Halloween is the time of year when my family celebrates giving treats to little goblins and remembering our ancestors and loved ones who’ve passed on. We’ve made many Halloween memories, but one year’s events stand out because what happened was totally creepy and it remains a mystery.
Our daughters were very young at the time—one in elementary school and the other still a toddler. As was our custom, we’d taken them up and down our long street to trick or treat. Then we came back home. Joining us for hot chocolate and snacks were their cousins and the children of a friend of ours. The children’s parents were there too.
We went outside to the patio where I told them the ghost story I’d written. That was a custom—each year, I’d write a Halloween poem or story to share after the candy quest was done.
My daughters always ended up going to bed later on Halloween, and that year was no exception. I tucked them in after saying prayers, and headed to the living room to join my husband. We tidied up, finished the dishes, and then agreed to watch a little TV. I remember we were a little revved up because of all the activity and of course we’d consumed some of the candy. So we stayed up a bit later to relax before turning in.
Soon we both got sleepy, so we headed to the bedroom. We’d turned out lights in all the other rooms and locked the doors. I remember clearly what happened next and the time—it was about ten minutes before midnight.
As we turned our bed down, suddenly there was an intense knock at our front door. I looked at the clock on our wall. Who in the world was knocking on our door at that hour?
At that time our little middle class neighborhood sandwiched between expensive homes and cheap apartments was vulnerable to some of the crime that plagued our city. So I went over to peek out the window—you could see our front porch from our bedroom window—and I saw a young man standing there.
My husband mumbled something about how late it was, and he headed to the door. I stood by the nightstand on my side of the bed, and I reached into the drawer to place my pistol on the table. The phone was on the table too, so I felt comforted by the fact I could quickly call the police if something went awry, and we could defend ourselves until the police arrived. Our bedroom was close to the front door, so I could hear everything that might be said.
My husband cracked the front door, but left the storm door latched. “Can I help you?” he asked.
The young man who was wearing a white dress shirt, skinny necktie, and dark dress pants—I recall he had beautiful curly hair—startled us both with his answer.
‘I’m selling magazines,” he said. “Would you like to buy a subscription?” His voice was sort of high-pitched.
My husband declined, and told him to be careful out there because “it’s so late” before closing the door.
I ran back to the bedroom window to see if the young man had parked a car nearby. Were others with him? And this is the mystery that still intrigues me.
No car was parked on the street. I watched as the stranger slowly walked to the front of our driveway. I could see him clearly because the street lights were so bright. As soon as he got to the end of our drive, he literally disappeared. It freaked me out. I even went to the back of the house and to the side window too because I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to try to get in the house. That fellow was nowhere to be seen.
There were no thick bushes, no shrubs the man could’ve hidden behind. We had a clean visual sweep of the houses across the street, our entire front yard, and our neighbor’s front yard to the right of us. There wasn’t a soul on that street. The man was there one minute, gone the next.
For the next week or so I asked my neighbors if a young man had come to their house trying to sell magazine subscriptions late at night on Halloween. No one had seen him.
I admit our neighborhood had a tragedy that sometimes gave us pause. Years before we’d moved there, a man had killed his wife and children, then himself, for reasons unknown. I always thought that particular house looked creepy, especially on Halloween. That story, however, widely covered by media, didn’t influence the way I felt after a strange young man, well-dressed, knocked on our door just before the witching hour on Halloween, and then literally disappeared.
I haven’t had a Halloween as creepy since then, and I hope I don’t in the future. My husband remembers that evening, but it didn’t creep him out as much as it did me.
“Probably just some nut,” said the hubs.
(Kay B. Day/Oct. 29, 2020)