Friday afternoon…and Charlie stepped down from the school bus with a big grin on his face. The end of the school week always put a smile on his face, but this day was special…it was Halloween.
He’d been looking forward to this all month long. The buzz in his sixth grade classroom today was that a bunch of eighth graders were going to water bomb all the younger kids from their middle school tonight. Jeff Lynch had overheard his older brother talking on the phone about it. Jeff said it couldn’t be a lie because Morton’s was completely out of balloons, he’d checked.
Charlie thought that was a pretty lame prank because there would be a lot of parents out with their young kids and someone would call 9-1-1. It would be real funny if half a dozen eighth graders were locked up for something that stupid.
Tonight he was going to dress up as the Grim Reaper. He had the black robe his mother had sewn and what passed for a scythe with a cardboard blade. Lame, he knew, but this had been his second choice since dressing as a witch was considered unacceptable for a boy. Now that he was twelve, almost thirteen, Charlie knew his trick or treat days were numbered. He would never get to be a witch.
Once he became a teenager his mother might think he was too old to run around the neighborhood in costume. A shame really, what better source would he have for all the treats a kid could gather in just a few hours’ work. Next year he might just have to start stealing candy from his little brother.
Mark was seven and had years of Halloween fun ahead, but the boy was afraid of ghosts. How stupid. Charlie’s only concern this year was that his mother would force him to drag Mark along from door to door. The Grim Reaper didn’t need to babysit, especially since his brother was going to wear that silly cowboy outfit again.
Charlie walked the block from the bus stop to his yard noting all the pumpkins on front porches and skeletons hanging from tree limbs. Newton Falls was a great little town filled with older homes and everyone in this neighborhood seemed to be in the Halloween frame of mind.
The Parkers across the street had their yard filled with decorations. Spider webs and witches hung from the eves of their porch, but then Mr. Parker was bit eccentric. They had four young kids and Mrs. Parker joked that she counted five kids if you included her husband. During the Christmas season their yard was filled with so many displays that the lights kept Charlie up at night.
Charlie climbed the steps and unlocked the front door with his key. He was old enough to have one now and responsible enough not to lose it. He picked the mail up off the floor in the hallway and set it on the side table in the living room. Then he made the rounds from living room to dining room and out into the kitchen where he opened the refrigerator for some juice.
“Meow.” Betsy came wandering in out of the laundry room and headed straight for Charlie. Half the neighborhood had cats, and they came in all shapes and sizes. But Betsy had shown up on their doorstep about five months ago and they adopted her. She took to Charlie almost immediately, probably because he fed her. Now she rubbed against his ankles and began to purr.
“Do you want to go out with me tonight?” Charlie asked.
Betsy looked up at him and smiled. “Meow.” Charlie would take that as a yes. He leaned down to run his fingers down her spine and Betsy arched her back. What a shame, a black cat was the perfect partner for a Halloween witch.
His mother didn’t want to hear about it. “Boys do not dress up as witches.”
Charlie didn’t think that fair. After all, if the disguise was really good who would know he was a boy? She told him he could go as a wizard if he wanted because that was an acceptable male role. Hell, it was only a costume for goodness sake…well, maybe.
Mark would be home from school in an hour and his mother back from work around five. Charlie took the stairs two at a time and headed down the hall to his bedroom with Betsy right on his heels. He dumped his book bag on the floor by his desk and stopped to look at the robe hanging on his closet door. Hmm, perhaps there was time.
Charlie kicked off his shoes and slid out of his jeans and t-shirt before opening the closet door. As usual he stopped to admire himself in the full length mirror on the back of the door. Twelve was such a gawky age…his body was not cooperating with his desires.
He posed and flexed his arms…were they getting any bigger? Charlie had read that boys should do fifty push-ups and fifty sit-ups every day and he did them every morning before school…at least he tried. His stomach was flat and devoid of the baby fat that had lingered until he was ten.
Charlie pulled open the waistband of his boxers and looked down. “Come on, damn it…grow!”
He didn’t think exercising his arms and stomach would do much for enlarging his penis. What he needed was hair down there…at least some kind of growth so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed to shower with the other boys after gym class. Charlie reached into the closet and pulled down the cardboard box that had once held his laptop. He set it on the bed and opened the lid.
