By John Affleck
It’s about this time my criminal career starts. I’m 11. It’s an October like any other — the snow hasn’t stuck yet. But Halloween is different this year. When we were little kids, it was all treats and costumes. Now, the way the cool kids talk about it at school and Pop Warner practice, Halloween is all about tricks, about messing with people. The guys boast about things I never heard of before. How they ambushed cute girls last year and hit them with pillowcases stuffed with flour, then went around the neighborhood and soaped windows and stole all the candy from that short kid with long hair and brown wingtips in the third grade, swiping all the loot from his buddies while they were at it. It’s all kind of scary and thrilling to hear them tell it, like riding on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the State Fair. But it’s also a little depressing because, like anything around here, I’m the last to know. Why would anyone tell me?
No two ways about it, I gotta catch up. I’m done feeling small and stupid. This Halloween, I decide, is gonna be different.
The plan comes together in a matter of days. I can’t take on a group, seeing as I have no friends so have to trick-or-treat by myself. That leaves egging or soaping, both of which sound kind of dumb. But then I hit on it. I won’t just soap a window. I will write something in soap on a window — something so out there, so dirty, that it will out-shock all those friggin’ jerks in our starting backfield. I will write F-U-C-K. And not only that. I will write F-U-C-K Y-O-U.
Next comes the costume. To start with, I think “ghost” because I want to be like a ghost on my mission — invisible. But my father says he doesn’t want me running around in white robes and a pointy white hat. “People are going to think you’re either the pope or the Klan,” he says. So I go the other way and become an executioner. Black pants, black turtleneck, black gloves, black ski mask. Every night, I go through our waffle-grid suburban neighborhood in my mind. Thinking about likely targets, about dogs. About kids and families I don’t like.
The night arrives and out I go, trick-or-treating with a family-size bar of Ivory soap in my bag. Three hours of roaming around, an all-time record, all over the neighborhood. I get more candy than ever, but I don’t even care…