A guest post by Danielle Hontz
Halloween eve was ripe with mischief as Shane sat on the porch with Dave and Alicia, trading tales of Halloweens past.
Dave sighed. “I suppose we’ll have to endure another equally humiliating prank from you this year. So tell me, what’ll it be: switch our Halloween candy with rocks? Order an empty casket to our house?”
Shane smirked. “Since you ask, the prank I’m planning this year is so big, I’m going to need your help to pull it off. Do you remember the witch of the Barrington Cemetery?”
Dave shrugged. “Of course, it’s something they tell kids to keep them out of trouble.”
Shane raised an eyebrow dramatically. “Halloween night, twenty five years ago, a group of teens congregated around Barrington Cemetery.”
Dave rolled his eyes.
“A bunch of kids wanted to drink and carry on away from the watchful eyes of their parents. Ever the cautious community, their parents appointed retired policemen and volunteers from the neighborhood watch to drive by every few hours and make sure everyone made it home safely. The police log is uneventful until the clock strikes midnight.”
“Three girls wanted to leave, and flagged down an old woman in a white minivan that looked to be a part of the neighborhood watch. Only their clothes were found, days later, torn and bloodied.”
They sat silently in the dark.
Alicia barked with laughter. “I'm sorry, that's this town’s idea of a ghost story? Evil soccer mom escapes with teen girls?”
Dave shrugged.“This is a small town and abduction was a big deal. Shane and I weren’t allowed to go to the cemetery as kids.”
Alicia nodded. “So what’s the plan, bring the witch back? I drive the PTA carpool and I can probably find a white van I can borrow.”
Shane pressed on. “If Alicia arranged it with the teenagers, they aren’t really being abducted. It’ll just scare everyone and it’ll all be funny in the morning. No harm, no foul.”
“These pranks are not that harmless. Some people hold a grudge” Dave warned. He reluctantly agreed to go along with the plan.
Later that night, Dave spoke in hushed tones.
“This is going to turn into a joke on me again, just like it does every year.”
Alicia rested her chin on her husband’s shoulder, grinning. “This year, we’re going to be smarter. We’re going to have the upper hand.”
Halloween evening, Shane parked on the hill overlooking Barrington Cemetery as planned. While he waited, he methodically shredded Alicia’s coats he’d pinched from their house while chuckling to himself. He imagined the look on his brother’s face when he found his wife's coat, saturated with blood.
The streetlights in the park were less than reliable, and he kept looking for Alicia in the white van. The night was still, punctuated by the sounds of teenage revelry.
Shane slunk to the nearest clump of bushes and hid the bloodied coat, scuffing the dirt to replicate a struggle.He paused abruptly, hearing a crunch nearby.
Wheeling around, he saw a shadow pass quickly in front of the headlights of his car.
“Alicia” he called in a hoarse whisper. The shadow hunched behind the wheel well. Shane recognized his sister in law, her face dirty and bloodied. He grinned.
“Fantastic makeup” he chuckled, “but where is the car?”
As he grew closer, he noticed Alicia’s head lolled back in against the fender, the ridges in her throat flapping open to the night air.
Shane cursed, panicked. He called Dave. No response. He called Alicia’s phone, which rang unanswered in her pocket. Conflicted, he scooped his sister in law’s body and tossed her in the back seat of his car, racing off to the hospital.
Brakes screaming up to the emergency lane, Shane breathed a sigh of relief as he spotted a waiting stretcher and a police officer. Alicia’s body was wheeled off into the depths of the hospital, but he was left to the scrutiny of the officer’s stern gaze. The officer led him to a small room just inside the hospital.
“I had nothing to do with this” Shane said, his stomach churning. “I was supposed to meet her in the park for a prank, but she was dead when I got there.”
“A park ranger located of a bloody coat, belonging to the victim. We’re testing it for DNA to identify her attacker” the officer said.
Shane winced. This wasn't getting any better. The officer nodded in the direction of a two-way mirror. Shane whirled around, imagining a judge pronouncing his sentence. He broke down.
“The coat is me. I planned a prank on my brother, just like I do every year, but I didn’t expect this. You gotta believe me.”
The officer’s eyes narrowed. “I recognize your name from a lot of complaints, police reports. Disturbing the peace, false 911 calls from Halloweens before. The people of this town would be glad to put you away for the slightest reason.”
Behind the two way mirror, Dave handed his wife a towel. Alicia wiped down her face, removing her makeup. The pair exchanged a high five.
Danielle Hontz is a lover of words and continually obsesses over their arrangement. She is most likely to mix a colloquial phrase with a literarily informed vocabulary.
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