Here’s a Halloween story about two brothers
who encounter some creepy clowns Halloween night.
Brayden Norwood and his little brother were stuck at home on Halloween, forced to answer the doorbell and give out candy to the little kids. Conner had to miss a trick-or-treat party at his middle school. Brayden had to miss Jared’s Halloween Birthday party. All this because their folks had to rush to the hospital to see grandma. She’d fallen that afternoon, again. She wouldn’t move from her home where she lived by herself, even though it was obvious that she would be better off living in one of those senior housing communities that were opening up in the area. She needed to have someone who could be available to assist her and check on her during the day.
It was after eight p.m. and the number of kids coming to the door had lessened to the point that Brayden was ready to call it an evening so he turned off the porch light. That was the signal that there wasn’t any more candy to be handed out.
“That does it, Conner,” he called out. “We’re done giving away candy.”
“Cool, what’s left is for me!” his little brother shouted.
“As if!” Brayden replied. “Mom will be the arbiter of the leftover candy.”
“What’s that mean? Are-bitter?” Conner asked as he walked into the living room.
“An arbiter (he spelled it out) is the person who decides how to distribute something. In this case, the leftover candy.”
“Oh. So I suppose all I’m gonna get is learning another fancy new word? That doesn’t seem fair, especially on Halloween,” Conner complained, but he grinned, too.
“Just think, you can go to school tomorrow and impress the girls with a word they probably don’t know. And you can tell them what it means.”
“I’ll bet Mom lets me bring some candy to school, too.”
“I’m sure she will.”
“Bray, can I have some now? Please?”
“Okay. Seems like three or four pieces should be enough. Okay?”
“Okay. Especially since I’ve eaten maybe twenty of those mini candy bars already.”
“Yeah, I noticed. You eat too much candy and you’ll get fat.”
“As if! Everybody says I’m too skinny.”
“You’re the right weight for an eleven-year-old boy your height.”
“Thank you, Doctor Oz.”
“I gotta take a leak,” Brayden announced. “Don’t answer the door if someone rings the doorbell. Got it?”
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t answer the door. I got it.”
Brayden headed upstairs to the bathroom between the two brothers’ bedrooms. He needed to do a little more than just take a leak, and he wanted the privacy of that bathroom. He made sure both doors were locked, and took care of his needs. After washing his hands and unlocking both doors he heard the doorbell.
“I’ll get it,” he heard Conner call out.
He heard some shouting, and a loud POP sound, and Conner screaming. Brayden ran through his bedroom into the upstairs hall. He heard loud male voice over Conner’s shrieking.
“You go upstairs and check the bedrooms. Look for jewelry and money. I’ll check around down here.”
A younger voice replied, “Okay.” Then someone was running up the stairs. All Brayden could think about was that Conner had been shot, but he was alive because he was still screaming.
Brayden closed and locked his bedroom door and the bathroom door on Conner’s side. He opened his closet and pulled out his hunting crossbow and slung the quiver of arrows across his neck and shoulder. He and his dad went small game and duck hunting with crossbows, and he trained at the crossbow range. A crossbow required extensive training and accuracy — Brayden had both.
He put the crossbow pointing down with the foot stirrup on the floor, put his foot in the stirrup to hold the crossbow steady, then pulled the straps until the strings clicked into place and the crossbow was cocked. He pulled out a twenty-two-inch arrow and inserted it into the track. Lifting the crossbow into carrying position, angled off to the side, he released the safety.
Brayden carefully unlocked and cracked open his bedroom door. He heard someone down the hall in his parents’ bedroom, so he tiptoed to the bedroom door. He was glad the hall and bedrooms were carpeted; that made his approach to the master bedroom silent.
There was a guy in one of those creepy clown masks going through the dresser, standing sideways to where Brayden stood in the doorway. Brayden lifted the crossbow into position, aimed at the guy’s right leg, and pulled the trigger. The arrow struck the guy before he could register the sound of the crossbow firing. He collapsed on the floor, moaning. Brayden quickly closed the bedroom door to keep the guy downstairs from hearing anything. He saw that the arrow had gone through the guy’s right thigh and partway into his left thigh. There was lot of blood; he hoped he hadn’t hit a femoral artery. But if he had, so be it.
He stepped over to the guy and pulled off the clown mask. He was a kid who looked to be about Brayden’s age, sixteen or so. He was crying, and his completion was very pale. He looked like he was going into shock. That was good; he wouldn’t be able to call out to the guy downstairs. Brayden checked to see if he had a gun; he didn’t find one.
