tall, lurched, jerked, and vibrated. A dozen yards from the side of the house he mounted a video projector. There, he streamed continuously: Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein or snippets that he edited from Tales from the Crypt When the night grew later he showed Eraserhead. Neighbors shied away.
Randy arrived with his girlfriend Rebecca. He arrived dressed as the perfect Basil Rathbone Dr. Frankenstein, complete with Alpine hat and lederhosen. Rebecca as the Bride. Her hair was perfect. Rosie appeared shortly, outfitted as Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice.
“Lydia Deetz!! Awesome, little sister! Truly awesome! ‘My whole life is a dark room. One big dark room.’” Bobby quoted from Beetlejuice.
“Big brother! Maybe I’m more like you than I thought. I love that movie!” Rosie smiled and shot back.
Bobby was simply dressed in black. Black pants, black turtleneck, black leather jacket. Black hair slicked straight back.
“Who the hell are you supposed to be? Randy questioned.
“Come on,” Bobby offered, “let’s hand out some candy.” And for the next three hours that’s exactly what they did. Not little nougats or a five-pound bag of miniscule chocolates. Bobby gave real candy bars, old-fashioned candy bars, candy bars that a kid really wanted to eat. Baby Ruth, 3 Musketeers, Oh Henry. Rebecca scared all the little kids and half the older ones.
Later, after the little kids were long gone, only teens lingering on the street, hoping to smash a pumpkin or two, he moved the projector to the back of the house. 20 feet wide and 12 feet tall he cracked a six-pack of Corona and settled in for his personal viewing of “Halloween.” Rosie, Randy and Rebecca joined him, Rosie took out her weed.
Michael Myers stabbed his sister and ruled Bobby’s world.
After a half hour, Bobby said, “Give me a minute, but don’t stop it. I’ve seen this part.”
They all laughed.
45 minutes and a good high in, Rebecca suggested, “Where’s Bobby?” All three tossed their heads side to side and Randy said, “Bathroom probably.”
15 minutes more, Randy said, “I’ll go check on him.”
“I’ll help,” Rebecca offered.
Five minutes passed. Then 10. Rebecca returned, “I can’t find him anywhere.
“Holy shit!” Rosie exclaimed. Then yelled quickly, a cross between a plea and a scream, “Randy!! Randy!!! Come here!! Quick!”
Randy jumped from the front door at a run. Rebecca turned and looked at the house.
“What?!” Randy gestured with both hands.
“LOOK!!!!!” Rosie pointed to the images projected on the house.
On the 20 by 12 foot screen that played against the door, windows and framework of the house, Michael Myers stalked a screaming, hysterical young man. In Michael’s hand a glistening, dripping blade shimmered. The young man ran, casting backward glances and screamed, continually. Once he looked to the camera, beyond the enfolding scene. He looked right at Rosie. He was wearing black. All black.
Michael’s steady cadence carried him closer, then closer still. The man in black slipped, scrambled to his feet, tried to run and slipped again. And screamed. The blade dripped black.
“IT’S BOBBY!!!” his sister screamed.