Sunday, October 24, 2010


This is a Hallowe'en story, based on a more or less true story from the days when kids could walk around the neighborhood, the folks didn't panic if they didn't know where you were, and Tricks were almost more important than Treats on the spookiest night of the year!

I wrote "THE TRUCE" in a fiction class five years ago. If anybody thinks they see themselves, literally or otherwise, in this story they should just enjoy a taste of the good old days. I will publish it here in installments, to enjoy as the big day draws near.



By Robin L. DesJardins

"I'll be so glad when we can drive to school!", Janey complained, "Those Murphy boys make me so Mad!"

"I know," Wendy agreed, "This is like being in the monkey house at Capron Park...YUCKO!"

The two seventh graders got off the bus, before their stop, at the beginning of the street where they lived. Their homes were almost a mile farther. Wendy lived two houses before Janey's. She had just moved back there from Maine, the summer before and Janey was glad for a friend her age to be on their street again. The weather was turning unfriendly but neither of them could stand the zoo scene on the bus any longer. They pulled their London Fog trench coats closer around themselves as the air turned a cold shoulder, spitting a light rain upon them. Hallowe'en being right around the corner, it was time to make plans for that night. They kicked carelessly along through the bright rainbow of fallen maple leaves. "What about that decision we made last winter; to find out who lives in the old mansion on Murray Hill?"

"Please!" Janey quailed,"don't remind me! I sure wish I hadn't thought of drawing straws."

"Well, we wouldn't have had to if one of those bullies had the guts to volunteer. Ever since those Irish boys moved here from the city, they have been acting all kinds of tough, even mean, but they're as chicken as all get out."

Wendy's opinion of Kevin,Tommy,Timmy and Teddy Murphy was thickly spread on that reply. Those four, followed closely by their younger siblings, all male, were the ruin of an otherwise great social atmosphere among the kids who had grown up in their rural-going-suburban neighborhood. The Dion boys, to one side of Janey's house, six of them, pretty much made up one team, while a few other boys and girls aged seven and up to junior high made the other team for baseball games. Together they spent their summer fun and holiday break times on adventures in the fields and woods that backed up their homes.

With their noisy arrival from a large town to the north that was dying out as an industrial center, the relative peace and predictable pace of summer's activities had been turned upside down. They stuck together as only kids from a large family will, against everyone they met and often launched assaults on the girls with no apparent cause or reason other than to have big laugh at the expense of their new "hick" neighbors. Janey thought, as they walked against the worsening winds, of how strange it wast to be pushed around all summer by the new hooligans, and still turn out to be the only one who would need the courage to ring the doorbell of that mansion on Hallowe'en night! " Well, we'll show 'em just how tough they are this time," fishing for more support from her friend," won't we, Wendy?"

"Sure, Janes, but what about ReRe?" ReRe was Janey's little sister in the second grade. A good little kid as a rule but she had no stomach for adventure,although she was terribly fond of threatening to Tell On You if she wasn't invited along.It was something Janey just couldn't figure out.

"Oh....Yeah.."Janey groaned a little,"She is always a problem is she gets scared that we might get in trouble with Mom and Dad." She kicked at a tin can in the leaves. "Don't worry. I'll get started on her tonight so she'll be ready by Monday night. See you tomorrow then?" They were at Wendy's house now. Wendy gave her the high sign and turned up the driveway to the little Cape Cod cottage that was surrounded by late autumn chrysanthemums.

Janey went on toward home, her head swirling with thoughts of how much trouble the Murphy brothers had caused since the summer before last when they moved in. She looked down into the north lot of the family home, which lay below the road level, and remembered the baseball games of last summer, the firefly hunt and the general hoo-hah that the gang could drum up with not much more than their imaginations and a few props such as cowboy hats and wooden rifles, frisbees or hula hoops. How to keep ReRe from spoiling their plans was uppermost in her mind. Most of all, she was wondering how the Murphy's would try to sabotage their Hallowe'en fun and if they would even dare to go to the mansion with her.

This was not how she wanted the school year to begin. Junior High was supposed to be more grown up and sensible! The wind seemed to whine now as she hurried to meet her curly haired little sister at the school bus stop.


