Ring the doorbell at the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks household, and you’ll get some kind of menacingly invasive claw thrust at you, with a Milky Way hanging off the end. Do you take the treat? Where has it been? I can only imagine the confusion. If “scared as hell” is not your idea of 2020 yet, then this terrifying trick-or-treat device is just the thing you need to get the raging rumor machine going in your neighborhood. Heres’ what all of the ghouls and goblins will say:
“What is it?”
“It looks like some kind of swampy thing?”
“I don’t know. The house wasn’t even decorated for Halloween or anything, so I wasn’t expecting much, but then, this, this, claw-like thing with green stuff hanging from it, just reached out into the night. It was holding full-sized candy bars, so that was cool, but seriously, it just kind of hovered there—daring me to take it—I almost just ran off.”
And, that’s how horrifyingly gripping legends are made.
This year, neighbors are doing all kinds of things to ensure a safe trick-or-treat experience, including making chutes for treats to slide down and spacing treat bags six feet apart all over the lawn. That all sounds like fun, but the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Team might go with a long grabber-arm thing that we carefully extend past the door. The treat on the end can then be tossed or dropped into a pillowcase or Louis Vuitton bag—or whatever the kids are taking with them these days.
Of course, that claw needs to be decorated, and for that scary feat, I turned to Nate and Alex.
Me: Come on! I need some ideas. What does this claw/grabber thing look like? What can I do to make it look scary? I could kind of turn it into a squid or something—or maybe make some teeth?
Nate: Just buy a plastic hand and stick it on the end.
Me: No. I don’t want to go out and buy anything. I have to use things around the house. I think I like the squid idea the best. Alex, how do I make tentacles and the squid face?
Alex: Do you have tissue paper?
Alex: I’ll get started.
Me: Yay! I’ll crack open a beer. Let me know if you need any help.
Five minutes later.
Me: So, um, Alex. That doesn’t look like a squid?
Alex: I made the Grassman instead.
Me: Ahhh. Yes. The Grassman.
The Grassman is an Ohio legend. He’s a kind of Sasquatch that runs around and scares people. Witnesses describe him as “hairy” and “scary,” and he “pops out in the middle of fields covered in tall grass.” People here in the state of Washington will not know about the Grassman. Washington is famous for Sasquatch sightings, but not specifically the Grassman. I’m so pleased to be educating my neighborhood this year—and providing a little bit of Ohio folklore and whimsy for the kiddos.
In any case, making the Grassman claw is quite a production. Alex did a great job. He glued two pieces of construction paper together and poked holes in them for threading green yarn. When he realized that he did not have a needle for yarn, he fashioned one out of green garden wire, which I thought was absolutely brilliant. Then, he dropped the needle on the floor, while I was making dinner.
Alex: Dad! I lost the needle. I can’t find it. I dropped it on the floor, and now I can’t find it.
Nate: Is it sharp?
Alex: Uh, yeah!
Nate: Crap. We have to find it before your mother steps on it.
In any case, I held my breath while they found the needle. (That was the most intense part of the project.) After that, Alex tied other strings of yarn to the “stitches” he made in the paper. Then, I helped him glue (with a glue stick) pieces of tissue paper to some of the bare spots. We stapled the whole thing to the claw and got to work—chasing each other around the house. It was especially fun to attach something gross to the mouth of the claw, such as some left-over hot dogs I forgot about.
The claw, in action, really does resemble a floating apparition of some kind of Grassman arm. And, in that sense, it’s kind of eerie and unsettling. The full-sized candy bar, reaching out into the night, drifting on swaying blades of Kermit-The-Frog green grass, makes it seem like the otherworldly Grassman is whispering in dulcet tones:
“Go on. Take it. Everything will be okay. Sweet dreams tonight, young Bobby and Lisa. Sweet dreams.”
In Other News: I’m doing a reading of selections of short stories from my book, The Places We Haunt. I’ll be using Facebook Rooms. The reading will take place Wednesday, October 21 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Please use this link here to learn more about how to attend: The Places We Haunt: Live Reading on Facebook.
“The Twisty Board” is a short story of mine that was published in a really cool new journal called Your Dream Journal. The editor is awesome, and I LOVE the graphic he put with this story. Even if you don’t read the story, click on the link to see the graphic. Check it out here: “The Twisty Board.”
Your Turn: If you celebrate Halloween, what are your plans this year?