Friday, November 11, 2016
MONDAY THE 31ST
MONDAY THE 31ST
By Daniel Skye
Ms. Godfrey glared out her living room window. Katie Fuller, a cigarette pursed between her lips, was standing on the corner of the block, holding Faith by his leash. Faith was a blue nose Pitbull who was ten times friendlier than he looked. Katie loved trotting down the block with Faith at her side. Nobody ever dared to look at her cross eyed. Nobody except Ms. Godfrey.
Katie caught her staring, and Godfrey couldn’t even fake a smile out of courtesy. Esther Godfrey rarely smiled, and the fact that Katie lived a few houses down wasn’t going to change that.
Godfrey wouldn’t even open the door for the trick-or-treaters who rang the bell. She just gave them that death stare of hers until they took the hint and left.
As Katie wandered past Esther Godfrey’s disapproving gaze, she flicked her cigarette into a storm drain and dug into her purse. Wrapping Faith’s leash tightly around her left arm, she squirted sanitizer into her hands and rubbed it into her skin.
Maggie Fuller had no clue that her daughter smoked. Katie did her best to hide it from her. She never smoked upstairs in her room, never smoked in the backyard. She’d sneak cigarettes before and after class. And whenever Faith had to go for a walk, Katie was the first to volunteer.
She kept chewing gum, hand sanitizer, and perfume in her bag at all times for when she needed to mask the smell. Katie tried to be considerate, tried to make life easier for her mother. She knew she wasn’t the easiest seventeen-year-old to deal with. And she knew being a single parent of two teenage girls was no walk in the park.
Ever since her husband walked out on them, Maggie worked fulltime as a nurse to provide for her daughters. All Jeffrey left behind were his clothes, his record collection (which Maggie promptly sold to help pay the bills), and a .35 automatic Smith and Wesson.
Maggie always kept the front door locked. Ravensville was a relatively safe community. But she still took precautions. You can’t be too careful, especially on Halloween.
Katie didn’t bother knocking, she had her own key. Inside, she unhooked Faith’s leash and watcher him scamper off into the kitchen. Then she kicked off her shoes, took her jacket off, made herself comfortable.
Megan was on the couch with a bowl of popcorn resting in her lap. It wasn’t even dark yet, but she was already in her pajamas.
Katie and Megan were twins, but not the identical kind. Megan had tan skin and shoulder-length platinum blonde hair. She was slim and athletic. Katie had dark hair and a light complexion. She was also a bit of a tomboy. She wore baggy pants and long sleeve shirts to conceal her figure. She wasn’t going to give any creeps the opportunity to gawk at her.
Not even their personalities were identical. Megan was a pacifist. She opposed violence, while Katie solved most of her problems with violence. She had been suspended twice from school. Once for cursing out her math teacher. And once for breaking another girl’s nose.
The girl was a known bully, and Katie hadn’t started the fight. She just finished it. Multiple students saw the events transpire and spoke out on Katie’s behalf, saying she acted in self-defense. It’s the only reason she hadn’t been expelled.
Katie helped herself to a handful of Megan’s popcorn and sat down next to her. Megan was watching the Halloween marathon of AMC, and kept squirming or covering her eyes during the gory parts.
Megan’s phone buzzed and she checked it, then put it aside on the table.
“Who’s that?” Katie inquired.
“Stephen Doyle. He’s stuck babysitting his little brother. He keeps texting me, asking me to come over and watch Netflix with him.”
“He’s such a pervert. Don’t go anywhere near that creeper.”
“Who are you talking about?” Maggie Fuller asked, poking her head in the door.
Katie giggled. “It’s Stephen Doyle. He keeps texting Megan to come over for some Netflix and chill.”
Maggie shrugged. “Is that what you kids are calling it nowadays? Back in my day, we didn’t sugarcoat it. We just called it sex.”
The doorbell rang and Maggie said, “Don’t get up. I’ve got it.”
She opened the door to a cowboy, a princess, and Spiderman. “Trick or treat!” they shouted as Maggie dropped Kit Kat bars into their bags and wished them a happy Halloween.
“Those kids were so adorable,” Maggie remarked. “I remember when you girls used to dress up. Megan, you were a princess three years in a row. Katie, you always wanted to go as horror movie characters…”
“I remember that,” Katie smirked at the recollection. “Remember when I went as Carrie and I wore that homemade prom dress covered in fake blood? Ms. Godfrey loved that one.”
The doorbell rang again and Maggie made an exaggerated groan. “Well, I’m certainly getting my exercise tonight.”
She walked back to the door and found a zombie standing on her porch. It was a tall, stocky man with a very convincing makeup job. His skin looked pallid and lacked any natural color. The side of his neck appeared to be ripped open, a flap of skin hanging from the side by a virtual thread. His white cotton shirt was splattered with blood. But Maggie assumed she was staring at latex and corn syrup, cheap Hollywood movie tricks.