That Evening

After they had finished doing the supper dishes, they went outside. The rain had stopped,but it was dark so they just hung around in the driveway together.

"Whaddya wanna do now?" ReRe was always asking Janey this question it seemed. Janey wanted to slip over to Wendy's house but if she told ReRe, she just knew the little poop would run in and tell Mom,who forbade leaving the yard after dark. This would always grant ReRe a free ticket to anywhere
that Janey went. She shoved the dirt around with the toe of her PF Flyers for a moment, not answering.

"Isn't it Hallowe'en on Monday,Janey?" if they had not been making little second grader decorations all week.

" Yeah,it is...Wait a minute!" Janey teased back at her.


In The RagBag

Saturday morning found them out in the yard, raking an enormous pile of leaves. Wendy came cruising down the driveway on her bicycle. As she got off and approached the pile of leaves, ReRe suddenly leaped from the pile shouting " TRICK OR TREAT!". The older girls gently pushed her over in the leaves and began to bury her in the red,yellow and pink leaves of New England's autumn glory. ReRe just giggled the whole time."S-Stop! Stoppp Iit! I can't see!" complained the little second grader and she staggered about in a dizzy circle. Wendy and Janey exchanged conspiratorial glances.

Right on cue, Wendy said,"GEEZE,Janes! She looks like the real thing all right; Just like a real bride. Look at the train and all the fancy lace." She reached over and pulled down the petticoat so the curls popped all the way out. She grabbed some old panty hose from the bag and jammed the seat end on top of ReRe's head, on leg to the side and one to the rear for the train.

"Perfect!" said big Sis," Just like a real bride. Any sailor would be glad to come marry you! Go down and show your Mom,Quick!" ReRe stumbled and Janey showed her how to hold up her 'gown' and walk without tripping. Down the stairs she thumped on her plump little legs,yelling out "Hey MAAAA!Look!I'm a Briiiiide!" The two friends started to sing Here Comes the Bride, but fell down on the floor, in painful laughter as ReRe sank from view.

                                Sunday Afternoon at Janey's House

"How's the plan going so far, Janes?"

" So far,so good. I'm taking her up to my attic to make a costume. You come up too. You know she listens to you!" Janey winked in complicity at her friend.

" Good idea. Let's go!" Wendy grasped the plan without needing it spelled out. While she untied her transistor radio from the handlebars,Janey yelled to ReRe,
"Hey! Go in and ask Mom if we can go up and check out the RagBag for our costumes, okay?" Without looking back,ReRe raced into the house, leaves trailing in her wake. She was back in a flash,breathlessly proclaiming that it was okay with Mom, and don't-make-a-mess! She flew up the stairs at the rear of the garage. The two older girls giggled and rolled their eyes, feeling so much more mature.

"C'mon."Janey invited,"this is gonna be good." UP the stairs they went as Wendy tuned in her radio to WPRO AM, "the station that reaches the beaches" was their slogan. The light from the windows at either end of the roof peaks gave the attic what Janey thought of as an Artists Loft feeling. She had little piles of stuff on the floor around the edges of the room. There was a clock radio that she kept blowing fuses with while tyring to make it turn on her turntable at 7AM. A stack of teen age fan magazines were in a slippery pile,along with the American Girl mag she got in the mail. This was strewn around and old couch cushion. A dozen or so empty Coke bottles waited to be redeemed for next weeks lunch money,,,twenty five cents a meal. Except for being banned periodically from the attic for blowing the fuses in the whole house,most often when her mother was sewing, this was Janey's personal hangout; So much better,she thought, than the room she had to share with such a little sister!

The RagBag was a family institution; a hangover from her mother's WW II high school days. Everything was saved then due to war caused shortages. They always had Hand-me-downs and when no one smaller was left to wear them,the worn out things went to the RagBag. Now there were rags to polish Dad's car, or wash windows but best of all were the endless costumes the girls could put together from it all.

"Look!" ReRe piped out,"I could be a sailor!"She poked her head through the neck line of Dad's old Maritime pinafore. Sailors were all over town up in Attleboro these days, waiting to ship out to Japan, "where the boys are" as Connie Francis informed them. They were just sailor crazy at the time.

"Yes," Janey recited,"and you could be Five-Seven like Dad to so it would fit,right?"