The dress was black and close fitting, made with some shiny soft fabric. Charlie had been a fan of the Little Zelda comic books since he was Mark’s age. Zelda was a young witch who lived in modern suburbia and had normal relationships with other kids who didn’t seem to notice her witchy manners and attire. But she had long black hair and wore this slinky black dress…the very image Charlie was after.
He’d found the dress at the Goodwill store this past summer and paid ten dollars for it. The lady there had given him a funny look until Charlie explained it was going to be a Halloween costume…and it would have been if his mother wasn’t so stupid about things.
Charlie dropped his boxers on the floor and slid into the dress. The feel of the fabric on his bare skin was a turn on and he immediately became aroused. He looked at the reflection in the mirror and smiled. His hair wasn’t quite long enough to support the image, but it was getting there. There was no doubt in his mind…he looked good in a dress…he almost looked feminine.
The image was confusing, probably because his arousal spoiled the lines of the dress. He was nothing more than a boy in women’s clothing and knew he could never be a girl. But he’d seen pictures on a few adult websites and knew the vocabulary. Transvestite was a concept he could not relate to…perhaps he was just a cross-dresser.
Charlie could only imagine what the boys at school would think if they saw him like this. Some of them would freak out, others become angry. He would be called names, bullied and even beat up. No one would care what he thought…what did he think?
The dress made him feel sexy, but at this point in his life sex was just a concept. He knew that would change with puberty…and then what? His three closest friends at school were already masturbating with good results, or so they said. That left Charlie feeling like the baby in their midst. But he would bet they didn’t feel this sexy.
“What do you think, Betsy? Is this sexy?”
“Good girl, I knew I could count on you.”
Charlie slid out of the dress, folded it carefully and hid it back in the closet. He looked at the robe once again and sighed. The shapeless fabric didn’t look like anything sexy, but at least he could go naked under it. Yes, that might be fun since no one would know. Maybe he’d run into Brian this evening and they could…but not if Mark was there.
Brian was in fifth grade, eleven years old, and already had pubic hair…at least a few wisps where it counted. Charlie had been given a glimpse at the community pool this past summer and was immediately jealous. It was all the confirmation he needed that his biological clock was screwed up.
Brian was cute, at least in Charlie’s estimation. Perhaps the right term would have been handsome, but cute seemed to apply. They seemed mutually attracted and since Charlie was never one to turn down a friendship they hung out together sometimes on the weekends.
Charlie’s mother worked on Saturdays and Mark often spent time with the Parker kids across the street. This left Charlie and Brian alone for hours and became the occasion for shared exploration. It only confirmed that Brian was headed into the embrace of puberty while Charlie seemed to be left standing out in the cold. And then one day he pulled out the dress.
At first Brian was shocked, amused, and then he became excited. He thought Charlie looked sexy in black and deserved a kiss, so they did that…and that led to more. Brian had his own ideas about what sexy meant and from Charlie’s point of view it was damn close to real sex, with him on the female side of the bargain.
Once the dress came off they were just two naked boys on a bed, and yet Brian was definitely playing out the male role. Charlie had never kissed a boy and yet here they were making out, groping one another and then…well, Charlie had never considered the things Brian wanted to do.
That was all three weeks ago, and Charlie had been thinking about it every day. Those thoughts had given new meaning to wearing the dress and made him feel better about doing it. Brian may have said the dress made him feel sexy but Charlie figured that was just an excuse. The more he thought about it there could only be one conclusion: Brian was gay.
Maybe cross-dressing was a gay thing, but Charlie didn’t feel gay. The things Brian had suggested they might do were definitely gay and Charlie had baulked at the ideas. But every time he put on the dress he thought about it. Perhaps if they did just a few of those things…
Oops, his bedside clock said it was almost four o’clock and Mark would be getting home. Charlie looked around for his boxers and slid them on just as he heard the front door slam. A minute later Mark appeared in the doorway.
“It’s Halloween,” Mark yelled.
“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” Charlie said.
Mark frowned. “Are you going to walk me around?”
“What does Mom want us to do?”
“She said if you’re going to be mean about it then I’ll have to go around with the Parkers.”
“You like the Parkers,” Charlie said.
“You could come with us,” Mark said. “Mr. Parker said we could trick or treat for two hours and then come back for pizza and a scary movie.”
“You don’t like scary movies…they give you nightmares.”
“Nope, not any more. Are you going to run around with Brian and the other guys?”
