Happy Halloween! Here is a comedy tale for your Halloween reading pleasure!
(Note: To my fellow Baltimore Ravens fans. This was written several years ago so that explains the reference to a dismal football season.)
The cold, biting wind rattled the windows of the small townhouse and added a sense of macabre to the last night of October. Rain threatened from the heavy clouds, aglow from the lights of Washington, DC below. However, the unseasonably cool weather did little to subdue the enthusiasm of the millions of trick-or-treaters infesting the neighborhoods in search of sugary rewards.
Inside the townhouse only a few miles south of the Pentagon, four writers sat in a dimly lit room among countless empty bottles of beer, rum, whiskey and gin and boxes of pizza strewn about. At this late hour of the night, no ideas for stories had been developed and the constructive suggestion to run naked up I-395 toward DC had been soundly defeated.
“We have to stick with our original plan” was the consensus of the foursome.
“That’s the only way we’re going to cure our collective writers’ block,” insisted Red, as lucid as he could for someone with a blood alcohol level that would pickle a full-grown horse.
“Yes,” Nomar added emphatically. “We agreed we’re going to use the Wheezy board…”
“Whatever. To contact the spirits of our favorite dead authors to help us out,” he tried to focus on the bottle in his hand. “I’d like to start with Glen Moray.”
“He’s not even a real person, Nomar,” Alex said waving another empty bottle. “He’s a brand of Scotch. Not like Captain Morgan! Let’s try him.”
“Come on, guys,” Bran urged, as the voice of reason that had been dipped repeatedly in Crown Royal and coke. “It’s almost midnight. We gotta get the Squeegee board…”
“Whatever. Before then,” he finished.
“Got it right here!” Red shouted, digging through a pile of Coors Light cans, Doritos sacks and crumpled up papers. He pulled a box out from underneath the garbage and with a sweep of his hand knocked everything off the coffee table to make room. He laid out the board with the planchette while Alex doused the remaining lights and lit a few candles.
“All right! Let’s get to it. Who wants to go first?” Red asked.
“I do!” Bran said with excitement. “I would like to summon…what’s that smell?”
“It’s from the candles,” Alex replied. “I have Cinnamon, Fall Harvest and Holly Berry.”
“You’re not supposed to use scented candles at a séance!” Red snapped.
“Tough shit! Besides, they’re all I have so we’ll just have to make do.”
Sighing in annoyance, Red turned back to the board. “Who are we bugging tonight, Bran?”
“Um, Bran. Stephen King isn’t dead yet,” Nomar reminded him.
“I know,” Bran said unperturbed. “But I don’t think that he is going to allow a little thing like not being dead stop him from chatting with us.”
The men concentrated on the board and the planchette began to move.
“Shh!” Red warned. “Is that Stephen King?”
NO. The planchette indicated.
“Who is this then?” Bran asked the air above the board.
HIS TWILIGHT PHONE
“Twilight phone? You mean like the Twilight Zone?” Red asked.
“But that’s Rod Stewart, isn’t it?” Bran sounded dazed and confused.
“No, that was Rod Steiger.” Alex interjected.
“It was something like ‘surly’,” Nomar put in.
IT’S ROD SERLING, EINSTEINS
“Wow! How did we end up with you instead of Stephen King, Mr. Serling?” Red asked the board.
HE FORWARDED HIS SUMMONS UNTIL HE IS DEAD
“Well, that just blows!” Bran said in disgust and tossed back a shot of Crown Royal.
“Let’s try someone else,” Red suggested. “Nomar, who do you want to try?”
“I like Edgar Allan Poe.”
“Great! Perfect for a spooky Halloween night! Everybody, focus on Poe,” Red instructed.
Soon the planchette began to move again.
“Is that Edgar Allan Poe?” Nomar whispered with the fumes of an expensive, single malt Scotch riding on his breath.
“Cool! I have a question about inspiration for writing horror.”
Nomar, too drunk to be offended, pressed on. “How did you deal with writer’s block?”
“Man, he’s kinda cranky tonight,” Alex noted.
“Mr. Poe, why are you so angry?” Nomar asked.
RAVENS WENT 3 AND 13 LAST SEASON
“But they picked up a quarterback in the draft this year,” Alex responded.
BIG DEAL. OFFENSE STILL SUCKS
“He’s got a point, you know.” Alex swirled his rum punch thoughtfully.
“OK, enough of that,” Red said. “Alex! Your turn!”
“Thanks, Red. I want to contact Agatha Christie. I think she’s been through a séance or two herself.”
“Cool! Agatha it is.”
The planchette did not move.
“What do we do now?” Bran asked in a hushed voice. “Open a bottle of poisoned wine?”
“Hey, Brits like gin!” Nomar remembered.
"I'm on it, Nomar." Alex opened a bottle of Beefeaters and waved it around the room, allowing the vapors to call the otherworld.
“Look! The planchette’s moving!” Red said.
“Is this Dame Christie?” Alex’s voice was stilted and automatic.
“Then who are you?”
I AM THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME
“Damn! We got the wrong number!”
“Christmas is two months away!”
“Wait!” Alex shouted. “While we’ve got him on the line, ask him what the NFL playoff picture will look like then.”
DONT KNOW. DONT CARE
IM BRITISH, YOU WANKERS.
“Oh, that reminds me,” Alex said, nearly spilling his drink as a memory shoved its way through the rum-soaked bog of his mind. “Amanda wanted us to contact someone for her if we did this.”
“How did being insulted by a ghost remind you of that?” Nomar asked.
“She’s British and she thinks he’s a wanker,” Red replied matter-of-factly.
“Who does she want us to find?” asked Bran.
“Erma Bombeck, the greatest female comedy writer of all time,” Alex answered.
“Groovy! Let’s see if we can get it right this time,” Red turned back to the board. The planchette began to move at once.
“Huh?” Red was surprised. “What does that mean?”
HOW R U 2DAY
“What? She’s texting?” Bran was as shocked as the other three.
Alex recovered from his surprise. “Ms. Bombeck, our friend Amanda wants to know what your secret is to becoming a great comedy writer.”
OMG LIKE IDK, MY NEW BFFS.
“You know that Amanda’s never going to believe this,” Alex looked up from the board.
“Maybe she will. This seems to be Erma’s brand of humor,” Bran said. Alex nodded.
Without warning, the planchette moved again.
The four men were stunned into silence.
“Beware of what? Of who?” Red asked in an excited whisper.
“Shouldn’t that be ‘of whom’?”
“Now we know why all the spirits have been in bad moods tonight.”
BEWARE OF ALEX
“Me?” Alex was bewildered and dumbfounded as Bran, Nomar and Red looked at him.
“I don’t think this is Erma Bombeck any more,” Nomar stated with hesitance.
“Why should we beware of Alex?” Red’s eyebrows knitted together in concern.
HE IS A CRAZY BASTARD
HE IS A TWISTED SONOFABITCH
KINKY AND PERVERTED
“That’s old news.”
“Tell us something we don’t know.”
HE IS STALKING ALL OF YOU
“We know that, too!”
“OK, Grandma! That’s enough,” Alex found his voice.
ALL RIGHT DEAR. JUST LOOKING OUT FOR YOU
“Thanks, Grandma. Love you! Say hi to Grandpa for me.”
WILL DO. LOVE YOU TOO. BYE.
The planchette came to a stop.
“Well, that was awkward,” Alex said, feeling his face heat up. No one spoke. He jumped to his feet. “So who’s up for running naked along I-395?”
“Count me in!”
(c) 2008 Alex Morgan