By Jesse E. Gandee
For Halloween this year I was blessed with a painful chest cold. My neighbor, Rosetta, brought over a bowl of homemade minestrone soup. My wife and Rosetta seem to be in the midst of a war of gratitude. She brings me soup and my wife will take over some brownies tomorrow. I expect some cannolis soon. My wife is losing the battle and running out of recipes. I have gained so much since moving to this neighborhood: cholesterol count, waist line, and blood pressure.
We need to bake some more brownies for Joyce. She lives behind our home and is all alone, now that Gary has passed on to his reward. Joyce is having a hard time maintaining her weight and her doctor is worried. Her only daughter lives in a suburb of Dallas, Texas; where the homes are newly constructed with imported dry-wall and built in a few weeks by strangers from far-away lands. The houses in Dimmeydale are made of brick, mortar, and plaster. For God’s sake, they added a little more plaster whenever they could. My poor wife hasn’t figured out how to hang a picture on these walls but it is solid as rock. We all melt in the summer and freeze in the cave-like structures in the winter. There is a single certainty in the homes: following the second-coming the houses will be standing proud with their original craftsmanship.
We had roughly 177 kids come by the night of Trick-or-Treat. There were 48 ice princesses, one hermit, 27 super heroes, three witches, two devils, and a President. As is typical for the evening, the spirits from the Greenwood Cemetery ascended upon the festivities. They mingle among the families admiring the joy in the children and anxiety from the parents. The roads, sidewalks, waterlines, and homes were all built with their hands and they are forever attached to our tree-lined streets. They wander around with only their names- Schmidt, Stifel, Hodge, and McCorkle. All of us living Halloween participants are standing on the shoulders of these giants and the inherited plaster.
The most peaceful time of the year in Dimmeydale are the moments once Trick-or-Treat has passed. The children are inside their warm homes ravaging through the candy, while the exterior lights have opened up the view of the street and there is holy silence. All that is left is quiet old men on their front porches grinning at the nights’ calm and coughing from their autumn colds. The ghosts saunter back to the Greenwood Cemetery, awaiting their time and opportunity for next year’s All Hallows’ Eve.
I look over at my neighbor Bill and he has begun to grow his winter beard. He is smiling as his belly protrudes over his belt. I believe that he too has fallen victim to a war of gratitude. There is peace and quiet here in Dimmeydale for the moment and it is a Holy Night. And I realize that he dressed as Santa for Halloween.