Back Page: Tricky Treats

A legion of Mr. Hydes await their holiday
by Jonathon McGoran

After all the stories of apples with razorblades and drug-laced cookies he’d heard growing up, Greg was surprised the notion of trick-or-treating had survived for his son Duncan to partake in. For a while, it seemed like over-chaperoned parties were the future of Halloween, but maybe bobbing for apples turned the tide; submerging your face in a bucket your friends had been drooling into for the previous 20 minutes was surely worse than anything you’d encounter on the street. 

Duncan was covered in the usual: duct-tape and cardboard. Greg couldn’t remember what it was supposed to look like, but it was looking less like it by the minute. They had joined forces like they did every year with Barry and his son Chris, from next door. Chris was dressed as “Dr.-Jekyll-and-Mr.-Hyde-wearing-a-store-bought-Batman-costume.” Each year, he was “Jekyll-and-Hyde-in-a-store-bought-something.” It was always very convincing—at least the Jekyll and Hyde part. He was a nice kid until he took his potion—high-fructose corn syrup and a little artificial coloring. Then he became a monster.

Barry looked nervous, like he knew the change was coming. Greg felt for him. They tried to keep it healthy, but on Halloween it was hopeless. By the time they reached the last house on their route, Duncan’s costume was rapidly shedding parts, and candy-lust had given way to whining about the weight of his bag. Chris’s bag didn’t seem quite so heavy. He’d been emptying it out as quickly as he was filling it. Now, he was in full Mr. Hyde mode, running across lawns and cackling, his cape in tatters. His Batman mask was stuck in a hedge somewhere. But when Duncan rang the bell, Chris appeared out of the bushes in time to yell, “Trick or treat!”

Mrs. Scofield admired what was left of their costumes and gave them their choice of local apples or homemade date-nut bars. “Okay,” she said with an indulgent smile, totally misinterpreting the look they both gave her. “You can have both.”

The boys’ arms drooped a little lower as the apples fell heavily into the trick or treat bags. As they headed towards home, Chris fished the date-nut bar out of his bag and looked at it, confused.
“Those look healthy and delicious,” Greg said brightly.

Barry shook his head as they stopped between their houses. “If it’s not wrapped, it’s not safe.”
Chris had already dumped the date bar and was sucking down a fluorescent blue gummy worm. Greg laughed before he could stop himself. “So, you’re worried about Mrs. Scofield’s cookies, even though everything else in that bag says right on the label there’s stuff in it that can kill you?”

“Part of the charm of Halloween,” Barry said, looking at him like he was nuts. Duncan was giving him the same look. Chris was throwing rocks at a stop sign.

“Yeah, I guess it is,” Greg replied, steering Duncan inside. “Well, Happy Halloween.”

As they entered the house, Duncan looked up at him and held up a blue gummy worm. “Dad, can I have one more piece of candy?”

Greg sighed. “Yeah, go ahead, Mr. Hyde.”