Growing up on Flamingo, my three brothers, The Sister and I saw a lot of strange things. In those seven years we caught a double-headed lizard, not once but twice. Both times we let him go, so it could’ve been the same one.
Big Brother James spied a giant black cat up in a tree and wanted to climb up, catch it, then take it home. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an escaped panther from the traveling zoo. The zoo folks didn’t let him go. The black panther, not James.
The panther escaped during feeding time. With Mom being the best cook on all of Flamingo, escaping during feeding time was something none of us kids would ever think about doing.
Then there was Goliath. Goliath was the 100-pound catfish Neighbor Thomas caught in the swimming lake in front of the Haunted Forest. Thomas wanted to keep him in an ice cooler full of lake water forever. But after a couple of hours in his bedroom, his mom made him throw Goliath back. Giant or not, she said she wasn’t going to live with anything else that was stinky.
But none of the above was stranger than what staggered up the street heading right towards us one Halloween.
Like always, dressed in our Halloween costumes, the kids on Flamingo had gathered at the end of our driveway to start trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, this year Bubba Hanks and Goofy Steve were sick, so they said they were staying home in bed. We guessed they both ate too much of the handout candy.
Bully Brad wasn’t there either. He usually showed up along the way before the night was done to steal our candy, but not this year. This year, my brothers and I carried small bags of water balloons to bombard Bully Brad and any of his gang of three that showed up.
It was a perfect cool Halloween night with a slight breeze and clear sky. The brightness of the full moon would make it easy to spot Bully Brad. It also made what was getting closer and closer to us look even more ominous.
The ginormous ghost raised its boney arms as it let out a chilling moan, “OOOOOH!” The ghost, over ten feet tall, continued to moan as it swayed back and forth before us. We all screamed, threw a couple of water balloons that somehow missed the giant ghost, and started to run away.
Then the moaning suddenly stopped and was replaced by laughter. Turning around, it took us a moment to understand what we all were looking at. Goofy Steve and Bubba Hanks weren’t at home sick. Goof held two broomsticks as the giant ghost’s arms and stood on the shoulders of Bubba who held his ankles! Both had been hiding under white sheets their moms had sewn together. Their ghost was not only scary, it was absolutely brilliant.
Later that night we encountered Bully Brad and his gang of three. The giant ghost made another appearance and scared him so badly, he didn’t come out of his house at night for an entire month.
Last week our granddaughters asked me if I had any ideas about what they could dress up as on Halloween. I suggested they go as a ghost. They replied, “We can’t both go as a ghost. We’d look silly.” Then they proceeded to argue about who would be the ghost and who would go as something else.
I smiled and told them, “No, you won’t look silly. Trust me, you’ll look scary. Let me tell you about what happened the last Halloween we lived on Flamingo Street.”
There’re still two weeks before Halloween — lots of time for Sweet Caroline to learn how to stand on her sister’s shoulders.
Now all I have to do is convince The Wife to let me stitch together a couple of our flat white sheets.
For all those little ghost and goblins out there, here’s hoping you have a safe trick-or-treating on Halloween night. And if you happen to see a ten-foot-tall giggling ghost weaving its way down the street, don’t be scared. It’s probably just our sweet granddaughters … probably.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]