My family didn’t have much money when I was a kid (during World War II) and candy wasn’t easy to come by. Halloween was the perfect time to collect a stash of goodies. My mom never worried about where I planned to go on my trick-or-treat trek, expecting me to be with a whole gang of kids. Usually this is what happened.
We’d start out going from door-to-door. As we ran into other kids we learned where the best treats were. Back in those days, it was the homemade cookies, candied apples and popcorn balls. We usually visited those houses more than once.
On this particular Halloween when I was around ten or eleven, my friends all tired out long before I was ready to quit–so I kept on knocking on doors by myself. I found myself in a neighborhood I didn’t know too well, about five blocks from home.
I had to climb a bunch of stairs and knocked boldly on the door. A mean looking man yanked the door open and it only took me a moment to see he was holding a rifle or shotgun. (I don’t know the difference to this day even if I do write mysteries.)
He squinted at me and said, “Do you know what I do to kids who come trick-or-treating?”
My heart was pounding so fast, I stammered out, “I don’t know.”
Of course I expected him to say, “I shoot them,” and I knew when my mom found out I was dead she’d be mad because I’d been trick-or-treating by myself.
Instead, he grinned and said, “I give them candy,” which he did.
That was enough for me. I said, “Thank you,” and high-tailed it home as fast as I could go. That was the only time I trick-or-treated by myself.