A Halloween Story

I wrote this story as an entry for a contest for “political horror.” Suffice it to say it didn’t win. Probably not horrible enough. However, I had fun writing it. I hope you enjoy it. And yes, I did spend nearly 20 years as a Precinct Committeeman. However, I never had a precinct like this one.

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This is the part I hate. Knocking on doors.

“Good evening, sir/madam. I’m your precinct committeeman. Please vote for my Party’s candidates. Here’s some campaign literature.”

Sometimes they slam the door. Sometimes they say they support the other Party. Sometimes they take your literature, but you know they’ll trash-can it when you leave.

But occasionally someone really wants information about our candidates. Then it’s worthwhile.

You have to go in the evening, ‘cause that’s when people are home. You have to go about a week before Election Day. Too early and they forget; too late and they’ve already made up their minds.

So tonight’s Hallowe’en and I’m knocking on doors in my precinct. The moon is full, but it’s hard to tell because this street is well lit: streetlights, porch lights, driveway lights. A nice neighborhood.

The trick-or-treat kids are out. I’ve passed several clusters of them. Mostly grade school age, accompanied by adults. Some wear costumes from the latest superhero movie, but most are the traditional witches, ghosts, and monsters. One boy had a skeleton costume, the bones glowing in the dark.

Just ahead there’s another group. I let them go to the house, while I wait on the sidewalk. I chat up the adults about my Party’s candidates.

After the kids move on, I knock on the door.

“You’re kinda’ old for trick or treat, ain’tcha?”

I give my pitch. He asks about our candidate for Sheriff, and takes my literature. I move on.

Next house, no lights. No answer. I pull a plastic bag out of my pack, stuff the literature in it, and hang it on the doorknob. That’s the way it goes the rest of the street. Most people home. Most are polite. I leave a few door-hangers. Like I said, a nice neighborhood.

I reach the end of the street and look back. The kids have covered this street and moved on. I have one more street to cover.

My precinct was re-jiggered this year. Some court decision about electoral districts being “contiguous and compact.” I lost one of my streets, where there were a lot of nice homes, and got this one. We’re short-handed on the Central Committee. I don’t think we ever had a precinct committeeman for this street before. Hope I can scare up some votes.

It’s dark. Few streetlights. Even the full moon doesn’t help. Most houses are dark. Well, I’ve got lots of door-hangers. Lots of activity in the street. Evidently trick-or-treaters. Looks like ghosts, witches, monsters. Big for kids, though.

There’s a cemetery in the first block. It makes the street darker, but it means fewer houses to stop at. As I pass the cemetery I see lights flickering inside. Sure an unusual hour for people to be putting flowers on graves.

Someone comes out the cemetery entrance. His costume is ragged, and his face looks like he’s wearing all-white makeup. But obviously not a kid. I offer him some literature.

In a sepulchral voice he says, “Isn’t voting from the graveyard illegal?”

A wise guy. I reply, “If you can walk into the polls, you can vote.”

I continue, putting door-hangers on every house.

A bat flickers across the moon. I hear several others. Something that looks like a wolf slinks down the other side of the street. I pass several of the ghosts and monsters milling around in the street. All grownups, no kids. I offer them literature. They all avoid me. I begin to feel creepy.

Finally I reach the end of the street, where it meets the river. I turn to go back up the other side.

Suddenly all those figures stop milling around. They’re blocking the street. They’re moving toward me. I see one wearing a skeleton costume. Then I see a light between his ribs. That’s no costume. He is a skeleton. And the others are ghosts and monsters.

They’re closing in. I look behind me. Nothing but the river. I’m trapped.

A bat hovers in front of me. Suddenly it turns into a figure from a Dracula movie. I jab my arms forward and make a cross with my fingers.

He chuckles. “Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire.”

He grabs for me. I turn to run for the river. Suddenly that wolf is there, growling at him. The vampire shrieks,  “Keep that werewolf away from me.” He spreads his cape and flies away.

Beyond the line of creatures I see the trick-or-treat kids coming down the street, unsuccessfully knocking on doors, the adults staying in the street and holding flashlights.

“Go back!” I shout. “Go back!”

The creatures turn towards the kids. They move surprisingly fast. The werewolf and I can’t keep up. The creatures reach one cluster of kids, who stand rooted and scream. The creatures give them a wide berth and move on.

The adults call the kids back. The men put themselves between the kids and the creatures. They back up slowly.

The werewolf and I catch up. I knock the skeleton clattering and push through.

“Don’t follow the kids,” I shout. “Lead them.”

The creatures quit chasing the trick-or-treaters and turn on me. I back up slowly. The werewolf is beside me, snarling. The creatures grab at me, but he keeps them at bay. Finally we pass the cemetery. The creatures give up. I turn toward the werewolf, but he’s gone. Just a shadow slinking down the street.

One of the men says, “You sure took a risk for all of us. Why’d you want us leading the kids instead of standing with you?”

“I realized something. Those creatures weren’t after the kids. They were after you. The kids’ innocence shielded them. You needed to be behind that shield. I had the werewolf protecting me.”

They all left as fast as they could. I still had a lot of campaign literature, but there was no way I was going back down that street to hang it on doors.