ReRe's bottom lip started to droop."Watch it,Janes" Wendy cautioned

"Hey,ReRe, look at this." She pulled out an old petticoat that went with an old prom gown. "You could be a bride, see?" and she jammed it down over the little cherub's head before she could disagree. Wendy grabbed her up by the hands and twirled her around, fifties style, to 'Dancin' in The Streets'. Then she tugged on the Bridal Gown to straighten it out some. The child was buried in crinoline and lace so she could barely see out over the neckline.

" What,what,what is it?" the little one chanted while hopping from one foot to the other. It was a game they played all the time.

"Have you figured out what you're gonna be this year? You got your costume made yet?"ReRe's eyes froze on some object on the wall for a moment,then glazed over a bit. She snapped out of the effort to visualize a costume.

"No!!! I don't have any ideas! Will you help me, puh-leeeze?"

"Okay, but it's late and dark." said the older sister,"Tomorrow we'll ask Mom if we can go up in the attic of the garage and figure our costumes out. Wendy's coming over too." The little ones eyes grew bigger and brighter. "Maybe she'll help you think of something, okay?"

"Oh boy oh boy!" She started hopping up to the end of the driveway. "Wendy Wendy Wendy's coming! Ha-llo-weeeeen,Ha-llo-weeen!" Janey grinned over the way her kid sister always fell in for her ideas. She was sure that bringing Wendy in would be a big help towards getting the little one's head 'ready' for this mission at the Murray Hill mansion. Every body knew it was Haunted. Her job was to help ReRe forget all about that as she was key to ringing the door bell there,on Hallowe'en especially! ReRe was crazy as a dog about Wendy. This would be her chance to work ReRe into the right frame of mind for the mission ahead.


Monday, Hallowe'en Day

"So now what?" Wendy looked her way.

"What what?" Janey shot back.

"Did you tell her what's up for Trick or Treat yet?"

"Ahh...I was thinking we could pretend there's a wedding on the porch." She seemed lost in a wide angle view of the attic. Wendy could see it.

"That might work, but who is the groom? Huh? She
flipped through the pile of albums," She won't go for it without one...will she?"

" Geeze, Wen, she's a second grader. She's not into boys much."She despaired for a moment, then brightened up."I know...we'll tell her that he's waiting up on the porch.'ll be dark. We'll have to go up together and see." She seemed to be focusing in again on Wendy, with an aksing

"Okay," eyebrows narrowing on her friends face, " So we get up there, and there's no groom. Then what?" Janey took a sharp breath. What then?

" I guess that's when I tell her he must
be waiting inside and just ring the door bell." The stared at each other, faces frozen,as the moment of truth revealed itself.

"Yeah,Janes" whispered Wendy," I guess. that would be the whole
thing. Two birds with one stone, eh?"

" Hey you guys!" The two girls jumped like frogs at the sound. " Mom says I look perfect and I can use her lipstick too! Hey what's wrong with you guys?" Breathlessly, ReRe tripped over to them." Where are your costumes?" as she nearly fell on top them with excitement. All the painful laughter started again.

" I guess I'd better get home." Wendy got her feet moving and stood up. I'll come over at dark. You will be ready?"

" Maybe we should walk down to your house. There's two of us. "She looked at the little Bride. "Besides,It'll get me out of the house before everybody shows up at the door."


That night, after supper...

" Now you watch out for your sister, young lady,and I want you home in two hours. Understand?"Mom said. They Headed out into the chilly,moonless .

"Okay, Ma." Janey smiled. She had been so caught up in the big plans,that she almost forgot her own costume.To too-long pants and a worn out suit coat from the RagBag,she added a battered old Bogart hat. With some charcoal smudged on her mug it was Hobo like. When they picked up Wendy, there were shrieks of laughter.

" Well don't we look handsome tonight!" Wendy chided her friend.

" Hey, cut it out! Who told you to dress like me!" Janey shot back. The laughing at the sight of themselves went on as the three girls went about collecting treats. Janey's radar went off. "SHHHHH!"Wendy hissed. "You hear that?" There was a sinister giggle from a multiple voice in the bushes. "ReRe, stay with Wendy.Be quite."

