Send in the Clown

20171012_153759-1  It was Halloween night in 1965. The weather was cool, around 50 degrees fahrenheit, but dry. The autumn leaves blew across our suburban street like tumbleweeds. I had recently turned 16, so I was a bit old for trick or treating and my father forbade me from dating until I was in college. My parents would, however, let me pass out candy while they watched horror movies on our new Curtis Mathes color television. I loved seeing the creative costumes and I would sneak a baby ruth now and again.

  It was towards the end of the trick or treating hours and I could see our neighbors had begun turning off their porch lights. While I was ready to shut it down as well, the doorbell rang. I grabbed the last of our candy in my mother’s black witch’s cauldron bowl and opened the door. There he stood, a handsome boy dressed as a prince. Our eyes met and I was smitten, but I had to make sure my father didn’t find out.

  “Megan, shut the light off, it’s late and trick or treating is over. Only people up to no good are out now”, yelled my father as I exchanged telephone numbers with the prince via candy wrappers.

  “I am, father, just passing out the rest of the candy. You know mother doesn’t like it lying around the house”, I said as I smiled at my prince and closed the door.

  “Ok, lock up and come watch scary movies with us, there’s popcorn”, said my father as he shoveled the buttery deliciousness in his face.

  Just as I went to sit down, the doorbell rang again. My father told me to leave it alone, but I was hoping to see my prince one more time and ran to the door.

  It had been only a few moments, but it felt like hours since it all started. Why did I open the door. My father warned me not to. He said that trick or treating was over and that whoever is out past midnight is probably up to no good. He said that and I didn’t listen. He was right. My innocent curiosity took a turn for the worse as the trick-or-treater shoved me out of the way and made a beeline for my parents as they watched television from our cushy denim sofa. The blade of the knife cut straight through the plush red pillow that my father held up in defense. The pillow nor my father’s greasy popcorn hand were a match as the steel blade pierced through it all and straight into my father’s neck, severing his jugular vein. Next up, it plunged through my mother’s home decor magazine as she watched the pointy end get buried between her eyes. Blood spewed all over the blue afghan blanket that my aunt Ida knitted for me on my birthday last year. He laughed hysterically and continued hacking until they were in pieces, while I stared in shock at the blood and the human salsa that used to be my parents.

  I ran as fast as I could, up and down the stairs, in and out of rooms. I couldn’t get away. I thought perhaps, he was toying with me. I tried to call for help, but the phone lines were down. Still in shock, I made a run for the front door. That’s where he finally caught me and it all went dark.

  I have no idea how long I was out. It seemed like an eternity. I’m also not sure what made me shiver more, my bruised naked body lying on the freezing cold concrete floor or the fear of what was has happened and what may yet happen. Either way, dying from hypothermia would be welcome in lieu of the unthinkable that I witnessed the monster do to my parents.The wire cable that secured my hands and feet was so tight that it cut into my skin and blood trickled to the floor as I lamented my fate.

   I could see his reflection in the broken mirror on the wall of my dimly lit basement. He was standing there staring at me in a blood soaked clown mask, laughing and holding the butcher knife to my throat. He tilted his head slightly as though he was in thought about what to do next. I closed my eyes in anticipation of the horror that I was sure was to come, but it didn’t. Seconds later I opened my eyes and he was gone.

 I tried to squirm out of the wire cable, but it was too tight. In fact I could feel my hands and feet begin to go numb. Even if I did slip out, I had no idea what I would do anyway. I thought he was probably waiting for me in the shadows, but he never came back. After a while the police came and I was eventually rescued and relatively unharmed, except for cuts and scrapes and seemingly irreparable mental damage. I spent the rest of my youth with my Aunt Ida, who lived only a few blocks away.

  Fast forward in time. It was sixteen years later. I was 32 years old, a full grown adult. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of that horrific night. I miss my parents everyday, but years of therapy, medication, and the support of loved ones had helped me cope with the atrocity. In fact, I ended up marrying that trick or treating prince from that horrific night. His name was Charles. We started dating in high school, just after that Halloween night. He hadn’t changed a bit, except for the graying hair on his temples. We had a lovely Eight year old daughter, named Claire. She was the light of our life. Her long blonde hair reminded me of myself at that age. We were happy.

  That year I had decided that it was time for me to officially move on and enjoy Halloween once again. Claire’s third grade class was going to have a party and go trick or treating, so Claire needed a costume. I loved my daughter and I refused to buy one of the cheap box costumes at the department store. I wanted my daughter to enjoy the season as much as I did, prior to the horror. We decided to make a costume together.

  “Mommy, I want to help, but I don’t know if I want to be a clown or a fairy”, said Claire as I held her hand while we climbed the attic stairs of the old house we bought on third street. It was the house Charles grew up in, about three blocks from where I grew up.

   “Sure sweetheart, I think you would make an excellent fairy. We can surprise your father, he’ll be home soon”, I said as we began going through some old trunks and boxes. We were looking for whatever we could piece together. There were some things that Charles’s parents left behind. I was hoping maybe I could piece together something, maybe some of Charles sister’s old costumes would still be around.

  “Look mommy, I like this one. It’s not a fairy, but please can I be this one?”, said Claire as she stood in front of me wearing an old bloodstained clown mask. I was in shock. It looked to be the same mask worn by the monster that took my parents 16 years ago. Immediately, the memory that I had worked so hard to repress from that night rushed into my mind. I stood paralyzed in fear.

  “Hi honey, what are you guys doing up here?”, said Charles as he entered the attic, closed the door, and tilted his head slightly as though he was in thought of what to do next.

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