“Aren’t you a little too old to be trick-or-treating?” Maggie quipped.
A low-pitched growl emanated from his body.
“Method actor, huh? Hey girls, come take a look at this.”
Megan was the first to get up. Katie followed behind her. “Whoa, sweet makeup job,” Megan said, snapping a picture with her phone.
“That doesn’t look like makeup to me,” Katie whispered, slowly backing away from the door.
“You have a name, buddy?” Maggie asked. “I normally don’t give out candy to adults. Just the kids.”
The man lunged at her, sinking his teeth into her left wrist. Maggie yelped. Megan called for Faith, but Maggie had fed him and put him out back so he wouldn’t scare the trick-or-treaters.
The man–if he was still a man–was forcing his way into the house, pushing Maggie down to the floor. She screamed and thrashed and kicked under his weight, but couldn’t free herself.
Megan approached with caution, but the man lifted his head and snarled in her direction. Megan ran to the couch, grabbed her phone, looked around the room for Katie. But Katie was nowhere in sight.
“Katie!” her sister cried, frantically fumbling with her phone, trying to dial 911. “Help!” Katie returned seconds later, practically flying down the staircase her dad’s .35 Smith and Wesson in hand.
Maggie saw the gun, saw Katie’s finger wrapped around the trigger. She didn’t even have time to react. The bullet propelled from the barrel and tore through the man’s chest. He fell off of Maggie, landing on his side, clutching at the wound.
“Oh my God!” Maggie screamed. “What have you done!?”
“I saved our lives,” Katie said. “That thing bit you, it was attacking you.”
“It was just a prank! This is Bob, my co-worker! Oh my God, what did you do!?”
The gun slipped from Katie’s hands as she stood aghast, unable to speak. Megan had dropped her phone, cracking the screen in the process. She had rushed to her mother’s aid, helping her to her feet. Maggie’s big brown eyes were welling up with tears.
Megan inspected the “bite” on her mother’s wrist and saw the man hadn’t even left a mark. It was all part of the joke. Just a harmless prank that had ended in senseless tragedy.
“Bob, can you hear me?” Maggie asked, her voice quivering as she tried to hold back the tears.
Bob tried to speak, but he was bleeding internally. The words were dull, muted, inaudible.
The shot had echoed through the neighborhood. Ms. Godfrey heard it down the block and didn’t waste any time calling the police. The sirens emanated in the distance, rapidly approaching.
“It was an accident,” Katie said, her voice failing to rise above a whisper.
“How are we going to explain this to the police?” Megan asked, her eyes red and watery. Katie wasn’t just her sister. Katie was her best friend. Her rock. She supported and protected her. And without Jeffrey, this family needed Katie now more than ever.
“Bob,” Maggie called, dropping down to one knee. “Bob, can you hear me?” She checked his pulse, but couldn’t get a beat. His pupils were fixed and dilated.
“Is he…” Katie started, but trailed off.
“He’s dead,” her mother said with no uncertainty.
“Mom, how many people knew about this?” Megan asked.
“Just Bob and I. I only wanted to give you girls a little scare. That’s all. I never meant for anyone to get hurt.”
“But someone did get hurt, mom. And now we need to deal with it. And Bob’s not around to tell his side of the story. That leaves us. As far as I’m concerned, this man attacked you. And Katie did the only thing she could think of to protect you.”
“I work with this man,” Maggie screamed.
“Can you even tell who he is with all that makeup and fake blood on him? When the cops find out you work together, they’ll probably think he’s some obsessed co-worker, a crazy stalker who took things too far.”
This was a totally different side of Megan. A side her mother had never seen before. A side that frightened her. It frightened Katie, too. Megan; the sweet and gentle pacifist. The girl who couldn’t even watch a horror film without covering her eyes.
She wasn’t think rationally. All her brain could process was that the truth meant Katie going to prison for possibly the rest of her life. And the lie meant that Katie would probably get off with a slap on the wrist. And Maggie, through her own guilt and sorrow, could see her daughter was right.
The front door was wide open and Katie could see the flashing red and blue lights outside their house. The cops didn’t wait for an invitation. Two officers came in, their hands posed on their holsters, ready for anything.
“Everybody okay?” one officer shouted. “One of the neighbors reported gunshots.”
“Oh, thank God you’re here, officers,” Maggie cried. The officers saw Bob on the floor, saw the .35 Smith and Wesson at Katie’s feet. “This man attacked me,” Maggie continued. “He came to the front door. I thought he was a trick-or-treater. He forced his way in and threw me down and pinned me to the floor. I don’t know what he was planning to do to me. Katie, my daughter, she ran upstairs and got my husband’s gun. She…she shot him. She was scared and she was just trying to protect me.”
One of the officers looked over at Katie. “Is this what happened?” the officer asked.
“Yes,” Katie exhaled. “That’s exactly what happened.”