`“Jesus Christ, Dad,” Aunt Margret said pulling blade out of his hands. “Don’t worry. It’s just a trick comb.”
“I aint your Dad,” he said. “But I’ll be her daddy.”
Charlie laughed. Susan looked a little worried now. Aunt Margret’s face went blank and hollow while Charlie still giggled in my ears, but I couldn’t stop watching her. She put the fake comb switchblade in her pocket. Uncle Jim placed his arm around his wife. “I know,” he said. “I know.” Charlie stopped laughing.
“Come on,” Charlie said. “Let’s get out of here.” He stood, taking Susan’s hand. “You want to go out now, Nathan?” he asked.
“Yeah!” I said running upstairs and grabbing my pillow case for the night’s loot. I came back and Grandpa fought to keep a flask from Aunt Margret.
“Well, Nathan,” Charlie said. “Susan? You ready for Old Pumpkin Bones?”
The struggling stopped behind us. My aunt stumbled back when Grandpa let the flask loose. He stood, with some difficulty, and said, “You say Pumpkin Bones?”
“Uh, yeah,” Charlie said.
“You’ve seen him, haven’t you?” Grandpa grinned. “I have, you wanna see where? I’ll show ya, let’s go.”
“Oh, Christ,” Uncle Jim said. “Get that man back in his seat. Dementia and Halloween do not go together.” Uncle Jim put his hand on Grandpa’s shoulder, settling him into a chair and handing him back his flask. “Here,” Uncle Jim said. “Pass out.”
Grandpa snatched the bottle and took a sip. “Go on without me, I’ll catch up.”
We walked out onto the brick path and Dad called out, “Have a good time, don’t eat any children now, you hear?”Our feet clapped over the wet pavement as we crossed the street. I looked up at the yellow, pock marked moon through the twisted and decrepit bare branches of the neighbor’s tree. The October night filled my lungs with ghostly footprints of fallen leaves, and pumpkin. What a good night, i tried to tell myself, but the image of grandpa hung with me, like millstone around the neck. I was frustrated.
“Grandpa’s really gone, isn’t he?”
“Don’t worry about that right now,” Susan said. Charlie didn’t say anything.
I felt pretty badass in that outfit, regardless. I only wish I hadn’t tripped on my way back from the first house door. “Smooth one, Drac,” Charlie said.
“Leave him alone, you shit,” Susan said. We started walking off down the street to the next house.
by James Carney