ALL HALLOWS EVE OF RECKONING - PART 2
I remember my Reckoning. I think I was 14 and I knew I was pushing it. But like an ex-con who just wants to pull that one last big heist before going straight forever, I resolved to go for one last night of Halloween candy-hoarding glory before facing the fact that I was too old to take part in the Trick-or-Treat tradition anymore.
My friend Arthur and I conducted strategy meetings days in advance. Our goal was simple: hit as many high quality houses as possible in order to maximize out total volume of candy. We planned our route with this in mind. Stay to the south and west of Abbott Road, to the north of Wellesley Ave., and to the east of Seaver Street. That basically formed a triangle, not unlike a piece of candy corn, filled with small streets – the highest concentration of middle-aged, well-to-do residents who were most likely to have the best candy and were least likely to delay us by inviting us in to "chat." For some reason, old people keep the bowl of candy in the kitchen instead of right by the door, so they always invite you in. Creepy, yes, but more to the point, too time-consuming. We agreed to avoid certain houses altogether due to the advanced years of the occupants. We were on good terms with most of the dogs in that neighborhood. Our costumes were non-binding and extremely lightweight for maximum speed and mobility. I think Arthur was an ink spot and I was a paramecium. Our bags, Big Brown Bags from Bloomingdales, were specially selected for size and sturdiness. They were big and had heavy-duty loop handles that wouldn't break even under tremendous strain.
We were at the height of our trick-or-treating abilities, grizzled veterans with the skill, experience and poise to attack the town, conquer it and bring home the mother of all candy lodes before retiring forever.
All went according to plan. Forest Street bisected our territory and served as our main corridor. We split up and covered individual streets, meeting back on Forest periodically to report any anomalies - houses with especially good candy or any with substandard portions. We criss-crossed back and forth at a breakneck pace, our bags growing heavier and bulkier with every passing block.
"Trick or Treat!"
"Well, hello there, young man. And what are you supposed to be? Some kind of jellyfish?"
"Trick or Treat!"
"Are you out all alone? Don't you have any little friends?"
"No, ma'am. Are those Smarties? I'll have five, please."
"Well, you shouldn't be out all alone, although you do look tall enough to take care of yourself."
"Is that a bowl of Blow Pops on the banister behind you?"
"A bean bag chair! That's what you are, right?"
"Paramecium, ma'am. These are for my little brother. He's sick and can't come out. Lyme Disease."
"A pair of what, now?"
"Gotta go, ma'am. Later!"
After just two hours, we had collected more candy than on any other Halloween of our lives. My Big Brown Bag was so full, I was sure I would have a bruise the next day where it kept banging against my right leg as I walked. At the end of Forest Street, Arthur and I congratulated each other. We weren't giddy, though. We were proud of ourselves, but also more than a bit wistful at the prospect of the end of this chapter of our lives. Fourteen is about the age when you first start to notice things coming to an end. New things take their place, but you've lived just enough to be able to look back and recognize that all that's left of some parts of your life are your memories.
We agreed to tally up the take at our respective homes and report back to each other in school the next day. We said goodnight. He took Washington Street towards his house. I turned back up Forest Street to take the path through Phillips School field and then up the hill to my house. I remember being struck by how quiet it was. Everyone else, I figured, was sticking to their own neighborhoods. There was no one around. No traffic. Only the buzzing from the amber fluorescent street lights overhead. Or maybe the buzzing was in my head. I felt dizzy from the sense of gratification pulsing through my veins.
I was just about to turn left onto the path when I heard the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of bicycle wheels behind me. I didn't look back, even when I heard "Excuse me," from a friendly sounding voice. Instinctively, I moved over to the left to let the bicycle pass me on the right. That's when I felt the bag ripped from my hand, the sturdy handle well up to the violent task and in an instant, the thief was fifteen feet up the sidewalk, a perfect silhouette on a ten-speed, skillfully balancing body, bike, and bag as it all raced away. Stunned, frozen, breathless, I watched as the silhouette shrank and shrank and eventually dissolved into the darkness ahead. I stood there motionless for what seemed like minutes. Finally, I looked down at the palm of my right hand, my fingers creased with red lines from holding the tremendous weight of the bag. The blood beneath my skin was already starting to dissipate and return to its rightful place.
"Nothing," I thought. "I've got nothing. That asshole just took everything."
I raised my hand to my forehead and covered my eyes. My face felt hot. I didn't feel like crying. I just couldn't believe what had just happened. Was it real? Was any of it real? It didn't seem real and yet when I looked for the bag of candy, it was no where to be found.
I turned left onto the path and headed through Phillips School field. I cut through to the Greeley's driveway, a super steep climb over crumbling asphalt, decaying pine cones, and crunchy, dry maple leaves. This would be a lot harder if I sill had that bag, I thought.
ALL HALLOWS EVE OF RECKONING - PART 1