“Maybe…probably. Jeff says his brother and a bunch of eighth graders are going to throw water balloons at everyone. Assholes.”
“Oh…well, maybe I better stick with Mr. Parker,” Mark said. “You gonna wear that black robe?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Mom said you wanted to be a witch…only girls can be witches.”
“If I did it right no one would know I was a boy so what’s the difference?”
“I dunno…it just seems kinda gay. Witches aren’t real anyways.”
Charlie grabbed his crotch and shook his penis at Mark. “Suck a fat one.”
“If you had a fat one,” Mark laughed.
Mark knew he had overstepped his bounds the minute he said that so he vanished up the hall and Charlie heard the bedroom door slam. Little brothers were a pain in the ass. Good, Mark was taken care of for the evening.
At four-thirty Charlie went down to the kitchen to get dinner started. His mother was always tired at the end of her workday and so he had started cooking simple things for dinner. The hamburger was thawed so he added a few ingredients, placed it all in a baking dish and turned on the oven.
Cooking wasn’t rocket science since all Charlie ever did was read the instructions on a box or can. His meatloaf was simple and cooked itself. His mother could make the salad when she came home so Charlie washed his hands and went back up to his room.
He laid the robe on his bed and looked down at it. Sure he could go naked, but what if he wore the black dress under the robe? The makeup kit he’d bought at the drugstore was for a witch, but it didn’t really matter, he had that hood which would cover his face. He wanted to wear the dress, and if he got together with Brian…maybe things could happen.
The meatloaf was ready at five-fifteen and his mother walked through the door a short while later. Charlie had already made the salad and Mark had set the table. He was already wearing that ridiculous cowboy outfit and Charlie hoped he didn’t spill ketchup down the front of it.
“This looks wonderful,” Charlie’s mother said. “I guess we better eat so you boys can get going. Have you decided what to do this evening?”
“Mark is going around with the Parkers, and I’m going down to Brian’s house,” Charlie said.
“That’s fine, but I want you home by ten o’clock. Just remember, if the house doesn’t have the lights on don’t go there. Stay in a group…no wandering around alone.”
“Sure, Mom…we know how it works,” Charlie said.
Dinner was quickly finished and Charlie went up to his room to get dressed. He took the makeup into the bathroom and began to cover his face with the white creamy goo out of this little jar. There was also a jar of green, black and red. Once his face was white, Charlie rubbed a little of the green into his cheeks, applied the black around his eyes and a little of the red on his lips. The results were pretty scary, just what he wanted.
He brushed out his hair and then went back to the bedroom where he slid into the dress. A pretty ghoulish witch looked back at him from the mirror…cool. Charlie put on the robe and his black running shoes. The black cloth bag for his goodies was downstairs in the hall closet along with the pretend scythe. He would ditch that stupid thing the minute he left the house.
“My, don’t you look scary,” Charlie’s mother said. She pulled the hood up and adjusted it so Charlie could see where he was going. “Don’t go out of your way to scare the little kids, okay?”
“I won’t,” Charlie promised. “I’ll be home by ten.”
“Have fun…” But Charlie was out the back door before she finished.
The sun was setting and darkness would give Charlie a chance to move around the neighborhood unseen. He went through the back gate and up the alley to the corner. The younger bunch was already out wandering the sidewalks with their parents as the street lights came on to guide their way. To them this was a night to get free candy and dress up in silly costumes.
All Hallows’ Eve had evolved from pagan festivals in the Old World at the end of the harvest season. Charlie’s class had read about the way the festivals had evolved throughout the centuries and the religious significance, but they had all zoomed in on the concept of honoring the dead.
Charlie stood back against the bushes at the end of the alley as several small kids walked by. A little boy in a mouse costume got a glimpse of him hiding there and his mouth dropped open. Wonder if he’ll scream, Charlie thought? Yeah, that’s probably how I would have felt when I was four or five.
It was silly to be scared on a night like this when you knew everyone was out in costume. He grinned at the idea of frightening these kids…and then nearly jumped out of his skin when something touched his ankle.
Damn, he had forgotten all about Betsy. Would she stay with him or go wandering like she usually did? Charlie picked her up and set her on his shoulder. Betsy loved to ride up there and tonight was no different. She nosed her way through the hood and around Charlie’s neck. That would work out fine if she didn’t dig her claws into his neck.
