They say Carlton 'Skippy' Crenshaw just snappedhis medical charts,
any way, pretty much matched that alarming denotation.
When you think about it, kind of a big name for such
a stumpy little freak.
"Textbook case of random acute dwarfism, brought on by unknown
trauma to spinal chord, likely etoliative entropic effect" his
attending docs had blandly memorialized the handful of horror in that
13 year old record. The old triple 'e ', a third rate bit of alliteration
as a sorry send-up.
AndCarlton had checkedhe was in
a medical textbook, top shelf, 'Rare Pathologies' stacks, Section F.
.n....not the freakin basementCarlton
was nothing if not bemused by their arrogant nonchalance.
You see, his congenital spinal degeneration had, somehow,
separatesnapped, like they wrote in his chart; any way you sliced
it: that was how he heard them joking about it, 'sliced' was the exact
word, any way it got sliced up he'd grow very little.
As it was, a twelve hour operation had 'saved' himfrom
paralysis, but for what, why?
For the textbooks, that's why. A Carny freak, that's
what he is, they said so at Buckwater Middle School, the kids openly,
teachers huddled, hushed in their smoky lounge breaks. And, to boot,
legal do-gooders had insured his suffering in the name of 'mainstreaming'.
Christ on a very small cross, dying forever. Not even a chance for a
second coming, for some righteous ass-kicking.
No matter: they wouldn't even see him coming the first
time, the time he had planned better than some iffy Armageddon.
He owed Speilberg for this one, for his inspiration,
E.T.,only his version anticipated taunts, like 'Extra Tiny', close to
home simile for suffering, little and lost.
Yeah. His resurrection from that almost paralyzed
crossroads between half and whole would be as pagan, as bloody Easter,
the real rising of all souls, on that special evening reserved by the
forgetters for treatsthere would be tricks for 'treatshis
pregnant term for all the insults, all the giggles, all the hurts. He
even had a bloody list, written in the blood of a dead cat he found,
put there, at his bedroom window sill by those dispensers of that 'treat-ment'.
So and so 'treats' me such and such, you get the idea.
And the tricks for those treaters, well, they're more
like variations on one theme, with one memorable kicker.
His costume would be simplicity itself: half a white
sheet, draped over his head, that crowned by a crudelysliced
jack o lantern.
"What're ya gonna be?" was the stupid question
he would hear too many times from his taunting 'treaters'; they didn't
give a shit, waiting only to deliver the setup line: 'you've already
got your costume, freak boy'.
But he wasn't that freakin predictable, no; he'd make
them wonder, make them worry.
"Goin as the ghost a Christ; it's All Hallows'
Eve, right, when all the ghosts appear?" he would say, nothing
else, then waddle away. Let them laugh, nervously this time. Forgive
em, they know not what they'vedone.
'Skippy' won't be stuttering when they come to ask
him about his particular treats, no sir. Even that little 'treat' won't
The police captain paused, looking wan as he peered
over his reading glasses.
"Ladies and gentlemen, what you've just heard
is the twisted diary of a, now, dead young man, Carlton Crenshaw. Sad
to say, he's not the only person who's met his end tonight" his
eyes now moist.
His lieutenant had to finish the grim task: some thirteen
people, all adults, had perished that final night of October.
Thirteen orphans would remember that night the rest
of their scarred lives.
A few days later the details were reported by the
'Taking a grisly page from some of John Carpenter's
horrific film ouvre, young Carlton Crenshaw, after the fashion of the
phantom Michael Myers, did in the parents of his perceived young enemies
on the night of Halloween; it seems that he had placed poison on their
front doorknobs so lethal as to render bare contact with the hands of
those demised people deadly within two hours. Just how he managed to
place it on the inside of those doors remains a mystery.'
What the paper omitted to mention was Carlton's own
demise, and its equally mysterious methodology.
In a vacant field, adjacent to a cemeterylikely
home to the dead parents of his designated 'treaters', the blood-inscribed
list now having been discovered in the half-boy's closetdiscovered
by a barking dog was the corpse of young master Crenshaw, hung upon
a makeshift metal cross, regaled in Halloween sheeting with a carved
pumpkin atop his smallish head, his arms duct-taped behind his twisted
The roll of mostly unused tape was found nearby, as
were the tire tracks of a vintage cardescribed by a witnessing
caretaker as 'sure, a 50's Chevy sedan, yessir'. 'She squealed outta
here like a bat leavin Hell, she did' was all he said, repeatedly to
the police, alcohol-laced spittle punctuating each crude descriptor.
While the old man was not much help, the forensic
people did find a few blonde hairs from what they were sure was a cheap
Later found to belong to the old imbiber/witness to
the endlessly described getaway car, a set of false teeth proved an
equally false clue.
There were no prints on the duct tape roll; what's
more, the same held true of a fresh deck of tarot cards, missing one
pinned to Crenshaw's limp body.
Most puzzling, the police had allowed, only after
persistent queries from the increasingly adamantine editor of the Haranguer,
that however this gruesome suicide/homicide plot had been executed,
it had not been the work of the sickly, almost bedridden dwarf.
One thread of hope was firmly within their grasp,
slender though it was: a cryptic message, scrawled upon that lone tarot
card, which read simply: 'a pat upon this now bespectacled dead head,
your boon, a bloody valentine.'
Two initials, in Crenshaw's bloodsaid the coronerstill
damp, M.M. were neatly left above the card's illustrationthe so-called
Arcanum XIII, Death.
The hunt was on.