She tried to sneak around to the side. Too late,the boys leaped out. Making growling, snarling noises, they circled the girls and sang " Here come's the bride, ten miles wide...nyaa nyaa nya yaaa yaaa ..." ReRe started to cry,both afraid as well as insulted.The Irish Goblins danced around them and shook a bottle of very cheap cologne all over the place.

"I wanna go home!" the little Bride exploded at them.

"Moron! What'd you do that for?" she turned on the big one. The always knew who to get under her skin.

"Oh yeah? Well it takes one to know one." answered the second sized boy. She couldn't help but notice he was wearing the ass end of a donkey suit, but bit her lip.

" Hey let's cut it out!" Wendy cut them off with a light swipe between them with her arm. "We know you like to pick on little girls." They glared eyeball to eyeball almost. "Do you remember our deal about tonight?" Just like that, they all forgot what they were up to. All eyes followed Janey's up the hill. There stood the Mansion,like a black hulk with it's towers. The gingerbread decorations on the porch,were just waiting to snag the loose threads of their the dark. The elder boy began to sputter,"Well,hell no!" with as much brass as he could summon. "We're just here to make sure that, Janey Short Straw." The brothers all added
gung-ho noises, laughing at the new nick name for Janey.

"Wh-What are we gonna do?" ReRe tugged at Janey's sleeve and fastened her eyes.

"We're going up to the top of the hill,of course." slightly loud, for the other guys to hear.

"Wh-What For?" the Bride squeaked out.

"You're a Bride, right? That means you're getting married,right?" added Wendy.

" Bit I don't wanna get ma-aaa-ried!!"she wailed. The boys began to imitate her.

"Dry up, will ya!" Janey shouted at them. She took her sisters hand. "Sure you do. Look at the neat bride's dress and your pretty flowers." She fluffed up the knot of yellow ragweed. Now you even smell like a bride! That's perfect for the groom too!" She took the cushy chin in her hand and tilted ReRe's head up."You're all ready to go,ReRe." Janey was flying by the seat of her pants now. She had to keep little sister on an even keel.There would be no end to it if she towed her home crying.

With a little urging from Wendy, her sense of drama began
to take hold. She love to play Make Believe. "Well then" bravely sniffing," Who-who's the gr-groom?"Janey turned to Wendy.

"Oh, he's waiting up on the porch for us. C'mon let's go see."she reached for her hand.

"Yeah, ReRe...let's All go and see," shooting over to the boys,"SHALL we?" The dare was the bait they finally took. Instead of going up the drive as they had before, the two groups went straight up the hill, just as if they were dragging sleds and toboggans. Janey suddenly realized that ReRe had a right to be nervous. She was too young to remember back to that day and how this night became what it is, in the first place...


The Flashback..Previous December

It was a chilly December day, the kind of Currier and Ives scene that comes to mind when the holiday season comes around. Christmas break gave the kids endless days to ride down that long, long, hill below the Murray mansion. Janey and her sister had received a brand new Silver Streak runner sled from Santa. To them, there was nothing else in this world to do but ride it over the twelve inches of snow that came down on Christmas Eve. The Murphy boys were there with their toboggan, just flying with no regard for anyone else on the hill. She and ReRe had just been run down for the third time by the Murphy Express. ReRe was crying hard and had a big, blue bump on her cheek.

“Hey, you bums! You hurt her face!” Janey yelled at them when they
got back up to the halfway point on the hill.

“ReRe’s Fa-aaace…” Teddy and Tommy mimicked her with squealy voices.

“Her face was hurt when she was born!” They laughed and threw chunks
of ice at the two girls.

“THAT’S IT!” Janey threw herself on the oldest, who was closest,
kicking and swinging, only actually connecting with him a couple
of times. The ire between them had been building since school started
back in September. She was determined to settle his hash
once and for all, right here on the hill if need be. I would get her
in hot water,but it could also buy them some peace from it all.
The crowd of sledders,all from nearby,gathered around the
action and shouted for both sides. When one of them got knocked
into the crowd, some one else would shove them back into their
opponent’s face again. He out weighed her by almost double,
but Janey had picked up a couple of Judo moves from practicing
with her big brother. She would sweep the big, clumsy kid
on his backside, again and again. Used to just being bigger and
throwing his weight to overcome others, he was now slowing down from
the effort. Janey was just realizing that if she won, there were six more
brothers behind him.

