When I got home that night, I noticed the smiling jack-o-lantern in my front yard was crushed. Dead tired from working the graveyard shift at Bally’s, I was in no mood for mischief makers.
Yet, none of our other Halloween decorations had been touched. Not the spider-laden cobwebs strung over the boxwoods; the pale rainbow of gourds lining the stairs aside the dried cornstalks; nor my favorite, Mr. Boney who stood guard the door. The gravestones on the makeshift porch cemetery still stood tall. Just the once smiling pumpkin had been punished.
I had forked over $49.00 at Halloween Central for Mr. Boney. He was not just a skeleton, but a sentry whose secret sensor embedded in his plastic corpus he would suddenly emit a hideous hackle, when an unsuspecting visitor approached, causing more than a few near cardiac events. The truth was I sprung for Boney not because of his high-tech accessories, but because he reminded me of someone from the past. Someone scary and funny and unforgettable. Someone I’d never see again.
I leaned down to clean up the pumpkin mess. My first thought was that some teen yahoo couldn’t wait to start his Halloween rampage. But why just the pumpkin? Then I noticed a flattened cigarette butt. Upon closer inspection — -no filter, hand rolled — — I determined it was a blunt — -that’s what they call joints today. It was all the information I needed. It had to be Dennis Campo, my ex, sending me a message in his unique and strange style. How could I forget two Halloween’s past, when dressed as cowboy and Indian, we won 2nd Prize at the VFW Ghoul Ball? As we walked home, elated with our prize bottle of Shushi Champagne, Dennis produced a joint from his war bonnet and lit up.
We passed the pot peace pipe until the room was a solid mass of skunk smoke. We made love with our bodies, but our minds floated into an astral plane. When it was all over, I realized I loved Dennis, but his lifestyle and mine were at odds. I was a single mom, a Republican, a two-step line dancer. I told Dennis that it was over and watched his pale slim face crush into a grimace of pain. He flew out of the house, but not before kicking that season’s jack-o-lantern from the doorstep to the pavement. He dashed out onto the lawn as a cold autumn rain soaked my spider webs. Blindly, his feet slid over the curb and he tripped. Without warning, a speeding Honda Civic had crushed his head just like the pumpkin. Dennis, I know it’s you and I still love you.