by Gabriel Duncan


“Trick or treat!”  He stood there, five-foot ten, with black hair and green eyes.  His smile defied his age; more than the difference in height among the group of six year olds he was standing in.  The boy was standing there, eyes twinkling brighter than his smile that lit up everything around him.

If most folks saw a sixteen year old trick or treating, they would frown upon him.  Or shoo him away.  But tonight, this wasn't a sixteen year old.  This was a five-foot ten six year old.

He stood there, with his pillow case gaping open, showing off its black and orange cavity.  Blue jeans and chaps, complete with bonafide cowboy boots.  A red hanky was tied around his neck and a starched cowboy hat lay perched upon his hair.  This had always been his favorite of costumes.  The only thing that he hadn't worn for them.  This was his most favorite time of the year.  The only time they let him go out with his friends.  But that was a chapter closed and forgotten.  Though, sometimes it was hard.

The cowboy watched eagerly as a handful of candy was placed in his bag.  He tipped his hat graciously towards the Vampira look-alike as he gave her his best, “Thanks ma'am,” and bound down the stairs three at a time; holding his hat with one hand and clinging to the loot with the other.

This highway child pranced down the street.  He walked alongside his friends.  And the next house was only four feet away.  His talk was fast and excitable.  Tigger and Dorothy stood on the sidewalk as the cowboy climbed the steps of yet another Victorian manor.  Another man sitting deathly still.  Another wax figure?  Another delighted squeal as the man came to life.  He smiled as he handed the cowboy his candy.  Another house and an even bigger grin, if such things were possible.  Tigger nodded and Dorothy smiled as the cowboy related his adventure on the porch.  It grew late and Tigger and the Cowboy parted with Dorothy to walk home.

Home was a large yellow house.  Painted by the cowboy's foster parents.  Home was a few blocks away and Tigger was only a step away and looking very orange and cuddly.  Tigger was the Cowboy's foster brother.

“Hey, Alex,” The boy called, “Help me out of this.”  His mop of brown hair fell over his ears as he took his headpiece off.

“Oh man, that was sooo fun.”  The cowboy talked excitedly as he helped his brother out of the fursuit.  “Did you have fun too, man?”

“Yeah, lots!”  The semi-naked, semi-feline boy flopped down on his bed.

The cowboy stayed in his get-up, without the hat though.  Real cowboys take off their hats when they go inside someone's house.  He laid down beside his brother and emptied his bag of candy.  They sorted through it, taking inventory, putting candies in their separate piles.

“I think she likes you, Jeff.”  The cowboy said.

Throwing a smashed Butterfinger into the trash, Jeff replied, “You think so?”

“Yeah.  She's always looking at you funny.”  The cowpoke stacked peanut M&M's on top of each other.  “You may not think I notice, but I know you like her too.”

Jeff looked at his brother.  “Oh really?”  He had an amused grin on his face.

Alex nodded.  There was a moments hesitation.  Just a split second between the squeals of laughter.  Jeff had jumped on Alex and began to tickle him.

“Hahaha.  Stop!”  Alex tried to bat away the paws that were so ferociously tickling.  “Hahaha.  Please stop!  I'm gonna piss myself!  Hahaha!”

Jeff sat up on top of Alex and brushed the tears off Alex's red face.  “You know, dude, sometimes you're too smart for your own good.”

“What do you mean?”  Alex asked confused,

“Absolutely nothing,”  Jeff got off Alex, “Let's eat some of this candy.”

And so began the Halloween feast.

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