There was Death, baking a homemade pie. Actually, it was Mom making what she called her Death Pie. I had the silly Mom of course. It was really plain ole pie with whipped cream and red sprinkles on top.
Mom always dressed as The Grimm Reaper and served the neighbors her pies on every single Halloween. She took this Death theme to a whole new level with her freaky wig, realistic boney-finger gloves, and long black cloak. Her hatchet might have been fake, but it was pointy enough to trick me at first.
"Give everything your one-hundred-percent best effort," Mom said.
She dipped a thumb into the pie and licked. Mom thought no one saw. I saw. I saw everything.
She offered me a piece.
"I hate Death Pie! I'll never try it."
I had way bigger concerns. The neighborhood's Annual Halloween Costume Contest was tonight. The winner would receive a trophy filled with candy known to all the kids as the Golden Candy Trophy. I lost three attempts in my whole six years on earth. I was a vampire the first time. Then I was a swamp man.
Last year, I went as the meanest skeleton my best friend for life next door ever saw. But I got eliminated each attempt. I had to win the Golden Candy Trophy this year. It was the most important thing in my life. Only, all I had was a crummy Ninja Turtle costume.
It was my own fault. I asked Mom to get the costume for me because the movie was so ratchet. And then my Sais weren't even real. They were made of foam. There was no way I would win the contest with this lousy getup—unless I struck the right poses during the dance routines. I stood in the mirror for hours practicing my scary looks and stances. Then I did my war cries to Spike.
He didn't bat an eye. His blank stares might as well have been laughs. Then he chased his tail and ran off. I wasn't even scary to a dog, especially with this half-shell costume on. I really wanted to win all that candy and had no chance. This was quickly becoming the worst Halloween ever.
"Sweetie, the competition starts soon, and I know you want to win, so we'd better skedaddle soon. Are you ready?"
She would have won the contest had this not been a kid's only competition. I didn't even want her to touch me with those real looking Death hands.
Her palm rubbed my green turtlehead. "Frighten them dead." She smiled at me. "Show the Sais when you walk. And remember to grind your teeth and squint your eyes when you look at the judges. That's your best scary look."
It was time, finally. The walk to the park took forever. I ran to the stage and lined up right as everything started. I stood so close to the Golden Candy Trophy that I could almost touch it. Mom had a center seat, which made me more nervous.
A werewolf stood on stage next to Frankenstein's Monster. Those two could win. Even a Sponge Bob was in line, yet the only thing scary about him was his bad breath. My real challenge would be the girl in the voodoo doll costume.
She had strawberry red hair and redder spots on her creepy white outfit. Something about the way she smelled made me want to sneeze. And of course the pasty voodoo girl took her spot right next to me.
They made us dance around in a circle to ghostly music for round one. It reminded me of the first PG movie I ever saw with ghouls, which gave me nightmares for a week.
I ground my teeth like how Mom told me to do. When the song ended, they called out the final three. "Ghost Boy" was named, then "Voodoo Girl" as expected, and I waited for the third name patiently.
The Vampire Kid would be my choice. I wasn't scared of him or anything, but he had these huge dark eyes, white fangs, and long claws. Even Mom jumped in her seat when he "Hissed!"
For some reason, the Vampire Kid ran off crying all of the sudden.
Then one of the judges said, "And the Ninja Turtle."
And in a heartbeat there were three. Ghost Boy, who for some reason had an eye patch, a hook for a left hand, and a stick leg, was one. I suppose he was a ghost pirate. There was Voodoo Girl with a weird raggedy doll, then me with my foam Sais.
I'd bet all my Halloween candy that Voodoo Girl didn't really have striped eyes. And she was the tallest of all the kids in the whole entire neighborhood. Bet she was old enough to buy her own outfit.
When the song ended, Ghost Boy fell and was disqualified.
It was down to the last round between Voodoo Girl and me.
We had a dance off. My song was "Thriller."
I knew this one. Mom showed it to me a long time ago during one of her silly antics. She grinned at me from her center seat and I remembered her saying, "Give everything your one-hundred-percent best effort."
And as soon as the man in the intro stopped babbling, I did my zombie dance, just like Mom did when I saw her. The judges oohed and aahed over my mad skills.
When it was Voodoo Girl's turn, and the song "Mickey You're So Fine" played, she threw her doll to the ground and said, "You win."
Even when I held the Golden Candy Trophy I couldn't believe this was real. In all my years I never thought it would happen. I had won thanks to something my silly mom had shown me. She held my hand and helped me carry the trophy.
"Mom. When we get home, can I try your Death Pie?"
BIO: BAM graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in English, and has published many forms of writing. Recently, he was a finalist in the WLT Manuscript Competition. His poem "Evolution" is viewable within Antiphon’s web magazine and his short story "Poisoned Heart" can be found in Ishaan Literary Review. For more information, like his Facebook page