Trick Or Treat
A Halloween Story
By Bart Vogelzang

Hesitantly Peter approached the dark house. He knew that he was too old to be trick’r’treating, but being very young looking for 13, and having on a disguising costume, made him think he just might get away with it. It’s not that he really wanted any candy anyway though. This was going to be the only house he would approach this Halloween night. His real reason for coming to this particular house was much different than the other kids’.

Just about every one of his schoolmates were out somewhere else, getting into God knows what kind of trouble. But that wasn’t Peter’s problem. His problem was having no friends. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he wasn’t likely to ever get any either. Not that he wouldn’t love to have one, even if it was a girl, but his feelings for guys pretty much excluded this hope. Every time he was near a good-looking guy, hell, ANY guy, he felt a charge of excitement. Sometimes that would lead to an embarrassing but thrilling stirring down below, but most often it was just a feeling of being on top of the world. Sadly though, he’d seen some of the reactions of guys at his school when they found out some guy was found to be gay. Teasing was the least of the problems they created.

Despite an active school policy against bullying, strange accidents seemed to befall those labeled as queer. Accidental bumps in the hallways, sticky gum stuck on the lock in their lockers, loud comments that made it look as if they had done something wrong, when they hadn’t, even false accusations of drugs or guns in their lockers would haunt them throughout their days at school. It was not something Peter relished, and he made all efforts to hide his orientation. But sometimes, like on Halloween, he thought had the chance to act without too much worry about repercussions. Tonight he would be able to get close to Bax, and maybe, if he was lucky, even touch his hand as he was handed some candy.

Baxter, who hated his name and insisted that everyone, even teachers, use “Bax”, was a gorgeous hunk of male. His every movement was poetry. His profile should be used in fashion magazines. His smiles could light up your life, and that’s if you were only in the same room, facing the other way. Direct smile could completely blow your mind. Even when correcting someone in the use of his name, he did it so well that you felt if you said “Bax” you were destined to be his friend for life. Everyone wanted a piece of the wonder that was Baxter, and Peter more than most.

For two months now, since starting at this school, Peter had wanted to get closer to Bax, but his fear had kept him away. Tonight though, he knew that Bax had to be at home, handing out candy, since his mother was going to be at school, working to support the two of them. He had noticed Bax several times now; talking surreptitiously to a woman at school, just after everyone else had left for home. The lady would straighten out Bax’ hair, much to his obvious irritation, and once managed to kiss him when he left. She was the janitor, pushing a huge bin for waste paper, and often wielding one of those strange dust mops that seem designed to trip anyone who approached within 6 feet. Peter had never been spotted though, as the whole point was to avoid being seen by anyone. Peter had a classic case of Asperger’s Syndrome, and he couldn’t manage to string two social words together, much less actually hold a conversation. Sure, he knew all the answers in class, but if asked to give an answer, he completely froze up, saliva building in his throat while trying; finally choking him, to cough till it was clear again. While this was a cause for some serious teasing, it didn’t translate into any overt physical abuse. Being outed would be another matter altogether.

Onto the porch and up to the door he went, where he became a mass of confused despair. How could he shout out “Trick or Treat” and get Bax to the door? Hell, Bax might even recognize his pitiful gurgling choke from school. He couldn’t utter a sound, except that damned choking cough. There was no point in even trying. Even worse, there weren’t any other kids nearby who might call out and give him the benefit of their voices. Should he ring the bell? No, that wouldn’t work because this was one of those old buildings that didn’t even have a bell. How about knocking on the door? Yes, maybe that would work. He slowly approached the door, raised his hand to knock, when the door opened, seemingly by itself. Beyond was an even deeper abyss of blackness than the dark porch, so far from the nearest streetlight. Peter froze, completely paralyzed in fear, seeing nobody in the blackness in front of him.

Slowly he became aware of a very dim light from straight ahead. It was terribly dim, looking very much like one of those electro-luminescent nightlights that has pretty much died. You just know it’s supposed to give more light, but you just cannot throw it away so it gets dimmer each passing week. However, that thought was far from the forefront of his mind, which was taken up thinking about how the door could open by itself. Suddenly, with a mind-numbing shriek, a huge black ‘thing’ jumped towards him. Peter, already at the peak of his stress limit, did the only thing he could, and collapsed.

The first thing Peter noticed was that there seemed to be light everywhere. Hell, his damned eyes had been getting used to the dark, and now this light was painful to him. There were flashing red and white lights, as well as red and blue lights strobing onto all the walls. Dark silhouettes of figures raced towards him, and he heard sirens wailing, and a loud sobbing right next to him. It was coming from Bax, dressed in a huge black cape, one black glove, and with a black mask dangling by what looked to be a black elastic string around his neck. His tears were dripping onto Peter’s face, as Bax held Peter close, hugging him in a tight grip, and clutching his hand in a warm loving touch of humanity, despite efforts of the now nearby silhouettes to disengage his clutch.

“Oh my God. I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t! Bax screamed at the paramedics and police, clutching Peter even harder. “It was just a Halloween joke.” Everyone does that. It’s part of what you do. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone! I didn’t!”

“It’s okay Bax. It’s okay. I forgive you. I don’t mind, really. It’s okay. I know it was only a joke.” Peter whispered, for once able to actually speak coherently. “Just hold me some more though. It feels so good. I’ve dreamed of a hug from you for months.”

“Okay kid”, one of the shapes said, touching Baxter’s head gently, “I don’t know your name, but you did the right thing calling 9-1-1 right away. But, you have to let the paramedics deal with him now. Let the boy go, while we ask you some questions about what happened tonight. Okay? Can you let him go and get up?”

Slowly Baxter let loose of Peter, lifting his head carefully from his lap and lowering it gently onto the floor as he worked his way to his feet. Peter then felt himself lifted up but was surprised when he couldn’t see anyone holding him. He was lifted higher and higher, while his feeling of being loved grew ever stronger. Below him he could see Bax talking to the officers, as the paramedics lifted his body, now covered with a sheet, into the ambulance, its lights and siren no longer needed.

© 2006 Bart Vogelzang All Rights Reserved