By Patricia Watson
Third Annual Spooky Fiction Contest Second Place Winner
It was a dark and stormy Halloween night .... Well not really. This is Arizona; it was actually a balmy late afternoon, but it was Halloween, and I was on my way to Paul’s house for a Halloween party.
His mom would be there, so it would be pretty tame, but, hopefully Amber Jablowski would also be there. That is why I was walking. I had pleaded with my mom to let me off a block away, because a guy can’t present as cool with his mom driving him. Unfortunately, I am only 15 and don’t have a driver’s license, and there are plenty of older guys at school with licenses who would love to take Amber out. But I digress.
Standing about 20 feet from Paul’s gate was a guy wearing the perfect costume. He looked like some of the pictures in my grandfather’s album. He wore a flowered tunic and brown corduroy pants that flared at the bottom. His slight frame looked even skinnier atop the platform shoes, and a string of beads hung around his neck. A bright orange headband held back the shoulder-length hair from his face. It was an average face, except for the piercing blue eyes that gazed longingly at Paul’s house. Those eyes reminded me of my firend’s eyes.
Maybe he was there to see Amber, too, and he probably had a license. He was an older man, possibly a senior or even in college. My Dracula costume suddenly seemed lame in comparison.
“Hey, cool costume,” I said by way of greeting. “Are you here for the party?”
A quizzical look crossed his features before he answered. “No. I used to know someone who lived here a long time ago.”
We talked for a few minutes and he told me he went to school at ASU. He had driven home for the weekend to propose to his girl, but had wrecked his ride before he got the chance. The 1962 Volkswagon bus had been his pride and joy.
“Wow! A classic,” I exclaimed.
His laugh sounded sad and wistful. “Just tell Betty that Paul sends his love.”
I turned to ask him who Betty was, but he was already walking away.
It was still early when I arrived, so I joined Paul and his mom in the kitchen, where they were putting the final touches on refreshments. I told them about the strange encounter with the young man outside. Paul’s mom stopped abruptly, and her face turned pale.
“My father died in a car wreck on a Halloween night before I was born. My mom just found out she was pregnant. She never married. He was the love of her life, and I named my son, Paul, after him. Her name was Betty.”