Aloysius Kildare was not easily frightened, but he had to admit that this particular jack-o-lantern gave him shivers. Usually the carved pumpkins in his small Oxford neighborhood were friendly or silly so as not to frighten the smaller children. This one, its brilliant golden yellow glow in the dusk with its well-carved sinister eyes and fanged smile, was like something out of a waking nightmare. He couldn’t let Kelly see it. Straightening his 13-year-old shoulders, he gripped his younger brother’s hand the tighter and pulled him across the street to a friendlier-looking house. Kelly, of course, resisted. “I want to go there!” he cried, pointing towards the house with its single pumpkin. He was five, and not afraid of anything.
“No,” Aloysius said, “they never hand out good treats.”
“Oh.” Kelly blinked up at his older brother. “I want the good treats.”
“Then come over here, that’s what I’m trying to tell you.”
Without further urging, Kelly ran up the steps to the house before them, his oversized brown monk’s robe tripping his little feet. He knocked politely on the door, the way Aloysius had taught him and when the smiling face of the homeowner appeared, he said in his sweetest voice, “Trick or Treat?”
The smiling face had clearly had a little too much ginger beer that evening and delivered a chuckle. “Howsabouta trick?”
To Aloysius’ surprise, Kelly reached into the sleeves of his monk’s robe and pulled out a small jelly jar. He couldn’t see what the younger boy was doing, but that jar had held crickets and a good-sized lizard earlier that day. This would probably end in tears.
“I named my lizard ‘Trick’,” Kelly announced proudly. “Just so if anybody asked for him, I could give him to them. I caught him today and fed him some big fat crickets!”
Behind the homeowner, the lady of the house appeared to pull him away from the door and hand out a fresh orange to the little monk. Just as she did so, Kelly pulled ‘Trick’ the lizard from the jar and attempted to hand him to the tipsy gentleman. Unfortunately, the lady saw the lizard first. Her yelp of surprise startled Kelly so that he dropped ‘Trick’ (who scuttled off the porch into the landscaped yard) and as he realized his beloved pet’s disappearance, brought on a quivering lip and tears.
Aloysius chose that moment to intervene. Stepping up to the door, he apologized to the startled lady who was beginning to go red in the face. “Come on, Kells, we have to go.” The woman redeemed herself by handing Aloysius the orange and shutting the door quickly, effectively muffling the peals of laughter from her tipsy husband.
“I don’t want it,” Kelly sniffled as Aloysius handed him the orange. “You can have it.”
“Well hurry,” Aloysius returned, guiding him towards the next house, “Mom wants us home sooner rather than later.” He stuck one thumb through the fragrant skin of the orange and began peeling it.