“OH, my god! Look at that!”one of the girls was screaming and staring at
the mansion. The fight slammed to a stop at the sound.They
followed her eyes up to the mansion. A pale, white face had appeared from
behind a curtain. It disappeared in an instant. They all started in frozen
amazement. It seemed to float there, and stare back at them. Just as the lot
of them had gotten a glimpse, the face quickly dissolved right before their eyes.

“Wow, did you see that?”somebody whispered.

“I thought that place was empty!”another one said.

“Nobody’s ever been in a window before.” The fight seemed to be over,
as if it never happened, while the shock was being absorbed by all of the kids.

“Who do you suppose that was?, Wendy said to Janey.

“I don’t know…whose house is it,anyway?” Janey asked looking around
at the others.

“Don’t look at us,” said Tommy,“we just moved here, remember?”
How could she forget?

“Yeah,I remember, and I’m gonna remember you moving away too, jerk!”

“Hey, cut it out,”Wendy cut in, “we’ve got ghost up there,remember that?”

“Aw…you’re nuts.There’s no such thing as ghosts.” The older boy was breathing slower now. “Everybody knows that.”

“Well then,” Janey turned to him, ”if you’re so sure of that, why don’t you
just go and ring the doorbell and see?”

“Oh no,…nope,not me! YOU go!” he looked to his brothers, who all seemed
to approve of the idea.

“What’s the matter, Murphy? Scared or something?”she pushed his way.

”You want to send a girl up there,Chicken Man?”

“Janey,don’t…stop it.”Wendy cautioned with a hand on Janey’s arm.

ReRE was still sniffling over the bump on her head, and threatening to tell
on them all. Janey stood there glaring death at Murphy. She knew 
Wendy was right, but there had to be a way to bring that bully down a peg or
two. While rubbing an eye that would be a rainbow of color by tomorrow's supper time,an idea flashed into her mind. “Okay you chickens, here’s what we’ll do then. One of us will ring the bell on Hallowe’en. Okay? Then we will know for sure.”

“Why wait ‘til Hallowe’en?” asked another boy from the back.
“Because everybody knows that’s when the ghosts can come out and see us, that's why” she retorted as if an authority on the topic

Tommy asked over his shoulder, “But how are we gonna to know who will ring the bell?” Janey reached to the bottom of her coat pocket. There was a bunch of cellophane wrapped,cinnamon flavored toothpicks. She always took several from the donut shop when they got to go there.

“We’ll draw straws, fair enough? We’ll use these toothpicks.” They all hesitated a minute and muttered to each other that maybe they should be getting home now. A few turned and rode down on their sleds, but then headed home. It was just the three girls and the Murphy boys now.One by one, the straws were picked from her fist and visible relief was shown my all but the last. To her mortified surprise, the last straw was the short one, and it was hers.

“HAW, HAW, HAW!!” the boys crowed and laughed. “Look who’s chicken now!”
Murphy was dripping in delight over her dilemma backfiring this way.
Wendy checked the straw to be sure it was really the short one.

“Geeze! What are you going to do now?” Wendy's wide eyes were
on her. Janey turned and looked down the hill, out at the field
across the road. The corn was long ago cut, and the deep snow
covered all the evidence. She felt like the others had all just faded away
behind her. This could be trouble. She tried not to think about
her friend's question. The cold in her fingers and toes was
beginning to hurt a little, bringing her back to the moment.

“I…I guess I’m gonna ring the bell….” she said flatly, to nobody in particular.
It was now dusk.  The laughter of the kids faded along with the daylight as they descended the hill one last time and straggled home, like small dark periods dragging sled commas across the graying landscape. ReRe’s sniffling came through to Janey now and she took her little sister’s hand,  remembering the ragweed.

With Wendy gathering the sleds, they headed home to supper, and the Spanish Inquisition. There were bound to be many questions from Mom and Dad, not all  of them rhetorical. Not only were the consequences of losing her temper troubling her, but Hallowe’en, once so far, far off in the coming year,now felt like tomorrow. Janey wished she lived far away from there…all alone....

