Tricks for Treats 


They say Carlton 'Skippy' Crenshaw just snapped—his 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.

Nice, huh?

And——Carlton had checked—he was in a medical textbook, top shelf, 'Rare Pathologies' stacks, Section F.

'Why n..n….n....not the freakin basement——Carlton was nothing if not bemused by their arrogant nonchalance.

You see, his congenital spinal degeneration had, somehow, separate—snapped, 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' him—from 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 treats——there would be tricks for 'treats——his 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 crudely—sliced— 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've—done.

'Skippy' won't be stuttering when they come to ask him about his particular treats, no sir. Even that little 'treat' won't apply, anymore.

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 Daily Haranguer:

'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 cemetery—likely home to the dead parents of his designated 'treaters', the blood-inscribed list now having been discovered in the half-boy's closet—discovered 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 back.

The roll of mostly unused tape was found nearby, as were the tire tracks of a vintage car—described 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 wig.

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 blood—said the coroner—still damp, M.M. were neatly left above the card's illustration—the so-called Arcanum XIII, Death.

The hunt was on.

The End