Calvin stuck his hand into the plastic jack-o’-lantern, the appendage lost up to the wrist in two giant-size bags’ worth of bite-size Snickers and Reese’s. He pulled out a peanut butter cup.
“Not many trick-or-treaters tonight, huh?” he said, the entire chocolate cup crammed into his mouth.
“Maybe this neighborhood doesn’t have the same commitment to quality candy that we do and the kids know to skip it,” replied his wife, Rosa, sitting next to him on the couch.
“I think it’s the gnome burial ground out front.”
“For the last time,” said Rosa, putting her US Weekly down on the coffee table, “that’s not a burial ground, Cal. Burial grounds are places of rest for the deceased and have spiritual meaning to large numbers of people. That mess out front is a bunch of holes you invited the NEIGHBORS’ DOGS to dig to try and hide all the collectibles of mine that you keep breaking.”
“Honey, garden gnomes are not collectibles.”
“THERE’S A MARKET!”
“There’s a market for Clorox-laced heroin, that doesn’t mean it’s –”
“THERE ARE CONVENTIONS.”
It was at that moment that the couple’s cat, Odie, slinked into view, arching her back and hissing like a crazy man on a street corner.
“Trick-or-treaters?” asked Calvin, shoveling another Reese’s into his mouth.
“Maybe,” said Rosa, getting up from the couch. “Give me the bowl.”
“It’s a plastic pumpkin, not a bowl.”
“You’re a plastic pumpkin.”
Rosa snatched the jack-o’-lantern from her husband’s hands. She stood holding it for several moments, then put it back down on the coffee table. The doorbell did not ring.
“That works, right?” she asked, pointing toward the chime mounted on the foyer wall.
“Far as I know.”
Odie leapt onto the coffee table and ran across it, staring towards the front door, screeching like a crazy man on a street corner who’d just had hot coffee thrown in his face.
“What the heck is up with her?” asked Calvin.
“Maybe some kids’re egging our house? Throwing toilet paper?”
Slowly, softly, a tiny chittering noise could be heard, creeping through the living room like a pack of drunken chipmunks walking on tip-toes.
“That’s not eggs,” said Calvin, rising from the couch. “What is that?”
“A hose? Firecracker fuses?”
“If it’s those freaking Schwegler kids –” The sound outside intensified intensely. “What are those little buttholes doing to our house?”
Calvin stormed across the living room to the foyer, squaring his five-foot-ten frame against the entranceway. He turned the knob and opened the door.
He could not believe what was staring back at him.