************ .

To The Mansion...October 31st

The Murphy boys were jibing at the girls from the rear guard as their little unit climbed the hill. ReRe kept stumbing on her gown and mumbling about getting in trouble. Janey held her hand snuggly and Wendy whispered reassurances to the little Bride. Janey took the point, eyes peeled to her left and right. What did she expect to see after all? They had all seen this place hundreds of times. It was still the big, gray Victorian house that sat atop this hill and watched them pull up their sleds, or ride their bikes past on their way to fishing down the road. She'd seen it hundreds of times if she'd seen it once. It was quite another sight after dark.

The maples and the oak trees closed in around the porch more, and wind set the branches to clawing the sides of the house. It sent the leaves scratching across the hard ground and stone walkway,whispering disapproval of their presence. The rain gutters cut the air and sang a  dirge in the key of goose bumps.

There were lights on inside! Never before had they seen the cracks between the drapes glowing. As they got to the steps of the porch Janey stopped and the whole gang bumbled into her.They were too busy gawking upwards at the Tower, a black, pointy witch hat for a roof and little windows like two square eyes. "Ya see that tower, ReRe?" Tommy whispered to her,"That's were the groom will lock you up when yer married." All of the boys laughed pretty hard at that one.

"You stuff it right now or I'll stuff this down your neck."Wendy was waving a fist in front of him so he'd see it. "Don't listen ReRe. He's just a moron."
"Well what are you waiting for Captain Janey? Cold feet all of a sudden?" the oldest boy said while standing safely behind them all. Janery stared. The door bell button was made visible by a gliint of the moonlight, right there, beside the ornate wooden door. The broom by near the door jamb trembled in the wind,causing a "shhshhshhshshshsh!". The end of the porch where three steps lay waiting for her to bolt seemed a mile away.

"Shut up, Murphy," Janey hissed,"If we live through this, I hope you get drafted." She found she was thinking of the trouble they all got into back on
the night of the fight right out on that grass. She looked back to the door, looming large with every step. What if there was even more trouble waiting for them?  'Too late to think about that now',she told herself.' It's time to put my money where my mouth is'. If there really is a ghost, she could out run everybody at school and not  as much worried as just plain scared.
"Go on then, Captain Short Straw" he poked again. With a slight tremor in her hand, she reached for the button. As her finger felt the cold metal of the botton, and before she could push it...the door creaked open and light spilled on to the porch, revealing them all to the night. They stood stock still, holding their breaths.
"Oh oh ohhhhhh,,,I'm Scaaaared!" squealed ReRe.

" Well,look what we have here." said a small but unperturbed old voice. Before them stood a very old woman who towered over them with a straight back. Spindly legs sprouted below a black and white,flower print dress. The two big girls slowly looked at each other, wearing "O's" of expression in their mouths. Crows feet sprouted from the sides of her face, which wore a nearly white powder. This face was strong jawed and framed in black pin curls that barely showed any gray. Still,she seemed so pale and frail, as if she weren't really there. She took a step backward and said, "Well...what can I do for you tonight?"

Nobody moved, and nobody breathed on that porch. The wind had picked up a little and sent the leaves and branches to protesting. ReRe was trembling and Janey's hand was hurting from the squeeze the little Bride was exerting on it. They were in a common dream, caught in a black and white still shot. "Ahem..." the old woman coughed and looked sideways.

"T-trick o-or Treat?" Janey at last let out.

"Now that's more like it!" she smiled down on the kids." Would you care to come into the kitchen with me?". She smiled, turned and seemed to just float down the wainscoted hallway towards a warm smell of baking. One by one, they crossed the threshold of fear and stepped into fascination and adventure.


How do you spell...?

The kitchen was very large after the country kitchens from a century before Janey's time. The yellow walls rested on light grey wainscoting and the cupboards looked as though they could hold enough food for an army. They cautiously accepted her invitation to look up on the counter. She was standing beside a large sheet cake. "I was just finishing up decorations on this cake." she said quietly. They could see pumpkins and black cats all around, with a thick, orange ribbon of frosting waving it's way around the whole cake. In the center in black and orange frosting script it said "Happy Hallowe." 'Would a ghost bake a cake?', Janey wondered silently. "Does anyone know how to spell this word?" she asked as she pointed to "Hallowe...".

