Trick or Treat
It was the busiest week of the year for him, especially when the last day customers crowded the place in a frantic fashion, grabbing the first likely purchase they could find. They wouldn’t be discerning shoppers at that time. You see, George ran a candy store, a very old-fashioned place in many ways. There was even an old model dial phone beside the cash register. It was in a small building, about twice the size of your average burger truck. It had very thin walls. So much so that when there was hail, it sounded like a marching band with a lot of drummers. Some days the walls flexed with a gusting wind, and willow wands could be heard tapping out a repeating rhythm like impatient fingers. Still, despite its shabby construction, the store was filled with lots of different sorts of candies, enough to satisfy all kinds of sweet teeth. He even had several types of virtually sugarless candies for diabetics. This was very much appreciated by the older crowd type-2 diabetics who still loved what they could not usually have and hated doctor-induced guilt.
Every space in the place was utilized to carry as many bags and boxes of candy as possible. There was even one stack of six sturdy steel shelves that went right up to the ceiling. George would help some children whose eyes were directed at candies on the top shelf, which was well beyond their reach, even if they jumped as high as they could. He kept a ladder in the back that he would bring over in case someone wanted candies beyond his or her highest stretching point.
George’s candy store was located in the only dirty road in town (actually on the edge of town), with some very big potholes that were never filled in. He kept pestering the town about it, with no results. “Maybe it is heritage dirt, he sometimes mutters to sympathetic customers nervous about driving over the potholes. Beside it was an old big-mother willow tree. He called her that because she towered over the store, and because there were many of her offspring growing in a circle around her. He made sure that they were watered and spoken to like his own grandchildren.
The Day and Evening of Halloween
October 31st arrive. It was now late afternoon on the day of Halloween, at about five o’clock. It was going to be a good night for trick or treaters, as there looked to be no snow or rain to keep them off the streets. There was only an occasionally blowing warm wind.
Panicking faces were making their way into the place as they did every year at this time. There were a few more this year, as the last year, because of Covid-19, there had been no trick or treaters in the neighbourhood, and some had forgotten the children would be unleashed this year. George had some bags of poor-selling candies (they were good treats, just not particularly popular) beside the cash register, for those in an especial hurry. Although this was a good Halloween for business at George’s candy store this year generally, none of those bags of undesirable candies were sold. They lay heavy on their respective levels, perhaps to stay there for days, weeks, maybe months afterwards.
As was his custom, George planned to close down the store at seven o’clock. It had been his experience that no one came in after that time on the night of Halloween. He didn’t want to just stand there in the story. For he wanted to be at his home down the dirt road, so that he could give the kids more candies than they were likely to receive from anyone else. He was known for that and had a large number of kids come by for just that reason, even when they had to be careful walking on the often-muddy street with deep potholes frequently filled with brown water.
He was just beginning to close his shop up when a very tall, very dark, and very strange-looking man slithered into the store. He was garbed in a long black robe, shirt, and pants of the same colour. And his eye-makeup and long dark hair made him look like he was a member of the rock band Kiss, or at least wanted to be.
George, said, “I was just about to close up shop now, but you can still buy some candies if you want. Is there any kind that you would particularly like to purchase?”
There was silence in reply for a few long seconds, then came the words “I want you to give me all of the money in your till. And I want you to do it now. Do not hesitate to do this, or you will greatly regret it. It will be my trick played on you, as well as my treat whether you resist or not.”
The man twitched as he talked. Despite his deliberately affected frightening display of being strong and decidedly threatening, his face could not completely hide his contrasting set of emotions.
Of all the weapons that he could have carried, this one seemed the most appropriate. From out of the lining of his robe he drew a sickle. His intent was clear. Pay up or have small pieces sliced off of his body.
He then approached George, stopping when he stood about two arms’ lengths away from the shopkeeper, the man’s back to the tall shelving filled with unsold candies. George had walked backwards towards the cash register, not wanting to be attacked from behind. They each stood in their respective positions.
Then it happened. A sound like tapping on the wall caused the would-be thief to turn around, wondering whether there was a presence of another. George took advantage of this, took a few bold steps, and pulled down the heavy steel shelves upon the thief, rendering him helpless.
George took the sickle from the man’s hands, threatened him with it so that he cringed, and then walked over to pick up the store’s old phone by the cash register, and called the police. He didn’t have to tell there where his store was. They had all been there as children or parents on Halloween. They arrived in a short time, dodging the potholes as they drove down the dirt road.
After they left, he went outside and thanked the mother willow for the trick the willow wands played on the thief. She was an ideal neighbour, and he would be sure to take care of her children.