Van Pelt’s Halloween Problem

Oh rats, it’s Halloween again.

I fucking hate Halloween. When I was a kid all I got was rocks in my Trick-or-Treating bag. Did any of my “friends” share their candy? Hell no. In high school and college I went from rocks in my sack to being the designated driver whose car was the designated vomitorium. Every November I’d freeze my ass off because I’d have to drive with all of the windows rolled down. These days at least I have the luxury of sitting in my dark house binge-watching Breaking Bad until Peppermint gets home from her shift at the hospital.

I don’t give out candy, fuck that.

I’ve thought about getting another dog, a Rottweiler this time, to chase off the few little bastards who stray up to my door. Apparently this is against the law.

Rats.

I hate Halloween because this Van Pelt is on me to join him in the pumpkin patch – again. Not the old one from our childhood, that land is now home to a mall with a half-way decent Chili’s. No, this new patch is somewhere way the fuck out in banjo-playing, toothless redneck country. Like an hour drive. I really don’t want to go, it’s only going to be colder, and more boring. The problem is that Van Pelt doesn’t have any friends outside of the clinic where he gets his meds and sees his counselor.

He’d lost his shit after my sister got tired of playing easy-to-get and started banging guys on the football team. After she married that investment banker he drove his car out to one of those old covered bridges one Halloween night and set it on fire. The Sheriff found him naked with orange paint all over his body with a red chem-light sticking out of his ass screaming that he’d been forsaken by the Great Pumpkin. After ten years at the state hospital he was deemed manageable enough to return home where he lives in a small apartment next to the railyard. His sister doesn’t want him anywhere near her five kids (pulling out at the last second is hilarious when trying to kick a field goal, but it is lousy birth-control). He lives on disability and makes extra money stuffing envelopes for the city and county three days a week.

So here I am driving way the fuck out into the hills to humor the guy.

I pull off the main road onto a narrow country lane where the trees on each side form a tunnel. I have to give it to Van Pelt on this one, if the Great Pumpkin doesn’t show up it’s the kind of place where the Headless Horseman will. I drive another three miles until I come to an abandoned farmhouse. Van Pelt is just standing there in the dark with a fucking creepy grin as my headlights wash over him. I stop the car, grab my coat, and get out.

I pull on my coat as I walk up to him, and tell him I’m sorry I’m late.

“Oh no, you’re right on time,” he says.

Something’s off about him but I don’t figure it out until we’re walking among the pumpkins. He doesn’t have his blanket. The guy always carries his fucking blanket everywhere. I ask him about it.

“The Great Pumpkin told me I don’t need it anymore.”

Oh he did, did he? I say, and keep walking, but start to think I’ve made a mistake coming here.

I want to ask him if he’s taken his meds but decide not to. The pumpkin patch is narrow but long. The full moon glides over the ridge-line just enough to light our way. We’re headed to a scarecrow in the middle if the field.

Van Pelt dashes off ahead of me running to the scarecrow.

He pulls out a lighter and a ring of fire erupts around the effigy.

I’m thinking I should go, but someone should be here when the Sheriff’s show up so they don’t shoot him. Van Pelt is now stripping off his clothes again, and I really should just get the fuck out of here, but when have I ever made the smart choice? Certainly not now. I get closer and I feel the heat. He’s dancing around full-on balls-out naked chanting in what sounds like Latin. I stop about twenty feet away. I’m not getting any closer, people will talk.

I look at the scarecrow and piss my pants.

It’s Marcie, or what’s left of her. She’s been disemboweled and crucified complete with her wrists and feet nailed into the wood. I try to yell but I puke instead.

Van Pelt laughs and says, “Figured it out, I had it all wrong.”

I ask him what the hell he means.

“It wasn’t enough to believe in the Great Pumpkin, I needed to show my devotion with a sacrifice.”

I ask why he killed Marcy.

“She was your sister’s best friend. You’re sister lives on the coast, so she was the next best thing.”

I tell him he’s fucking crazy, that he’s always been fucking crazy.

“Perhaps this was once true, but right now I have never felt better.”

I ask him how spending the rest of his life in a psyche ward is better, that is if the D.A. doesn’t nail him on First Degree Murder, and he ends up with a needle in his arm.

“Everything has changed tonight. The police will never know what happened here, and when the world finds out it will be too late. The Great Pumpkin has arrived to rule mankind.”

I ask him why the fuck I’m here.

“The Great Pumpkin needs to feed.”

I tell him there is no fucking Great Pumpkin.

He grins and points  over my head, “Look behind you.”

 

 

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