As I’m sure all of my fellow HWA members can claim, Halloween is my favorite holiday. Horror movies on every channel, pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven, slutty cats and nurses trolling the street galore, and those are my least favorite things about the holiday. (Hello? Candy! Children!) But once I went to college, then moved back home into our rural suburb, I never got a single trick or treater. It was so depressing. I missed seeing the smile on mini-Spiderman or a fairy princess’ face. And it’s just pathetic if you’re an adult dressed in costume alone eating candy. You can get away with it if children come by for some reason without being considered a weirdo (go figure.) So when I moved to Santa Ana, CA into my own house with dozens of children in the neighborhood, I couldn’t wait to work my Halloween mojo. Dead bodies on the lawn! Fake cobwebs on every surface! Ceramic gargoyles lining the sidewalk!
I’d known Cindy since high school. She was my best friend all four years, and we’d kept in touch after I moved to the east coast. When I decided to change coasts, she jumped at the chance to be my roommate. I’ll spare you, dear reader, a re-cap of the first six months of this cohabitation because I’m still doing by best to repress the memories, so I’ll just jump to the Halloween season. It was a warm, sunny October 20th when I awoke to find the circus had come to town. Cindy’s parent’s house had been foreclosed on, and they decided to set up their shanty town ON MY LAWN! On the grass. Electrical cords attached to my house. Neighbors pointing and later calling the police while I was at work. Let the horror begin.
To say Cindy’s parents were crazy would be an insult to crazy people. No, they were the worst kind of crazy. Zealots. Religious zealots believing everything in the Bible was true and must be followed to a “T.” Which is fine to believe, to each his own and all, just not when you negatively inflict your beliefs on others. Like telling them they’re going to hell for listening their half hour long diatribes. Or trying to exorcise a demon from their daughter when she’s clinically depressed but won’t pay for her Prozac. That, to me, is not cool. But they were Cindy’s parents, whom she had a very complicated relationship with, so I tried to respect them.
Not surprising Cindy never got to celebrate Halloween and was itching to prior to this invasion. She’d gone with me to Target to buy decorations and candy. We had our costumes organized. She even helped me with the cobwebs and set-up the gargoyles my mother mailed me that she found at the Dollar Store. When her parents showed up they were all out, including a Welcome mat with a cartoon skull on it. Two days after the parents came, the gargoyles vanished. I thought they’d been stolen, that is until I found them in a box in the back of our pantry. When I asked Cindy if she knew why, she informed me her mother had hidden them. It seems Mommie Dearest never took The History of Witchcraft at UVA like moi because she was under the impression that gargoyles are evil (as opposed to what they really do, ward off evil) and that these Dollar Store ones were made of cemetery dirt. I just stared at Cindy with my jaw to my feet. Told her if her parents had a problem with them, they should speak to me then I put them right back out.
They didn’t. I did however come home the next day to find my cobwebs, mat, and gargoyles were all missing. Put them out again, more of the same. And again. I was getting pissed. Cindy spoke to her parents, I think, but nothing changed except I began finding written Bible passages around the house. When I spoke to Cindy again, she asked me not to confront her parents. To just let it go. I couldn’t. I had enough. I marched out and knocked on that RV door. They were in there, the lights were on, but they wouldn’t open the door. They’d been going out of their way to avoid me. I rolled my eyes and went back inside. They made it a point not to be around when I was home after that.
This passive aggressive crap continued right until Halloween. I was determined not to let them ruin mine and Cindy’s holiday. As if the Halloween war wasn’t going on, I went out and bought a pumpkin for the both of us to carve as she’d never gotten to before. The candy was out, I changed from my suit to Josie and the Pussycat costume, and put on my Halloween mix just like we’d planned.
Cindy wouldn’t leave her room.
She wouldn’t even touch the pumpkin. I begged her to put on her wig and dress, at least move to the living room to watch horror movies with me. She kept her door locked. And I couldn’t really blame her. Her parents literally moved chairs right on the sidewalk facing the house, not leaving the entire night while holding crosses and glaring at me as I handed out candy to dozens of happy children who didn’t have a clue they were being silently judged for dressing like Buzz Lightyear. I kept an eagle eye on those people, glaring and smiling cruelly with each time I opened my door to support the evil holiday. Also swore to myself if they set foot one on my lawn I was going to march out there and threaten to have them arrested for trespassing. They didn’t.
With Cindy scared and miserable in her room and the crazies giving me the eagle eye on the street one would think it was a horrible night. Harlow family motto: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” I bounced around my house grooving to “Dead Man’s Party,” munched on candy, and cooed over the adorable children in their costumes. Because that is what Halloween is all about. Celebrating the macabre and bringing joy to small children with candy. How is that in any way evil?
By next Halloween I’d had enough and was back on the east coast in my own apartment, gargoyles and dead bodies strewn all over my patio and apartment. But out of all my Halloween’s I still rank that one in my top three because not only did I stand up for myself, I stood up for all things strange and horrific by not giving in.
What about you? Have you ever had to fight for your right to Halloween? Share your story below.
JENNIFER HARLOW spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.
F.R.E.A.K.S. Do Dallas
Beatrice Alexander, telekinetic special agent, is still adjusting to life among the F.R.E.A.K.S. while wiping out zombies and other supernatural threats. When Bea learns about her “special assignment” investigating a series of human disappearances with Oliver Montrose, her gorgeous but annoying vampire co-worker, she reluctantly agrees to go undercover. Disguised as a married couple, they infiltrate the gothic vamp scene in Dallas. While sniffing out clues, Oliver’s convincing public—and not so public—displays of affection have Bea swooning in her bustier and fishnets. Between contending with her fake husband’s ex-lover Marianna and feeling guilty for hiding the mission from her werewolf crush Will, Bea discovers she’s not the only F.R.E.A.K. keeping secrets. Clubbing with the undead turns bloody when Oliver’s old enemy, the Lord of Dallas, decides to seek his revenge. Caught in the crossfire, Bea is up to her neck in blood-sucking trouble.
Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc)
http://blog.jenniferharlowbooks.com Tales From the Darkside Blog