To read Part 1 Click here.
Henry wasted no time in dismissing his admiration for the diminutive brat's Halloween costume. He pointed a menacing finger at the kid and snarled, "Go bother someone else. Get off my property!"
Unfazed the little 'Grim Reaper' remained fixed where he stood and repeated the refrain du jour, "Trick or treat."
Angered even more by the kid's defiance Henry sneered, "Look, I said beat it. Get your ass in gear before I grab you by the scruff of your neck and throw you off my property."
The figure turned and said, "You're a mean old man. You can't spare a bit of candy? You deserve what you're going to get!"
"Hey!" he shouted, "Don't you dare go pulling any of your stupid tricks on me or my house!"
The figure raised his arm and a realistic skeletal looking hand appeared from the loose sleeves of the robe. A pallid finger pointed in his direction and the graveled voice uttered, "It looks like Mother Nature already played a trick on you."
Tate lowered his head and peered past his stomach. He grimaced at the sight of his pecker still dangling free of his boxers. He tucked himself inside of his shorts and growled, "A smart ass, eh?"
He looked up, but the damned kid was gone. He scanned the yard without seeing any sign of him. For good measure he shouted, "You better not be hiding on my property and I better not lay my eyes on you ever again. You hear me? God help me, I'll call the cops!"
Back inside he moved from room to room dousing every light in the house. It was with reluctance, but he even turned off the television. He collapsed into the recliner, determined to sit there in the dark for a couple of hours. With all of the lights out in the house, the mooching little bastards would walk on by thinking no one was home.
Ding-dong! He almost jumped out of his skin at the ingratiating chime. "You gotta be shitting me!" he cried.
Ding-dong! He lurched to his feet. "Can't you take NO for an answer?" he roared. As if he wasn't agitated enough he stubbed his toe against the TV stand on his way to the door. Hopping on one foot and spewing obscenities he landed on something small on the floor. His foot slid out from under him and he landed hard on his ass. He ran his hand across the carpet and felt several small smooth objects. He shook his head in disgust. His god damned pills! He'd slipped on the pills.
Ding-dong! He groveled on the floor until he was able to pull himself to his feet by grabbing hold of the doorknob. "Just you wait until I get my hands on you!" he screeched at the unseen caller.
He charged through the open door, his flight carrying him to the middle of the yard. He stood there, alone. Not really giving a damn one way or the other, he hoped that no one had seen his foolish dash out into the night. Head hung low, he lumbered back to the house.
Ding-dong! He was about to shut the door when the chime pealed. He spun around and yelled, "You son of a ..." His jaw dropped. There was no one there!
With renewed but frustrated vigor he reached for the doorbell mechanism on the wall above his recliner. Securing a firm grasp on it he tore it from the wall, leaving it dangling there by a single wire. He stood there for a moment, his hands on his hips admiring his handiwork. The friggin' bell would bother him no more!
Ding-dong! He thrust his hands to the side of his head and covered his ears. He refused to turn around. He knew there would be no one there.
Then there was that voice. "Trick or treat!"
He spun around to see a small costumed figure standing in the doorway. It was same little kid dressed as the Grim Reaper. He'd come back. He had the audacity to come back to his house and stand there with an open bag expecting candy. Seething with anger Henry grabbed the chime above his head and yanked it free of the wire. "I warned you, you little shit. I'll give you something you'll remember!" he said flinging the chime at him.
The chime landed with a clatter in the yard. Bewildered, Henry couldn't believe he'd missed the little prick. He inched his way to the threshold only to discover no one was there. A nervous titter escaped his lips and he muttered, "I must be seeing things. Maybe my pills and the beer together are messing with my mind."
He was about to close the door when something caught his eye on the floor by his foot. He stooped to picked it up. It was a piece of wrapped candy. "Where did this come from?" he mused.
Turning on the lamp next to his chair he stared curiously at the bit of candy in his hand. It reminded him of another Halloween night ... a Halloween of the past ... a long time ago.
He was all of twelve, an awkward kid experiencing the early throes of puberty. He was standing in front of the mirror which hung on the back of the bathroom door. Clad in his Zorro costume he was trying to strike poses just like the masked swashbuckling hero he'd seen on the television. His imaginary sword sliced a large letter "Z" on the fat belly of Sgt. Garcia.
Funny, he thought, he couldn't remember much about the trick-or-treating foray that night. He could recall neither the names of the friends he'd hooked up with nor what costumes they'd been wearing. Try as he might, he couldn't even remember reciting that magical phrase, "Trick of treat."
