10/27/2008

Tuesday Story

Leading up to this Friday I thought I would share a section of the first novel I wrote. (No, it hasn't been published but I still wrote it which doesn’t change the fact that it is still a novel. Or does it?) The excerpt takes place on a Friday night that just happens to be Halloween. What a coincidence. A little back story is in order: The story is about a “Christian from birth” who, at middle age, decides to turn his back on his faith. He assumes everything else in his life will stay the same—the loving wife, the wonderful kids—but then he lands a “dream job” in Atlanta and things at home do not go as planned. The story picks up soon after starting his new job, waiting for his old house to sell and for his family to join him. Wally is a new friend he has made since arriving in the big city.

When I walked into the offices Friday morning I was stunned to see the receptionist dressed like Cruella DeVille from the 101 Dalmatians movies. When I asked what was the point of the outfit she politely reminded me that it was Halloween. I couldn’t believe a major holiday had snuck up on me but my current situation away from family and living in a hotel didn’t offer a lot of reminders. Halloween was one of the holidays the church had decided to ruin, trying to pay back the world for screwing up Christmas and Easter. It used to be about candy and costumes. Now the preachers have turned it into Satan worship and the fear of baby sacrifices. When I was a kid, Halloween may have been the most fun holiday in my house. My dad would channel his inner thespian and create elaborate costumes and devise various ways to scare all of the little trick-or-treaters who knocked on our door. My favorite memory was the year dad dressed up as Dracula. Our house had a set of stairs that began their climb up as you entered the front door, offering the perfect angle to rest a cardboard coffin. When kids would ring the doorbell and scream “trick or treat,” mom would stay hidden behind the door and open it very slow. As the kids stood there facing a dark entryway, unsure of what to do, my dad would dramatically rise out of the coffin to a sitting position, shining a flashlight up from under his chin. He would then say “ Goot Eve-ah-ning” with all the clich├ęd inflections of a vampire, or at least what the movies had taught us. If the kids hung around through that mini-drama, mom would load them up with candy and tell them to warn their friends. Inevitably we would get a call from a concerned parent and I would have to pull sentry duty, signaling to mom and dad if the kids were old enough to get the full treatment or just receive their candy from a kindler, gentler vampire. In the climate of today, when Halloween has been replaced with Fall Festivals and parades through the mall, my pastor/father would get called up before the Southern Baptist Convention on heresy charges if he pulled any of those stunts now. Too bad. He was a great vampire AND a great pastor.

(Part Two will be posted on Wednesday)

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