“My, that’s quite the costume you have there, young man! But where are your parents?”
The boy standing on our doorstep beneath the porch light was maybe 8, and for whatever reason had forgone the usual costumes chosen by boys of his age – cops or robbers, knights or wizards, ghosts or skeletons – and was simply covered in fake blood from head to toe.
He held out his treat bag. “They’re next door!” he said. “And I’m a big boy! I can go trick-or-treating by myself this year because I know to look both ways before I cross the street!”
Judy dropped some sweets into the boy’s bag and tousled his hair.
“Happy Hallowe’en, little guy!” she said. “You run along now!”
“Okay!” the boy said cheerily. He took off down the porch steps and across the street into the night.
Later, when the tide of trick-or-treaters had subsided, Judy and I sat on the couch in the living room, surrounded by the orange glow of the plastic jack-o’-lantern lights from the dollar store.
“What a sweet boy that one little guy was,” she said. “You think we should go next door tomorrow and say ‘hi’ and meet his parents? Since we are new in the neighbourhood?”
“Sure dear,” I said, and sipped my beer. “Anyone raising a kid like that must be all right.”
Judy brought some of her Hallowe’en brownies. An old man with his aged wife behind him answered the front door and held the storm one open.
“Can I help you?” he said defensively.
“Hi, yes, we’re the new neighbours from next door. Just thought we’d stop by and say hello since we saw your son trick-or-treating last night.”
A look of painful sorrow, then disbelief and fear overtook the man’s face.
“That’s impossible! Our son is dead. He was hit by a car on Hallowe’en fifteen years ago, when he crossed the street in front of your house.”