Prequel: Halloween (7 of 7)

Previous: Prequel: Halloween (6 of 7)

     Pool-foamers caught: 0. Popcorn balls procured: 1. Licorice-sassafras-bark root-horrible-tongue numbing lollipops enjoyed by Gomery: 1. Number of small, costumed candy-donating good-deeders: 12. Orange sequins covering every inch of Fair Finley's Lady in Sequins gown: 2,000, give or take. A pretty satisfying Halloween night with a resolution I didn't want but now kind of like: 1.
    “Say, Fair Finley,” I started. “When are we going to get an invitation to The Wilfair’s masquerade? I’d buy a ticket but I don’t have that sort of cash. I saw your billboard. One billion dollars is a lot to charge for one party.”
     “You misread the ad. Tickets to The Wilfair Halloween Ball are only a million dollars,” she corrected. “But I’m sure I can get you in for a little less.”
     “Let’s gooooooooo.” The tiny trick-or-treating fairy had returned to pull on our neighbor’s sparkly gown.
     Fair smoothed her young charge's wings, then apple-cheeked in our direction. “Bye now. Um. Ummmm. I'm sorry, you are...” The heiress frowned, her forehead crinkling.
     “Monty,” I pointed at myself. “Gomery.” I pointed at my cousin.
     “Right! How embarrassing. You look exactly like the two guys who’ve lived next door to me forever. Awesome costumes. You could practically be them.” She witched her face and cackled a farewell. A royal, frozen-palm wave followed. The giddy group soon slipped around the corner and into the ever-gloamier LA night.
     “What just happened?” I asked as we turned for home.
     “We got bad-candied and good-neighbored,” explained my cousin.
     “That wave, though. SO fake. If only she’d fake down and, and. Wear that dress more.”
     “I agree.”
     “That she’s fake?”
     “Monty, how is someone who cackles at will and says ‘Mary Shelley, holler’ and gets a bunch of children to give up their worst pieces of candy not being authentically herself? In what way?”
     “Fair point.”
     “And she stepped out of her shoes, in order to run.” Gomery voice held a note of marvel and bewilderment. “I’m not sure I ever considered her someone who’d so readily take her runner’s mark when the moment called for it. But I will now.”
     “Still. She has to drop the swimming pool issue.”
     “That’s got to come to some sort of head, soon,” Gomery agreed. “But you, too. Move past it.” We turned back onto Fairfax Avenue and strolled south. The tavern was livelier than before, as evidenced by a long-tailed sparkle dragon and a half-and-half Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sharing a pint on the curb.
     “You think I’m not moving past the pool?” I acted twice as indignant as I felt.
     “The next time you try and irritate me – don’t act shocked, I know what you’re up to – remember the much larger thing you yourself won’t move past. And consider why the motel and its pool are so damn important to you, even as they’re the incredibly heavy lodestone our family wears each day. Wears in the proverbial deep end of our lives.”
     “Because the Fairwil and the pool are ours, not theirs. Ours.”
     “I’m sick of it, frankly. This old argument.”
     “You’re sick of everything lately, so add it to the list,” I offered.
     “Not so much, now,” he said. “Getting bad-candied has a way of turning a day around.” He smoothed his tie. “I can’t believe I’m in my 21st year on this planet and I’m still talking about that pool. The pool, the pool, the pool, every single day the pool.”
     “WHAT. We’re in our 21st year? Not our 20th?”
     “We’re 20 now, so it's our 21st year.”
     I calculated in my head. “Huh. You’re RIGHT! Can’t argue with the gifted math student.”
     “Oh, I'm gifted in several areas,” said my cousin. “Random world knowledge, for one. Did you know, for example, that pumpkins in Australia are harder than they are here? Very difficult to carve.” He gestured at a lit gourd sitting in a shop window.
     “Show off. Math's still your stronger suit. Too bad Fair Finley didn’t give you a math candy, like me and my movie treat.”
     “What in the hell is ‘math candy’?” Gomery asked, half-testy, half-laughing.
     Ignoring him, I continued. “And since you're so big-brained at math, you can figure out how we can keep the motel without making any money on it. Is there a special algebra formula for that problem?”
     Ignoring me, he reached down and picked up an errant orange sequin. “Let’s get home and see if the pool got properly foamed in our absence. Plus, I want a bath.”      

