As Preston, Jared, Reggie, and Dale snuck out of Reggie’s car and slithered among the shadows of the sidewalk, Jared said, “I heard Andy ratted us out, guys. They’re saying Mr. Washington bribed him with doughnuts.”
Reggie replied, “So what if he did? Look, Mr. Washington’s house is completely dark. He’s probably in bed by now.”
“I bet he doesn’t even hand out candy to trick-or-treaters,” Preston laughed.
“He’d probably just give math problems to solve,” Dale added.
“Well,” Reggie began, “he’s definitely getting a trick tonight.”
The boys, hunched over like covert operatives, glided through Mr. Washington’s yard. Jared and Dale veered off past the weeping willow and started jabbing plastic fork after plastic fork into the well-kept grass while Preston and Reggie broke out the plastic wrap and headed for the driveway. There rested Mr. Washington’s prized possession—a 1955 red and white Crown Victoria.
“We should have brought toilet paper,” Preston whispered as he moved to the opposite side of the car.
“Nah, too boring,” Reggie said. “Man, I can’t wait to see Mr. Washington’s face Monday morning. We’re going to be legends after this!”
Stabbing one fork after another into the cool ground, Dale glanced over and saw Preston and Reggie tightly wrapping the car. “This is awesome!” he whispered to Jared. “No one’s ever been able to pull a prank on Mr. Washington!”
Jared grinned and returned, “Looks like there’s a first time for everything.”
Just then, Mr. Washington erupted from the front porch while hurling eggs at the boys. He yelled, “You scoundrels! What took you so long? I’ve been waiting all night!”
With yolk oozing down his forehead, Dale screamed, “Run! Andy snitched!”
But then Mr. Washington tripped over the last step and landed hard on the front walk.
Broken eggs surrounded his inert body.
Preston, Reggie, Jared, and Dale all laughed … until they realized he wasn’t getting up. Knowing their teacher’s reputation for deception, they gingerly approached.
Even in the dark, they saw something amiss.
“Oh, my—is that blood?” Dale asked beneath his breath.
Preston said, “Turn his body over so we can see his face.”
“No!” Reggie exclaimed. “Never move someone who’s unconscious.”
“We should call an ambulance,” Dale said.
Jared demanded, “He’s face down in his own blood, guys—we have to move him or he could choke to death!”
“If he’s not already dead,” Dale added.
“Shut up with that!” Reggie admonished.
Preston knelt beside his felled teacher. He took Mr. Washington by the shoulders and rolled him over.
Jared said, “Turn on a flashlight so we can see how bad he’s hurt.”
Once illuminated, Mr. Washington’s face–implausibly injured–horrified his students.
Reggie uttered, “We killed him.”
“We’re going to jail,” Preston muttered after turning away.
Jared, his voice shaking, whimpered, “But it wasn’t our fault … ”
Suddenly, the boys saw the porch lights flare to life as Mrs. Washington shrieked, “Noah? Noah? What happened?”
They could not move when Mrs. Washington rushed down the porch steps and hurled herself upon her husband’s body.
With tear-stained cheeks, she looked up and wailed, “What did you do? What did you do to my darling Noah?”
Lifting his palms up in surrender, Jared cried, “Nothing! He just fell! We didn’t touch him!”
Mr. Washington abruptly sprang to unnatural life, dragged his wife to the ground, and then appeared to seize her jugular with his front teeth.
Blood spurted from Mrs. Washington’s neck even as she begged for mercy.
Jared and Dale did not hesitate. They bolted.
Reggie and Preston remained, but when they saw Mrs. Washington go limp and Mr. Washington face them with blood dripping down his chin, they quickly followed suit.
Mr. Washington’s bestial roars gave way to uncontrollable laughter.
“Are they gone?” Mrs. Washington asked while sitting up and wiping the fake blood from her neck.
“They’re gone,” Mr. Washington guffawed. “You did great, honey!”
Mrs. Washington looked at her husband and said, “How I let you talk me into this foolishness is beyond me. That’s the last time you use my supplies for these silly pranks of yours.”
“Fair enough,” Mr. Washington said before giving his wife a messy peck on the cheek. “I can’t wait to see those jokers’ faces Monday morning when they walk into class and see me standing there.”
No longer able to resist laughing as well, Mrs. Washington smiled and said, “Well, this was one of your best, I’ll give you that. You’ll never outgrow these things, will you?”
“What? And give them the upper hand? Over my dead body!”
Mrs. Washington put her arm around her husband’s waist, shook her head, and then ascended the porch steps with him.
“What do you say we leave the lights on for any trick-or-treaters?” Mr. Washington asked.
“Isn’t it a little late for that? They shouldn’t be out at this hour.”
“Oh,” Mr. Washington sang, “there are always a few stragglers. Just this once, I think I’ll reward tardiness.”
Mrs. Washington almost asked if her husband would like to clean the gruesome make-up off his face before handing out candy, but she knew better than to bother.
Copyright © 2008/2019 by Scott William Foley
This work originally appeared in Bloomington News and Views for the Young at Heart, October 2008
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews or articles.