Although he'd been suppressing it for all those years, his return home was replaying in vivid detail in his mind's eye. He tried to force the imagery from his head. He didn't want to see, or to remember the subsequent events of that night. He had no desire to relive the tragedy of that night.
Zorro walked into the house carrying the bag of loot he'd taken from all the evil commandante's in his neighborhood. He must have collected five pounds of confectionery treasure. He'd raced upstairs to stash his foils in his secret lair only to be met by the towering figure of his old man.
Clinching his fist about the piece of candy, Henry stared unblinking up at the ceiling. He'd been hating Halloween for so long, he couldn't until that moment remember why. The son of a bitch had tried to take his candy!
Grabbing for the bag he'd shouted at him, "Son, you're not going to eat all that candy."
His father tugging in one direction and he in the guise of Zorro the other, the bag had suddenly ripped apart. He'd watched in horror as candy bars, apples and home-made cookies took flight in a seemingly slow motion shower onto the stairs and the floor below.
"Now look what you've done, you little bastard!" he'd screamed at him. His outburst had next been followed by a stinging backhand blow to the side of his face. Moving past him on the stairs he'd added, "I want this mess cleaned up right now. When you're done, leave every bit of it on the kitchen table and then get your ass off to bed!"
Had what had happened next been an innocent act of self defense, or had he extended his foot with deliberate malice? Henry doubted if he'd ever know for certain.
He'd watched in stunned fascination as his old man had tumbled down the stairs. When he'd finally come to a rest at the foot of the staircase he'd resembled a broken doll, his head twisted in an impossible position.
The tragic drama had not ended there. His mother, who'd been busy washing dishes in the kitchen had come running when she'd heard the noise. She'd knelt by the lifeless body of her husband crying and screaming. When she'd looked up to see him standing at the top of the stairs she'd screeched accusingly, "What have you done? Why?"
One moment she was wailing, but in the next she was clutching at her chest and struggling to breathe. Frozen where he stood, not comprehending what had been happening, Henry had watched as his mother had collapsed face down across the dead man's body.
Manipulating it with his thumb, he toyed with the piece of candy in his palm. He was trembling from the recall of a past that he hadn't wanted to ever remember.
Somehow, he had survived the next six years in an orphanage which had been maintained by the Catholic church. Somehow, he had managed to go to college and had graduated with a degree. Somehow, he had become a successful businessman. He sighed with despair, accepting the fact that somehow, he'd been reduced to a lonely wretched old man.
Ding-dong! Rehearsing some choice obscene verbiage, he bolted to the door. He wasn't surprised in the least to see the little Grim Reaper standing before him. "Trick or treat," the small figure said.
Henry raised his eyebrows in surprise, for the little person spoke now with a voice that sounded like that of a young child and not with the gravelly utterances of earlier. He dismissed the change in tone and quipped, "You ... again?"
"Trick or treat," the costumed figure repeated.
Mellowed somewhat by the resurrected memories of moments before, Henry reigned in his anger and calmly addressed the kid, "Let me guess, you're expecting me to give you some candy, right? Well, let me tell you how it's going to be." He held up the piece of candy for the young visitor to see and began to remove the wrapping about it.
Pinched between his thumb and index finger he waved the candy in front of the Reaper. He then raised it to his lips, opened his mouth and dropped it onto his tongue. He stooped down and smacked his lips, "Kid, that was only candy I had. You know what that means?"
He stood erect and raised his voice, "It means I ain't got no more fuckin' candy! Now get your mooching little ass the hell off my property!"
Flashing red and blue lights cast an eerie glow upon the unkempt yard. A police officer was escorting the ambulance crew into the house. He addressed them saying, "I'm no doctor, but I'm guessing it was a heart attack."
Another officer was kneeling in front of the child who'd placed the 9-1-1 call. He was impressed by the realistic costume the kid was wearing. "That sure is one scary costume. What are you supposed to be?"
"Don't you know anything? I'm the Grim Reaper," he replied in a sweet innocent whimper to the policeman.
Inside the house the EMT said to the officer, "The cause of death was not a heart attack." He stretched the elastic surgical glove onto his hand and removed a tongue depressor from his bag. Probing the mouth of the deceased he stated, "At first I thought he might have swallowed his tongue, but that wasn't it at all."
The officer's eyes widened as the EMT dislodged something from the man's throat. He picked up the object and holding it aloft announced, "I'm afraid Mr. Tate choked to death on ... a bit of candy!"
Unnoticed, the diminutive cloaked figure slipped through the gate and approached a group of curious bystanders who'd been milling about.
He raised his bag and pleaded with a strange gravelly voice, "Trick or treat!"