Janey looked at her. "H-al-l-0-w-e-'-e-n?" she spoke as politely as possible.

"Yes. That's exactly right. I'll bet you are very good at spelling in school?"

"Well...." Janey blushed at the giggles behind her.

"There now," said "Mrs. Murray" as she finished off the word with orange icing. "Who would like a piece of cake?" No one spoke. Could a ghost's cake be eaten? Would it make you sick? Janey swore she could hear the boys drooling on the floor though. "It's chocolate, you know..."

"I do! I do!" came the little voices from the group. From around the corner came a tall man with blonde Bryl-Creamed hair, wearing a mohair sweater.
"This is my son, David" Mrs. said as she took his hand ."David. We are about to have some cake in the parlor. Would you help us please?" David smiled at his mother and as she served up the cake on little tea plates, he led them into the large front parlor of the mansion. He bid them sit by the fire or anywhere near it. Everyone was staring around, mouths wide open, at all the well kept antique furniture. She floated slowly in and took her seat on the sofa close to the fire. David followed close behind with a tray of hot chocolate for all. As they happily chowed down on the chocolate cake and sipped at the cocoa, she asked them all about themselves.

"We all go to the same school in town, elementary and junior high." Wendy told her.

"Do you all live nearby? I think you are some of the sledders I see in the winter time,yes?" the old woman asked gently. They all blushed to think that she may have been the one who witnessed the only time things got that out of hand among them.

"Yes,M'am," Janey sought to change the subject. "May I ask you a question?"

"Of course you may,Dear. More cake anyone?" There were hands up and thank you's for that.

 "We never knew anyone lived here before."

"Oh, I have been so rude!" she cried in a bird voice. " Where are my manners? I am Mrs. Murray. I have lived here since my marriage to my poor departed husband, some 74 years ago. I was the only school teacher here for a long long time. Why, I'll bet I taught some of your grandparents! And whom might you be?" she raised her eyebrows for some emphasis.

'When my grandparents were young? She must be at least a hundred!' Janey couldn't help thinking. As the kids explained themselves, and their parents names, she brightened up and welcomed them all, as newcomers.

It was getting late for the reclusive old woman of the hill. She suggested David see them to the door and give them a grab in the Trick or Treat sack. She saw them to the door and told them to come back again,"Maybe around Christmas time to help me with my tree. David always finds one that nearly touches the cieling!" She waved a white bony hand,"Bye Bye now!"

As they filed past her on their way out, they all remembered their manners and mumbled awestruck thank you's to her. Back out in the dark of night, they shivered a little and began to descend the hill. There was a quiet sense of peace around them. "Well" said one of the boys in the dark,"She was no ghost. That's for sure.

"Nope. But she was a hundred years old I'll just bet. That was even better than a ghost, right ReRe?" Wendy chucked the little Bride's head. They negotiated their separate ways home and ReRe tugged on Janey's hand.
"I didn't get married yet, Janey"

"I know,ReRe, but I think David was a little too old for you." the three of them broke into a giggle fit.

"Here comes the bride...ten miles wide...nya nya nya nya.." came the Murphy brothers comment on that idea. ReRe started to leak around the eyes and threw her Ragweed bouquet at them.

"Shut up, you little farts." Wendy shouted at them.

"C'mon, ReRe,"Janey took her by the hand again,"It's getting cold. Let's go home and show what we got for Trick or Treat!"

"Yeah Let's!" she creid eagerly, already forgetting the fun the boys had made of her. As they walked away from the hill, Janey and Wendy turned to look at the Murphys going on ahead, then back at each other.

"Well,Janes," Wendy said to her friend, "that sure was a short truce,eh?"

"Yeah,sure was," Janey said through a sigh."nice while it lasted. Looks like it's going to be another long winter on our street." They just nodded agreement, and waved goodbye at Wendy's house , until tomorrow.

The End

1 comment:

  1. Dear Readers: I apologize for the terrible formatting of the last part of this tale,as it appears here. Blogspot was in a spate of PMS that just would not quit. The more I tried to mend it, the more the tear grew. Sort of like trying to glue a paper napkin back together. IF you made it all the way to the end,I Salute You! I also thank you from the bottom of my heart!


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