Brian’s house was two blocks over and he could get there if he stayed in the alleys, but he would have to cross two streets on the way. It was silly to remain hidden like this, but something told him not to walk down the street. He peeked around the bushes and looked for anything out of place. Darkness covered the alley across the way.
Charlie hurried across the street and into the alley. He was halfway through to the next block before he realized his error…now he would have to pass by the Lynch house. There were dogs in several of the yards he passed and they seemed to sense his presence. Please, don’t bark, Charlie thought. Betsy would certainly freak out.
There was a pile of messy garbage cans by the back gate to the Lynch house and Charlie skirted them carefully. He didn’t hear a dog, and he thought the Lynch family had one…but there were sounds up near the house. Okay, he had to look even though he just ought to sail on by. He approached the gate and put his eye to a crack between the boards.
Across the yard by the back porch there was a pool of light by the door. He counted six boys, two backpacks, a hose and lots and lots of balloons. Jeff had been right, his brother was an ass. The boys were trying to be quiet and yet they were laughing like a bunch of drunken fools as they filled the balloons with water…had they been drinking?
Charlie heard one of them belch and then watched him take a drink from a beer can that had been sitting on the steps. The boy crushed the can and tossed it in the yard.
“No, you idiot…my dad will find that. Go put it in the trash can out in the alley, and pick up the others on your way.”
Alley? Oh Shit. Charlie pulled back from the fence and hurried across the alley towards the garage wall about ten feet away. He had just ducked for cover when the gate opened and a boy appeared, dumping a handful of beer cans into one of the trash barrels.
Charlie waited but he didn’t hear the gate slam shut and he had to risk a peek. The boy hadn’t shut the gate and they might see him when he left his hiding place. It was a risk he would have to take and so Charlie stepped back into the alley…and heard the growl.
The bulldog wasn’t very large, but it looked mean. Anything to do with the Lynch family had to be mean and ugly. The dog gave one short bark and charged through the opening. Charlie didn’t think, he just reacted, and leapt up on a wooden crate sitting by the garage wall. And then several things happened at once.
Charlie felt the ball of fur around his neck go rigid, and then Betsy clawed her way out of the hood and down the front of his robe. She reached the ground and assumed the attack position: back arched, hair standing on end and a terrifying yowl emanated from her throat.
“Shit, Carson…you left the gate open and the dog got out.”
The bulldog was almost across the alley when he spotted the cat standing in his way and put on the brakes. Charlie watched as Betsy leapt at the dog, claws out in full destructive mode. Her yowl became a scream of blood lust as she hit the dog…or where the dog would have been if he had stayed to fight.
Cowardice seemed a better choice at the moment and the dog turned to scurry back into the yard. Betsy landed and sat down to clean her paws, fully satisfied at the results of her actions. Then Carson reached the gate and he stopped dead in his tracks and stared, before screaming and slamming the gate shut.
Charlie didn’t stick around to find out what that was all about. He grabbed Betsy and hurried into the darkness down the alley. He could hear excited chatter behind him.
“Death is out there, I tell you…I saw it,” Carson yelled. “It was floating in midair.” That comment was followed by raucous laughter since no one believed a word of it.
Charlie remembered jumping up on the box as Betsy leapt down. The lights from the yard behind him were on and he had cast a huge shadow on the garage wall. That and Carson being such an idiot had scared the boy…Good.
So the water balloons would be flying. Perhaps he’d better approach Brian’s house from the other direction. Charlie turned left at the end of the alley and walked over two blocks. Kids and their parents were out on the streets everywhere. Betsy was snuggled back in the hood, so content with her actions that she was now purring.
The street was lined with decorated houses and kids standing on porches to receive their treats, perhaps he should start collecting his own, Charlie thought. But then he would have to lug the weight around…maybe later, there was still plenty of time.
He didn’t get over to this part of the neighborhood very often so he didn’t know many of the people who lived here. One house about halfway down the block caught his eye because the yard was filled with decorations and there was a line of kids on the steps. He stopped by the gate and stared…was that Little Zelda standing on the porch?
Charlie entered the yard, ignoring all the little kids as he approached the porch. Yes, a very life sized image of Zelda was standing behind the railing. That was so cool. He didn’t think anyone had the same fascination with the comic book character, but this was just awesome.