      A firm, cousin-like door knock woke me the following morning
      “Monty. You have a present. Get up.”
     “Whaaa?” I rolled onto an empty piece of gooey cellophane, a wrapper that had held a delicious popcorn ball only hours before.
      I stood, stretched, then stepped outside in my thinnest boxers, forgetting that it was now November and the mornings were on the goosebump-making side. The motel's sole guests walked by just as I opened my door, giving me a strange once-over. “Hey, how goes it?” I waved, only barely concerned they were basically viewing me in the all-together.
     But I forgot that and the nippy temperature when I saw the gift my cousin meant. An industrial cardboard carton blocked my door, or nearly. It was large and brown and a washing machine illustration appeared on the top.
     Stranger still, though, were the handful of truly wretched Gomery-approved licorice lollipops that were taped to the sides, here and there. 
     I bent on one knee to get a closer look. “One thousand super-strength industrial detergent cubes,” I read aloud. “Cleans every stain with power zapping action.”
     “And foams every swimming pool,” Gomery added. “It doesn’t actually say that, on the box. Maybe it should, in the fine print.”
     “Wow. A)? She completely stole this from The Wilfair’s laundry room.”
     “Completely,” my cousin confirmed.
     “And b)? How’d she get it here? It weighs slightly less than that blasted Ferris wheel. I'm sure I couldn't lift it. Her brothers help?”
     “No upper body strength.”
     “Hmm. Power zapping action.” I beamed. “I do believe, my good lad, that there was an heiress huffing and puffing her heart out out here while we slept. Remind me never to get into a wrestling match with the baroness of industry next door, because she'll clearly kick my can.”
     “So, are you dumping them? Bet she’s watching.” Gomery pointed at the hotel’s third floor.
     “A foamed pool is A LOT of clean-up. Bubbles freaking everywhere. You know, I kind of want to use these to do my own laundry, for the next, uh, half century? Still, it’s a nice gift for a fakey fake person to give. I accept her gesture and these bajillion purple power zapping action detergent cubes.”
    “A fakey fake person who hollers ‘Mary Shelley’ and steps out of high heels to run,” Gomery added. “Plus, there’s this.”
    He pulled something off the opposite side of the carton. It was fancy embossed intimidating annoying Wilfair stationery, complete with raised letterhead. But far more interesting than the expensive piece of paper was the hand-penned note found just below the letterhead. It was a missive written in perfect cursive, so perfect that even the question mark boasted a curlicue flourish at its curved top.
     Are you the flies or are you the spider?
     Sincerely, The Window
      Gomery smiled, peeled a lollipop off, unwrapped it, and stuck it in his mouth.
      There was nothing else to do but follow sweet suit. The lollipop was absolutely awful, nearly inedible, but everything else could qualify, on some level, as Halloween magic.

cr: chow


Wilfair Book said...

Cheers to Melbourne on My Mind, by the by, for cluing me into the incredible hardness of Australian pumpkins.

And thanks for reading, everyone!

bess said...

I've been waiting to read them all at once! Because I simultaneously have lots of patience and none at all. Can't wait to dig into this tonight - perhaps with a side of illicit Halloween candy from the trick or treaters' bowl.

Wilfair Book said...

Bess: Not going to tell you not to read it tonight, buuuuuut... If you waited a day or so, there might be an easier way to do it. Shhhh.

(This comment may now self-destruct in a shower of glitter.)

P.S. I 100% approve of pinching treats from the trick or treaters' bowl ahead of the holiday.

Unknown said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! This was magical. And I *may* have grinned like a lunatic over the pumpkin comment.

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