• Elliot Harper

The Tales of a Yorkshireman living in Texas: Halloween

Updated: Dec 21, 2019

“Pain and pleasure, indivisible.”

- Elliott Spencer

Halloween Special.

They really go all out for Halloween in the US. Everything you’ve ever seen in the movies is true. You know that part in E.T when they take the alien out dressed as a ghost and he walks past Yoda? I know you know what I mean! Well, it’s actually like that! Costumes, decorations, events, food and drink specials, horror movie nights, the whole lot. It’s practically on par with Thanksgiving and Christmas. To be honest, I’m surprised it’s not an official holiday. Anyway, they really go all out, and Houston is no exception. You can drive through the Heights and River Oaks, and you will see that people have decorated their whole houses for the big day. Skeletons and ghosts hang from trees. Pumpkin head lanterns with candles illuminating them from within line front porches. Fake cobwebs are strewn around windows and doors. Halloween has well and truly come.

Me and Naomi being the boring Brits don’t really get into it. I bought a pumpkin head container for her one year for a laugh, but we never leave them outside. There’s a specific reason for that. If you display any Halloween paraphernalia, it means that you are open to a visit from Trick or Treaters. That’s the sign that they can come wandering up to the house and stuff their faces with sweets that we should have left out. Now, I’ve got nothing against Halloween. I personally love it because it means I have a decent excuse to watch horror movies, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to leave sweets (or candy as it’s known over here) out for people just to take does it? I mean, come on. I’m a Yorkshireman! That particular breed of man has been known to be tight with their money in the past, I’m no exception.

So, here I sit. It’s the 31st of October. Halloween, just in case you’ve forgotten, and I’m home alone. Naomi is still at work, which leaves me to my own devices. Of course, what that really means is I can binge the shit out of my favourite horror movies until she returns, which I’m told will be late (something to do with her job, I’m not sure what. It’s like how no one knows what Chandler does. I don’t fully understand it, but it pays the bills.) It’s early evening, the dogs have been let out to do their business, I’ve eaten dinner, the blinds are closed, and I have two of the best horror movies sat in front of me. Hellraiser and The Thing. Absolute classics. I’ve only left one lamp on so that the house will appear to be dark and empty from the outside. I don’t want any of these pesky Trick or Treaters sensing that I might be inside, especially since there are no sweets outside. Of course, I do have some sweets, but they are for me. A nice bag of Celebrations that I’ve saved from our last visit to the U.K. There’s zero chance they are getting any of this kind of high-quality product.

It’s a tough choice, but I start with Clive Barkers 1987 classic, Hellraiser. I’m not afraid to admit that I love this movie. I can’t even come close to remembering how many times I’ve watched it. I’m sure there’s a few of you out there who haven’t seen this movie, which is scandalous! It’s perfect for Halloween. The film starts with dirty Frank Cotton who’s into some serious sadistic shit. He finds a puzzle box that ends up opening a doorway to another dimension (as these things frequently do) and unleashes the Cenobites. Now, really, if you think about it, he was asking for it. This lot don’t play around. Led by Pinhead (who has pins in his head obviously, come on, it’s in the name) the Cenobites set to work on torturing him to actual pieces. For a movie set in the late 80s, Barker really goes all in for the darkness here. Excellent stuff if you like messed up shit (which as you know, I do.) I’m fully immersed in the film when there’s a knock on the door. The sound makes me jump and sets the dogs off.

Tap, tap, tap.

Bloody Trick or Treaters. It has to be. It can’t be anything else. The shits. It is Halloween after all. Like I’ve said, the little turds aren’t getting any of these Celebrations. I quickly pause the movie and wait. I hold my breath, a thoroughly pointless thing to do as they surely won’t be able to hear me breathe through the walls, but there you go. I wait, a few minutes pass. I’m fairly certain they must be gone, so I return to the movie. The brother of Frank Cotton is moving into his old house now with his hot daughter (and her amazingly 80s hair) and creepy wife/stepmother who did the dirty with Cotton before she married the hapless Larry. I wince as poor useless Larry cuts his hand on a nail while trying to carry a bed up the stairs. The ripping of the flesh looks gruesome. It still gets me after all these years, when there is another knock on the door.

Tap, tap, tap.

Come on. Not again! I quickly pause the movie and set the bag of sweets down. I don’t bother holding my breath this time after realising how pointless it was last time. The dogs begin to bark, the same as before, but I can’t even tell them off as that will reveal my deception, so I let them continue. After a few moments, they stop. I scoot along the sofa and quickly peek between the blinds to see if they are still outside. Nothing. The porch is shrouded in darkness. There is no one in sight. I return to the Cenobites and Celebrations… what a tag team. A combination no one realised they wanted until now. Half an hour or so passes, and once again, I’m fully immersed in the movie. Dirty Frank is back from the other side now, and he’s roped the nasty wife/stepmother into some murder, the tricky bastard. She must really like that sadistic shit. Suddenly, there is another knock on the door. I can’t believe it.

Tap, tap, tap.

I pause the movie once again and curse under my breath (something that I won’t repeat here.) This is really beginning to piss me off now. The dogs irritatingly bark away as usual. I wait exactly the same time as before. It passes without incident. I sigh and am about to return to the movie when the knocking begins anew. This time it doesn’t stop at three sharp taps but continues.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

This sends the dogs into new heights of anxiety. The noise and the frustration get to me (and possibly the sugar), and I shout at them to shut the fuck up. As soon as the words leave my lips, I realise my mistake. Whoever is outside now knows that I am inside. The subterfuge is over. I sigh. The dogs are still grumbling, which is understandable as the tapping has never stopped. I stride to the front door with a look of what I hope is pure rage on my face with the intention of telling this trickster to piss the hell off.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

The door is practically rattling. I stride up, grab the handle and yank it open with the dogs pacing around behind me. The door pulls inward, and I’m ready to give these little bastards a piece of my mind, but the doorway is empty. No one stands before me. No Trick or Treater. No young children. No neighbours. No E.T dressed as a ghost. Nothing. I carefully stick my head out of the door. The path leading to our house is vacant, the same as the driveway, same as the front garden. I walk outside in my shorts and flip flops risking an unprotected mauling by mosquitoes to check the street. It too is strangely empty. No Trick or Treaters to be found. I shake my head and begin to laugh at my naivety. I shrug my shoulders and silently congratulate the trickster on a job well done. Good one, you bastard, you got me. I turn to return up the path, but I stop dead in my tracks.

Sat on the porch in front of the open door is the plastic pumpkin head container that I jokingly bought for Naomi the previous Halloween. It’s definitely the same one. It couldn’t be any other. I swing my head wildly around, but there’s still no one in sight. I can see both dogs through the door, they pace nervously, but strangely they don’t try to leave the confines of the house. I cautiously walk towards the bright orange monstrosity and peer inside fearful of what might be in there. Thankfully, it’s empty. I look up and down the street, fully expecting someone to appear and throw an egg at me, but it’s suspiciously quiet. I begin to shiver as cold fear slips down my spine. I’ve seen enough horror movies to realise what’s going on. The message has been sent.

I run inside, shoving the dogs out of the way and grab the bag of Celebrations. I return equally as quickly to the gaudy orange container and carefully pour the whole bag inside. I head back in the house and close the door quietly behind me. I slowly lower myself on to the sofa and un-pause the movie. I know that no one will knock on the door now that they have what they want. I shake my head. That’s Halloween for you.

That was a tale of a Yorkshireman in Texas.

A bloke with a ginger beard who writes.



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