Jack-o' lanterns smile their jagged-toothed smiles from behind darkened windows as Billy hurries down the street.
He can barely contain his excitement; tonight is Halloween.
Virtually overwhelmed by anticipation, he strolls up to old Mrs. Grayson's door, his final stop for the night. He rings the doorbell, steps back, anxiously awaiting his chance to give something back to one of the so many folks who have been so good to him all of these years.
Especially last year.
The door opens, the sweet smell of something tasty cooking coming from somewhere inside the house. A smiling, silver haired lady of about eighty years of age tells Billy, ''My oh my! Aren't we scary!!''
Billy says nothing; just stands there flashing her a tight lipped smile, his beady little black eyes seeming to gleam like black pearls in the moonlight. ''What's the matter?'' she asks, ''Cat got your tongue?''
Billy shakes his head no, as if to say no, no cat has got my tongue. ''Well, you scary little monster! I'll go get you a nice, sweet , carmel apple, and I'll be right back.''
AS she walked away from the door, Billy reached into the right front pocket of his frankenstein costume, pulls out a candy bar, drops it into her mailbox.
She returns with the apple, handing it to him with a beaming smile. ''Fank oo, am,'' he says, obviously embarrassed by his speech empediment, and before she has a chance to ensue with any more social graces, he turns away and quickly walks toward home, which is only a block away.
Quietly letting himself in, he tiptoes past his mother, who is passed out on the couch as usual. The smell of soured whiskey follows him across the creaky wooden floor.
He barely makes it to his bedroom door before he hears his mother's heavy, uncordinated footsteps behind him. He barely has a chance to turn around before she drunkenly embraces him, tears streaming down her face.
''Oh, Billy! I had that dream again! I dreamed you went out trick or treating, and.....and.....oh, God! The dream.....it was so full of.........blood!''
Billy turned toward the wall, stonily ignoring her. ''I'm sorry, Billy!'' she screams, but to no avail, Billy still staring holes into the wall. ''I should have been there! But....whoever thought someone would ever tamper with a child's candy?! ''
The silence becomes a thick wall between them now, as he turns back around, the horribly disfigured mouth smiling crookedly at her. After tonight, he thinks, I'll have plenty of new friends to play, talk to.
Friends that look just like me.
He sticks his hand into his pants pocket, fingering the empty razor blade box he'd forgotten to dispose of before coming home. He glances out of the hallway window, smiling a terrible, secret smile. The man in the moon is smiling, too.
Only this time, a river of blood is gushing from his mouth.