There was a man wearing a tuxedo standing at the open doorway passing out the candy. The character of Mr. Spriggs in the comic wore a tuxedo all the time, and Charlie joined the line moving up the stairs. He caught the glances from the other kids who seemed a little wary about his presence. But the man in the doorway smiled at everyone, and then Charlie reached the front of the line.
“My, my…don’t you look deadly in that costume,” the man said. “You must be the Grim Reaper.”
Charlie heard that but his eyes were fixated on the entrance hall. There was a large drawing of Little Zelda hanging on the wall, and the man seemed to notice Charlie’s focus.
“That’s Craig’s work…Little Zelda. Do you know about her?”
“I have every one of her comic books,” Charlie said.
The man laughed and turned to the stairway leading up to the second floor.
“Craig…you better come down here, your biggest fan is at the door.”
“I can’t…I’m busy,” Came the reply.
“He’s busy. I’m Nelson by the way. Say, why don’t you go right on up the stairs and scare the hell out of Craig. Tell him to come on down, I could use the help.”
“Should I…?” Charlie asked.
“Sure, have some fun,” Nelson said.
“Hey mister, you gonna talk all night or can we have some candy?”
Nelson looked down at the two little kids in rabbit costumes while Charlie looked up the stairs. This was a stranger’s house, he shouldn’t be doing this. But a chance to meet Craig Lawrence the creator of Little Zelda, he couldn’t pass that up so he began to climb the steps.
The hallway at the top of the stairs was dark, but at the end was a doorway and a room filled with strange blue light. Charlie approached cautiously and stood in the doorway. The room was filled with drawings pinned to the walls, and in the middle was a drawing table where a man sat hunched over working on something.
“Come in…I can hear you,” the man said.
“Uh…Mr. Lawrence?” Charlie asked.
The man lay down his pen, swiveled around on the stool, and Charlie flinched. They looked at one another and then Charlie began to laugh, as did the man. They were both wearing the white face with almost identical markings. Charlie tossed back his hood which disturbed Betsy and she stood up, digging her claws into the robe as she stretched.
“Wow…the cat is a nice touch. Wish I had thought of that. I’m Craig, but I guess you know that.”
“I’m Charlie…and this is Betsy.”
“Did I hear Nelson say you’re a Zelda fan?”
“I have every one of the comic books…all seventy-four of them,” Charlie said. “I bought the first one in June six years ago.”
Craig’s eyebrows went up. “You remember the month, why…no, how old were you?”
“I had just turned six, but I remember because that was the month my father died. He gave me three dollars to go to the drugstore so I could buy a comic book…then he drove away and never came back. I bought the first Little Zelda that day…how could I forget?”
“I’m so sorry,” Craig said. “I don’t know what to say when people tell me sad things like this.”
“That’s okay, I moved beyond the sad part,” Charlie said.
Craig stood up and put a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “What a brave young man…” And then Betsy looked up at Craig and started to purr.
“Wow, she likes you, that’s good. It usually takes a while for her to warm up to strangers,” Charlie said.
“Cats and I just seem to get along,” Craig said.
“I didn’t know you guys lived here.”
“Nelson and I have only been here about five months. I can work anywhere in my business, and it doesn’t matter to Nelson either. Newton Falls just seems like a nice quiet town…so friendly, so accepting.”
Charlie got it…Craig and Nelson were partners, gay partners…cool.
“I have a gay friend, at least I think he’s gay…but he’s only eleven. Um…I don’t know what I am.”
Craig smiled and squeezed Charlie’s shoulder. “Do you always have to be something?”
Charlie nodded. “Can I show you a secret?” And without waiting for an answer he pulled apart the Velcro holding his robe shut. Betsy leapt onto the work table as the robe fell, leaving Charlie standing there in his black dress.
“I wanted to go out tonight as Zelda but my mother said boys can’t be witches. I like the dress…it makes me feel sexy. I think that makes me a cross dresser.”
Craig plopped back down on the stool and began to scratch Betsy behind the ears as his eyes appraised Charlie in the dress.
“I think your mother is right, but only because she’s trying to keep you from harm. Wearing a dress doesn’t make you gay…it’s only a dress. If it makes you feel good then fine, but I think it makes you feel closer to Zelda and she’s hardly a sexy character…I ought to know.
