There was more than one party that Hallows Eve in Deercliff.
The town was situated some twenty miles outside of one of the states largest cities, a nice sort of haven for retirees, growing families, and yuppies that didn’t mind a commute to work each day. Built as a logging town, Deercliff had been all but dead until the 1960’s, when the hippies moved in and it served a short time as a sort of commune. That too would end up leaving the town essentially forsaken, after some strange rumors of aliens, cult sacrifice, and all the other trappings of a community dependent on lysergic acid diethylamide. With the tech boom in the 90’s, the town became a sort of natural haven for the upper middle crust, pulling many of the families that take place in this drama into its sleepy fold. It still held all its charm from each previous batch of inhabitants, but Deercliff wore its new L.L Bean meets Cabelas style well.
Up on the hill that the town gets it’s name from (it’s said ole Meriwether himself saw a deer on it, but who really knows) Mr. Aiden Griffen hosted his famous Masked Ball. The theme this year was “Lit Literature”. Lights could be seen from the tawny manor Mr. Griffen called a home in the town below all night. The small Mexican population (which shared the trailer park with the small Native American population) hosted a large community party both in the community center and the trailer park itself. All the teachers of Deercliff Alternative High School rented out The Gretel, the least dive-y of the two bars in town. And of course the youngsters hit all the best houses along Main and Clark St.
In spite of all these events, many Deercliff-ians spent Halloween alone or at home. Delia Léonne was one of these people. A junior at DAHS, she had learned by now to never expect an invite to one of Big Mac’s functions. She adjusted each candle carefully, watched each step to not mess up the chalk lines, and made sure the incense was lit in the correct order. The stack of books she had recently rented from the school library (Drawing Down the Moon, Wicca for Beginners, A Witch’s Grimoire, and Fault in Our Stars) watched as she stripped her black tanktop and leggings, stepped into one of the chalk circles and began chanting. The open locket was the only thing she left on as she began her “spell”, and as she rocked back and forth the moonlight bounced off the small picture of Maggie Nice.
Todd Sizemore was another of this lower social class. The fact that his index-middle and ring-pinky fingers had been kind of molded together since birth had always made him different. Then there was the fact that by sixth grade he was six foot four inches, and he grew another three freshman year. Todd had grown up hearing the popular kids talk behind his back, and had always felt their gaze, yet he had never let it bother him. Instead, he embraced their slight, unease, around him and channeled his efforts into accruing knowledge. Particularly with regards to music. He spent his Halloween night making beats in his mother’s basement and eating leftover candy by the handful. Todd was in bed by 8 pm that night, attempting to get enough sleep so that he could go to work at Kate’s early in the morning.
Todd washed dishes (breakfast shift) on weekends at Kate’s. He had been doing it since he was thirteen, and he truly loved the work. He got to spend all day listening to music, avoiding the looks of other people, and got all the free coffee he wanted (not to mention the previous day’s pie). Kate always treated him nice, never let any of the cooks or wait staff yell at him, never got mad if a glass fell or if he dropped a plate. He liked to go in early, since the night guy always left a huge stack of dishes left from dinner. Well Kate never gave him the key to the front of the house, Todd could get in through the door they took the garbage out and start up the machine. Kate also liked him to get the grills fired up and the first pot of coffee going.
November 1st was a normal morning for Todd. As he walked through the still dark town he smiled at the signs of the previous night. Houses TP’d, candy wrappers littering the sidewalk, parts of costumes caught on different things. On his route he passed the haunted maze at the center of town. Already town workers were pulling the haystacks and loading them onto flatbeds. He got to Kate’s at his usual time of 4:45 AM, went through his usual steps and plugged his ipod into the stereo. Morning time was the only time he could listen to hip-hop, since Kate said it made some of the costumers (the old kind) uncomfortable. Todd was fine with that, and he had no problem listening to classic rock all day, but he cherished these little morning sessions. He liked to rap along, or use the dirty dishes to try to recreate the beats. Feeling nostalgic, he threw on Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin and got to work.
Todd heard the front bell ring at 5:00, Kate’s usual time. Then Kate came in screaming. “Jesus fucking christ, oh god, god, jesus shit shit shit shit…” Todd heard the frantic search through what must have been Kate’s purse. He walked around the counter and poked his head out.
“Kate?” he said in a soft voice.
“Hello, 9-11, oh jesus christ, there’s a girl out front, she’s, her tops all torn and theres blood everywhere…no, no I haven’t touched her… Listen to me, she’s, it’s like she was bleeding from her… yes… yea, I know her… thank you… Uh, the corner of Spring and Clark… No, no I’m the first one here, well I think… TODD?”
Todd came out front and got his first glimpse of what was going on. Kate’s mascara was running, her whole body shaking, and while one hand held the phone to her right ear the other (which had some red liquid on it) was fumbling with a unlit cigarette.
“No, I’m not alone, my dishwasher is here… Yea, Sizemore… no… no… thank you for that… I’ll have him check,” she lowered the phone and looked at Todd. “Todd, there is a girl out front, she is in your class. She isn’t feeling well. The police are, uh, the police are on their way. Will you please go wait for with her? I’m not sure if she is awake, but I’m sure a familiar face could do her some good. Will you do that for me please sweetie? Don’t touch her though, ok?”
Todd nodded slowly. He had never seen Kate shaken up. Todd walked slowly towards the door, and as he approached, he saw the pair of legs through the glass. He went out and looked down on the body of Maggie Nice. Her legs had large, deep purple bruises on them. Pulled down around her right foot was a leopard print thong, the heel that went for that foot was missing. She was still wearing her costume, and the badge patch on her shoulder had been torn, revealing a big patch of her back and the strap of her bra. A large cut ran down her back, with several smaller ones, almost claw-like around her neck. Her face was turned away from Todd, and her thick curly hair blocked out whatever expression she had. Todd felt a deep sickness strike him as he looked down on the girl. He didn’t think the two of them had ever shared a word, but tears began welling up in his eyes. He took several steps away from the body, pacing rapidly and glancing in to see what Kate was doing. She still held the phone to her head, but was now sitting down, and her whole body violently shuddered at random intervals.
Todd made several small routes, taking 4 steps away from the body, three back towards it, 5 steps away, 2 back towards it, and soon he found himself staring at the hand painted sign on the window on the other side of the building. Ann Marie Bennett painted it, a big slice of pie with enticing heat waves coming off it. Sitting by the edge of the window was an ash pan. It was the smell that drew Todd to the cigarette receptacle. A chewed up, still burning cigar sat in the middle of the top pan, and sitting next to it, a new Iphone 7 plus with a bedazzled back that said “Mag-Nificent”.