I stood in the rain and watched the water drops splash up from the ground through the arches of my feet. The light from the street lamp sparkled and refracted on liquid beads. I turned my face up to the weeping sky and felt nothing.
I was the only being out on the street tonight.
The wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube jack-o-lantern in my neighbor’s yard dodged and bobbed in the wind. The blowup ghost hissed and moaned. An umbrella, its bones turned inside out, tumbled down the avenue, skipping to the tune of spooky music blaring from static speakers.
The children in the only decorated house on the block pressed their runny noses against the living room window, sadness painting their faces instead of costume makeup. I waved to them. The brats ignored me.
Halloween in the time of covid. No Trick or Treating.
The weather wasn’t helping the festivities. If it weren’t for the freezing rain, the brats would be outside all night, hooting and hollering at the Blue Moon while their mother sat on the stoop sipping wine.
They usually kept me awake as their house was right across the street from my bedroom window. Being a crotchety old man, I grumbled about irresponsible parents and rowdy children with no business having fun while my ancient body ached.
I’d yell at them to get the fuck off my lawn, but they never came anywhere near me or my stuff. No one had any respect for old people nowadays. Even worse, they had no time.
My children and grandchildren lived hundreds of miles away and rarely called. I hadn’t seen them in years. Once their mother left me ten years ago, they felt no genuine compunction to contact me. I had few earthly possessions to tempt their attention, and mutual affection evaporated around the time of puberty. Mostly, I was ignored.
Just like now. I stood in the rain, staring at those damn kids staring at me, and they acted like they couldn’t even see me. I approached their fenced in yard. I wanted to pop all of their inflated decorations. Besides the orange tube guy and the trite white ghost, there was a black cat with demonic eyes, a dancing witch with neon pink hair and bright green skin, a hairy wart wiggling on her nose, and a skeleton that fell apart and reassembled to the tune of “Dem Bones.” Frankenstein’s monster had given up its Mortal coil. He lay shriveled on the ground like a spent water balloon.
I went through the front gate. It didn’t squeak. Disappointing. I glided around various homemade tombstones, quiet as a corpse rising from its crypt. I have to admit they were kind of clever:
I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK
NOAH SCAPE - ALWAYS FELT TRAPPED
PLEASE DON’T WAKE THE DEAD - THEY’RE GRUMPY
HERE SHE LIES - DEE COMPOSING
I even chuckled at a few of them, but I would never admit to that, especially after nearly stepping in dog poop. You’d think they would clean up a bit before putting out the ornamentations. It seems they had better things to do. In my day, we cleaned and straightened up for days before a holiday so we’d be worthy of a celebration. It felt like getting a trophy just because you showed up.
I survived the canine waste obstacle course and hunkered down in the bushes under the window. I rose a little, my eyes and nose breaching the sill. I got a good view of childish chins lowered to immature chests in sorrow. You’d think someone had died. The floor behind them held an assortment of drug store costumes, plastic masks, and discarded candy wrappers.
Mom lay on the couch, an arm thrown over her eyes, an empty glass on the floor under her dangling fingers. Their German Sheppard, Fang, rested in the chaos, his ears twitching, shifting like a satellite dish on the lookout for alien signals, and his eyebrows danced like Groucho Marx.
The mutt jumped up and rushed to the window. He barked and lunged, scattering the children. Mom startled, sat up, and yelled at people and the animal. I ducked down and ran for the street. The front door opened, and Fang shot into the yard, followed by the mother and her brood.
I dove into the hedges next to my house and sat on the ground to catch my breath. I expected rapid breathing and a palpitating heart. I felt weirdly calm.
From my hidden perch, I watched the unwashed masses storm the road with weapons in the shape of brooms and shovels. One of the minions brandished a three-legged doll that was missing patches of blonde hair. The dog snarled as Mom held it by the collar. Her heels dug into the lawn’s dirt while his licked up tufts of soil and brown grass.
This was more excitement than an aging person needed. I always knew by sixty I will have had enough. The noise, the mess, the constant upkeep. Why bother?
I felt justified and satisfied with my decision even though I had made it jokingly in my twenties. I had no desires left. I bequeathed curiosity to the neighborhood Tom. I watched all of the Andy Griffiths and Gunsmoke reruns. I couldn’t hang out at my local bar anymore.
Thunder and lightning chased the little monsters across the street back into their den. The slam of the door snuffed out their shrieks. Mom must have pulled the plug since all of the blowup figures deflated, the lights went out, and the tin canned spirits exorcised their right to some rest. The night returned to the unnatural pandemic quiet.
I turned back to my home, reached the front stoop, and grabbed the door handle. It passed through my fingers. I pushed on the door. It didn’t move, but I ended up in my front room. There I sat in my recliner, slumped over, head lolling to the left, my favorite beer mug on the side table, my revolver on the floor under my lifeless fingers.