Terri Kaiser

I love Halloween. That time when ghouls and goblins and ghosts lurk around every corner; when the wind shrieks through the trees just after the sun goes down, whistling secrets and telling lies. When the darkness speaks of the unspeakable and the moon throws shadowy fingers waiting to take form and take us into the depths of the forest.

Now, you would think from all of that I would love a good scary movie. I do not. I talk a good talk, but I'm a Halloweenie. Back in high school I loved the Dark Shadows movies, but then I saw Burnt Offerings and that was enough for me. For weeks after, I would see the demented chauffeur in my rear-view mirror. Yikes!

When I was a child, we could still trick or treat into the night. How I looked forward to venturing into the darkness to see what lurked, and, of course, get lots of candy. If anyone gave out Mounds Bars and Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, so much the better. There was an elderly woman who lived on the corner up the street who gave out actual big candy bars. Obviously, hers was the go-to house. Getting that full Hersey bar in my hot little hand was like being handed the holy grail.

When my two boys were little I dressed them in all sorts of costumes. I wasn't one of those mothers talented enough to sew cute or horrifying creations. That's where the Ben Franklin store came in handy. It was always fun to see what the boys would pick out to wear. On the big night my husband and I trudged them out to see what treats they would gather, and who had the best decorated house in the neighborhood. Inevitably, every single year, Billy would throw up and that would be the end of the evening. The kid was a master at stuffing candy into his mouth when Mom wasn't looking.

When the boys were a bit older, they didn't want the store-bought costumes anymore. For some reason, and I hope this isn't a comment on my parenting, they wanted to be these slasher-monster people. The youngest was worse than the eldest. I pleaded with him not to go out that way, but there he went. All it took was a ripped-up T-shirt and jeans, face paint, a multi-colored clown wig, a plastic machete, and lots of red paint drizzled all over to look like blood. Every year! At least he was consistent.

I wax on about the past, but the present isn't so bad, either. Park Falls now does a Haunted House the weekend before and the day of Halloween. A very talented group of demented people from our community come together at an abandoned house near the cemetery and create something truly terrifying. My husband and I went and came away quite impressed. These people that I see in the grocery store, or the post office, or at the library, are hiding some terrifying talents. It's almost more fun to sit outside, listening to the screams, and watch as people emerge for one last encounter on the porch.

I do miss living in town and decorating for the holiday, carving pumpkins and seeing the hopeful little faces come to our door. Although, I still experience that feeling, as Halloween looms, that we really don't know what lurks behind that tree, whether the cemetery comes to life at night, what secrets lie around the next corner, what goes bump in the night. Such fun!

As a side note, my boys have grown into decent, loving individuals who wouldn't slash a fly. Really, they're nice guys. Just don't go near Billy on the big night unless you have a puke bag.

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