“Zelda was created because too many young girls seem to think that they have to be sexy to be popular. I wanted a character that could be smart and funny, popular and…well, anything but sexy. I didn’t know there would be any boys who would enjoy the books, but I was wrong.”
Craig walked over to a file cabinet and opened the drawer. He pulled out a folder that was about two inches thick.
“I get all kinds of letters about Zelda, and as you would guess most of them from girls…but these are all from boys.”
“Really?” Charlie said. “Awesome.”
“Yeah, I think so too. Some of these boys think it would be cool to be Zelda for a variety of reasons, and some of the boys tell me they are gay…boys your age. So you see you aren’t alone with these feelings, you’ll never be alone. Just don’t rush into making any decisions. You have plenty of time before you need to think about being sexy.”
“I…I never met any gay adults before,” Charlie said.
“Now you know me, and Nelson. We’ve been partners for eight cen…years, and those have been very happy years,” Craig said. “But I would like to know you better, and perhaps we can have a friendship that works for both of us.”
“I don’t know what my mother would say about a friendship with gay guys…I don’t think she’d approve.”
“Then how about a business relationship? You know, I’ve been drawing these comics for over six years…that’s a lot of work. In fact, I’m running out of ideas for Zelda, and when I do she’ll disappear.”
“Oh no, you can’t do that,” Charlie said.
“Meow,” Betsy said.
Craig smiled at the cat. “I guess she agrees with you. Then you’ll have to help me keep Zelda alive.”
“Me? What can I do?”
“Tell me about your life,” Craig said. “I need to know what goes on in your school, things about your friends. I’ve been out of school for so long I can’t remember all the details, and I’m sure they’ve changed. If Zelda is going to remain popular I need to know things like that, and you can help me.”
“Like…like a consultant? You’re offering me a job?”
“Exactly…I’ll even put you on the payroll.”
“Craig…you better come down here,” Nelson yelled up the stairs. “We have a situation.”
“Oh yeah, I was supposed to tell you he wants help,” Charlie said.
“Let’s go see what kind of situation he’s in,” Craig said.
Craig led the way down the stairs as Charlie slid back into his robe. Betsy followed along behind, her eyes investigating every nook and cranny along the way. Nelson was standing on the porch with the bowl of candy and down by the gate was a kid dressed in black with a mask on his face.
Craig stepped out on the porch and Nelson turned. “He wants all the candy…or else,” He said.
Charlie stepped outside and stood at the porch railing.
“There he is,” someone yelled from the darkness beyond the fence, and a water balloon arced through the air and splattered against the railing. Charlie stepped back as several more splattered against the porch.
“I believe we have a situation,” Nelson said.
“Lynch…and his friends,” Charlie said. “Eighth graders.”
“Oh no, not the dreaded eighth graders,” Craig said with a laugh. “This calls for maximum defense,” he said as a water balloon splattered at his feet and across his shoes.
“The toy chest is now open,” Nelson said, and ducked back into the house.
“Come on down here, Charlie…we got something for you,” Lynch yelled. And with that Brian was shoved up against the gate and Lynch slammed a water balloon down on the boy’s head. Brian already looked soaked clean through and Charlie wanted to run down and save him, but then someone started throwing rocks at the house and knocking down the decorations.
Nelson reappeared with three plastic weapons in his hands, but Charlie had never seen anything like these before. Craig took two of them and handed one to Charlie.
“I called the police so we better get moving before they get here,” Nelson said.
“What is this?” Charlie asked, looking down at the weapon. It looked like a tube attached to a storage tank filled with liquid, but there was a switch on the back above the trigger. Charlie had a Super Soaker water gun, but this was different.
“These came out of the lab at work,” Nelson said. “Just flip the switch and pull the trigger…they work real well.”
“Nelson designs toys,” Craig explained, “and these are going to sell millions.”
“They’re kinda messy, we’ll see,” Nelson said. “Okay troops…attack mode…charge.”
Charlie had not had this much fun in his life. He toggled the switch and charged down the steps towards the gate to save Brian. Water balloons filled the air…but that was only water. What came out of the toy guns was infinitely more offensive.
Pulling the trigger lightly caused the gun to vibrate and a stream of goo shot out the end of the barrel. Charlie discovered the harder he pulled on that trigger the further the stream shot and the weapon seemed to have a range of thirty or forty feet.
