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Just be sure to wipe your feet before you visit each of our StoryTime Writers. Thanks to Juneta for the sweet bedtimes stories she’s collected for our. . .
A Beautiful Night in the Neighborhood
C. Lee McKenzie
Presley set out the last plate of appetizers and checked the vat to be sure it was full. This group drank a lot.
He surveyed the room, and was about to fasten the last Happy Halloween ghost balloon to the back of a chair, when he heard a knock at the door.
The first guest.
Eagerly, he rubbed his hands together. The party was about to begin. But when he opened the door, no one stood on the porch. He looked across the street, and then left and right at the tidy row of houses with reverse floor plans. No one in sight.
At a gentle tug on his pant leg, he looked down. Three green and grinning faces with knife-sharp incisors and blunt noses stared up at him.
“Of course,” he said “Gremlins! And there are three of you this year. Lovely. Come. Come.” He ushered the short, red-eyed creatures into the living room, where they immediately found the special-sized table and chairs he’d set out just for them. The way they dived into the guacamole with abandon, he knew this party was going to be a huge success.
Presley had no sooner closed the door when the bell chimed. This time a dark-robed figure towered over him. “Death! And just look at that scythe. I’m impressed. You’ve outdone yourself this year.”
“Yes.” Death’s voice always came in rushed whispers. He glided through the door and into a corner where Presley had placed a coffin with a tall flickering candle.
Presley had a moment to admire the ambiance of the room before he heard the sound of feet dragging down the path to the house.
“Ah, the Zombies. At last.”
They never said anything, so he didn’t take it personally when they shuffled past him in silence and went straight to the vat. Two vampires came right behind them and elbowed their way to the straws Presley had provided. They dipped their straws into the juicy red beverage and the vat level dropped an inch immediately.
He loved it when his guests enjoyed what he provided.
There was only one more guest before the guest of honor. And in that moment the door flew open and a golden-haired youth stepped inside.
“Tony!” Presley went to the fridge and found two cold beers, opened them and handed Tony one. “Cheers.”
“When’s he coming?” Tony took a swig of beer and Presley checked his watch.
“In about five.” Presley sipped from the bottle, and then asked, “You’re not changed. Problem?”
Tony shook his head. He held up the bottle. “I needed this before going for it, and,” he pulled the curtain aside and peered out, “the moon’s just now right.” He drained his beer and in moments his jacket ripped up the back, his jeans popped at the side seams, and long dark hair erupted from his skin. He lowered onto all fours and howled.
“Beautiful. Simply Beautiful,” Presley said, stroking Tony’s thick fur.
Another knock at the door silenced the room. No one moved. The guest of honor was here. This was what they’d all waited for. One year. A long time between welcoming new neighbors. The excitement grew palpable. The gremlins slipped from their tiny chairs and bunched together in front of the zombies and vampires. Tony crouched, a low growl deep in his throat. Only Death remained seated on the coffin. Still. Watching. Then yawning with a sigh.
Presley folded his hands and took three ceremonial strides to the door. “Who is it?” he said, and his voice was as light as the Halloween balloons weaving slowly overhead.
“It’s your new neighbor, Raymond. You asked me to come by for a beer. It’s kind of late, but–”
“Raymond! Of course, my man. One moment.”
Presley looked over his shoulder and surveyed his guests. “Ready?” he whispered.
A hushed, expectant “Yes.” came in reply from the company.
Presley opened the door and a loud “Welcome to the neighborhood!” blared from behind him.
About midnight, the 911 caller said he’d heard a terrible scream coming from the house across the street. He’d gone outside, but everything was as it should be. Most of the houses were dark, even the one he was sure the scream had come from.
Police investigated and found the front door ajar, the house completely empty and spotless. The only sign of life was a long, coarse dog hair.
They ran the name of the renter and nothing came up, but in the data, there was another report from a year ago, and it was almost identical. Then they checked further. These very similar calls extended back to when the 911 system had been set up. And each year, a person new to a neighborhood vanished without a trace.
The following day, Raymond Miller’s brother filed a missing person’s report.
More Storytime Stories to rock you to sleep this Halloween!
J. Q. Rose