Remember that creepy house in your old neighborhood?  The one you avoided every day, not just Halloween.  Something about the place just scared the crap out of you.

The one in my neighborhood had a crazy lady named Rosie living there.  She was thin, boney, and had scraggly mouse-brown hair.  I never went near her house, but occasionally I saw her dancing around her front yard in pink pajamas and bath robe; I never heard any music.

When I was in 6th grade, at the top of the Trick-or-Treater’s heap and I could do the scarring and not be scared, my buddy and I worked up the courage to “hit” Rosie’s house on Halloween.  When we reached her house, we noticed the jeers, screams of laughter, and toddler’s “Twick or Tweet” were suddenly gone, it was eerily quiet, and we were all alone on Rosie’s sidewalk.  There was nobody within 2 blocks of that creepy house.

We teased each other with false bravado, knowing we couldn’t face each other if we chickened out now.  Besides, we both wanted to see what Rosie gave out at Halloween.  So, we took one wobbly step after another and finally reached her porch.  I rang the doorbell before we lost our courage.  So far, so good.  Visions of Rosie sharpening an axe made me think, “Hmmm, now I know what ‘Curiosity killed the cat’ means.”

The door flew open and Rosie stood there in her pink bathrobe and a smile. I’ll never forget her face.  She had no teeth, making the deep wrinkles in her long face open and close when she clapped her gums.  Her eyes were sharp and hard, like an eagle, like she’d never smiled in her whole life.  Her nose was long and narrow, slightly hooked at the end.  But, the most prominent feature was a large mole on her chin with a thick gray hair growing out of it.  I smiled to put her at ease, hoping she wouldn’t eat me … I had a mask on, and all she could see was the fear in my bulging eyes.

My paralyzed buddy and I opened our half-full pillow cases and tried to say, “Trick or Treat”, but the word “trick” got stuck in our throat.  (We’re only here for treats, honest.) Veins popped out the back of her slender hands as she reached for us; boney fingers with long cracked yellow nails dropped something heavy into our bags.  In a raspy voice she said, “Here you go, boys”.  Our voices cracked when we thanked her.  Not waiting to hear her cackle, we turned and ran for two blocks before we stopped to see what she gave us: a plain white popcorn ball, made with Karo syrup, no coloring and not even wrapped, just sitting in the bottom of our bag sticking to the Tootsie Rolls, Milk Duds and Dots.

We chucked those popcorn balls as far as we could and sat down on the curb to inspect the rest of our haul.  Breathing a sigh of relief, we felt good about conquering our fear, and vowed to never call on Rosie again.

Thought for the Day: Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.                                                                                                              Robert Louis Stevenson

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