You probably don’t remember me, but I was Larry the stinky kid in second grade. Maybe you thought my name was simply stinky kid and didn’t even know I was Larry. I hated Halloween.
I lived in a cinder block house on the highway with half-buried tires along the perimeter of our drive. We used a wood burner for heat. That’s mostly why I smelled. My sisters and I weren’t allowed to wash ourselves or our clothes much either, because the pump was usually broken and my dad thought hot water was a waste of money.
Yea, I hated Halloween. All of you kids showed up in costumes your parents bought or made and got in line for the big parade through the hallways all ready to show off. I hated you, Cindy, for your princess costume. Like you needed any more compliments in your life. Good for you. Your parents bought you a pretty costume and did your hair. Quite an accomplishment.
I got the sack. There were three of us who came to school without costumes and were forced to wear a paper bag we had to decorate. It was me and two Jehovah’s Witness kids who couldn’t convince the teacher they weren’t allowed to celebrate Satan.
Crooked eye holes and a Frankenstein face. I remember Miss Guilt standing over us and telling us what to draw and to be careful with the scissors. The way she said “good job” when I was done stung as the greatest insult ever—much worse than stinky, which I was.
I remember walking down that hall behind the superheroes and the soldiers, the monsters and the pretty girls—me with a crooked bag over my head like I was being drug to the gallows. My wet breath bounced back from the brown paper into my nose. Each step would jar the eye slits and change my view: fancy shoes to Superman emblem to fingers pointing to eyes trying not to stare.
The eyes that looked away penetrated deeper than those that opened wide with laughter.
I would have been happy to stay back in the room without a bag on my head talking to the Witnesses. But it was so important to Miss Guilt that no one be left out. She wasn’t the first or last that insisted I take part in what everyone was doing so that I could be told by those doing it that I didn’t belong.
It wasn’t my last pity gift either. Sometimes people give you something with a smile and it feels more like a robbery.
But this year, I’m wearing the bag again. I’m not bathing for a week. I might put a dead mouse in my pocket so I can offend you from a block away.
Watch for me as you trick or treat. I’ll be the one looking away from you.
This story is not found in It Happened Yestermorrow: Stories Written Two Minutes Before Waking but it could have been.