Lynch and his friends had charged the fence to throw their silly balloons and so they were met with a torrent of goo that coated them from head to toe. Charlie was in the middle and careful not to splatter Brian with any of the mess. But Nelson and Craig hosed down the six boys standing on either side while Charlie reached the gate and pulled Brian inside.
There was a lot of screaming from the Lynch gang and that attracted the attention of kids and parents up and down the block. Not only that, a couple of patrol cars arrived and sat in the middle of the street with their lights flashing.
The battle was quickly won. In about fifteen seconds of firing Nelson’s experimental toy weapons they had overcome their opponents. The goo had come out of the guns white in color and quickly turned purple with exposure to the air. It was non-toxic and could not harm the boys, but it was going to be a bitch to wash off.
“Purple, huh?” Charlie said.
“Yeah, most people don’t like to be purple,” Nelson said. “At least it washes off…eventually.”
The cops turned their spotlights on the boys standing along the fence and someone in the crowd began to laugh. “Hey, that’s the Lynch boy,” someone said, and everyone laughed louder. That’s when Charlie saw Jeff Lynch standing at the corner of the fence and the boy gave him thumbs up, they were both enjoying his brother’s demise.
Charlie walked Brian back to the porch and Craig fetched a towel. Charlie gently dried the boy’s hair while Brian gazed at him with adoration in his eyes. Craig didn’t miss any of that. Well maybe, he thought…they’d make a cute couple.
Oh the cops had questions. They were interested in the goo and the water balloons, but decided throwing rocks crossed the line. Lynch and friends were the subjects of dozens of cell phone photos before being hauled away to face the wrath of their parents and have their purple faces photographed by the police.
Charlie looked at the purple mess in the yard and Nelson didn’t seem concerned, the goo was biodegradable and would vanish in the next rainstorm. By the time everything was done it was nearly ten o’clock and Charlie had to go home.
“Why don’t you come over on Sunday for breakfast,” Craig said. “Then we can get started.”
“Okay, but you’ll have to talk to my Mom and explain,” Charlie said.
“I can do that. Thanks for coming by…Oh, but you never got any candy.”
“That’s okay, I got what I wanted.”
Charlie and Brian walked down the steps and looked back. Betsy was curled up asleep on the Zelda doll which had been knocked over during the battle. That was fine…she would come home when she wanted.
“So…they’re like gay?” Brian asked.
“Guess so,” Charlie replied. “We have a lot to talk about.”
Craig shut the front door and turned out the porch light. He stood in the hallway and smiled before the air around him shimmered and he changed. Nelson walked in from the kitchen, having already morphed.
“All right, Zelda…you think it’s safe having the boy over?”
“Certainly, Lucinda…he’ll never find out. I do need his opinions and ideas if we’re going to keep up this charade. My childhood was so long ago I can’t remember the details.”
“We could always move back to Budapest,” Lucinda said.
“Oh no, I’m not going back there. That was centuries ago and those people were not very nice to us. Besides, I like it here,” Zelda said.
'It’s the cat, isn’t it? You’ve always had a thing for the cats. She knows about us.”
“They always know, dear…but little boys don’t.”
“He is a handsome lad,” Lucinda said.
“I think our relationship will do him some good, help him grow up the right way.”
Lucinda laughed. “Perhaps, but then he thinks you’re a gay man not a witch.”
“Well, I suppose boys may not become witches but witches can sure act the part of boys. I’m glad we chose to be gay men this time around. Such an intriguing role to play.”
“Remember our agreement: no spells on anyone under the age of consent,” Lucinda said.
“The boy has his own little friend to dabble with so there’s no need for spells.” Zelda sighed. “I remember what it was like to be young and feel sexy…I envy him.”
“You haven’t been young for hundreds of years, and I’m older than you.”
“Maybe I can find something in my book of spells…maybe there’s a way to go back.”
“Impossible,” Lucinda said. “But keep looking. I’m going to sleep all thru tomorrow while the Christians have their day.”
“This is America, dear…they don’t have those rites here.”
“Sorry, I forgot…well, Good Night.”
Zelda waited for Lucinda to ascend the stairs and then opened the front door. Betsy was sitting on the doorstep and quickly leapt into her arms. Zelda ran her fingers through Betsy’s fur and the cat began to purr.
“We’ll make a good team, won’t we? You can keep an eye on the boy and tell me everything you see, doesn’t that sound grand?”