Brayden set the safety, cocked the crossbow, inserted another twenty-two-inch arrow, then released the safety. He carefully opened the bedroom door and checked the hall; there was no one there, so he stepped out and quickly but quietly closed the bedroom door. He walked to the top of the stairs and looked down. He saw Conner lying near the front door and heard noises from his dad’s home office. The front door was ajar, and Brayden wondered if there might be someone else outside, maybe waiting in a car for the two guys in the house.
He carefully tiptoed downstairs and to Conner’s side. He’d been shot in his right leg, there was blood on his jeans, and he was crying. Brayden held his finger to his lips and mouthed, ‘Don’t talk,’ then ran his index fingers from his eyes down his cheeks. Conner nodded and continued sobbing. That’s what Brayden wanted, so the guy in his dad’s office wouldn’t think anything had changed.
Brayden slipped off his tennis shoes, then quietly walked to where he could see into his dad’s office. The guy in there also wore a creepy clown mask; he had a gun pushed in the back pocket of his jeans. He was kneeling, going through the file drawers in the cabinet alongside the desk. His back was to the door of the office, so Brayden stepped into the doorway, raised the crossbow, aimed at the right side of the guy’s back, and pulled the trigger.
The arrow went through the guy’s back, through his abdomen, and into one of the wooden doors of the cabinet, pinning him to the cabinet with a loud thunk. The guy let out a scream, and Brayden looked around to the front door to see if anyone was coming in from outside. There didn’t appear to be anyone. Just in case, he closed the office door behind him and stepped up to the guy. Brayden saw that he was crying and moaning and hanging on to the top of the cabinet. He couldn’t move because the arrow was embedded in the cabinet door and several inches were protruding from his back, and if he’d tried to move or lost consciousness the arrow would pull out of his chest. The pain must have been excruciating.
He removed the guy’s gun, clicked on the safety, and slipped it in his pocket. Then he pulled off the clown mask. This guy was older than the kid upstairs, looking to be maybe between eighteen and twenty. He was having trouble breathing; Brayden guessed that the arrow had gone through his right lung. He looked at Brayden. He had tears running down his cheeks.
“Please help me,” the guy stammered, through his sobs.
“Fuck you,” Brayden growled. He was furious. “You shot an eleven-year-old kid for no reason. Enjoy the pain. You deserve every second of it.” Brayden was surprised that he actually said that. But, like the kid upstairs, so be it.
Brayden picked up the phone on his dad’s desk. The line was dead; they must have cut the phone lines. So he pulled out his cellphone and dialed 9-1-1.
“I’m reporting a home invasion robbery that’s in progress,” he told the dispatcher.
“What’s the address where this is happening, your name and age, your relationship to the address, and verify the cellphone number you’re calling from.”
He told the sheriff’s office dispatcher the information she requested. Then he added, “There are two of them in the house. One had a gun and shot my eleven-year-old brother in his leg when he opened the door; my brother must have thought they were kids trick-or-treating. I was upstairs in the bathroom when that happened and I heard the gunshot. I heard the shooter tell the second guy to go upstairs and look for jewelry and money. I got my crossbow and shot an arrow into him when he was in my folks’ bedroom. I came downstairs and shot an arrow into the guy with the gun. He was going through stuff in my dad’s home office.”
“Are the two men who are inside your house restrained?”
“After shooting each of them with a twenty-two-inch crossbow arrow they’re definitely restrained. They aren’t going anywhere or calling anyone. Please send an ambulance to take my brother to the hospital. He was shot in his leg. Send a second ambulance because the two guys who broke in will also have to be hospitalized.”
“You said one of them had a gun?”
“Yeah, I took it off of him, set the safety on, and I have it in my pocket. I’m familiar with guns.”
“Okay, I’ve dispatched a sheriff’s department cruiser and two ambulances. Please stay on the line with me until the officers arrive.”
“I can’t stay on the line. The guys must have cut the phone line because our home phone is dead. I have to call my folks; they aren’t home. They had to go to the hospital to see my grandmother. I’ll have to call my folks on my cellphone, so I’d be disconnected from you when I place that call anyway.”
“Alright. Lock all your doors and make sure all windows are closed. The officers should be there in a few minutes.”
“Okay, thanks.” He ended the call.
Brayden decided that checking on Conner’s injury was more important than calling their folks. Then he needed to see if there was anyone waiting outside who might wonder what was taking so long, and might come with a gun looking for the other two guys.
He walked to the front door and as quietly as he could he shut and locked it. He put down his crossbow and knelt next to Conner.
“I should take a look at where you were shot, okay?” he asked.
“Okay,” Conner muttered. “Where are those two guys?”
“One is in Mom and Dad’s bedroom. I shot him with an arrow and it went through both thighs. I might have hit one of his femoral arteries because he’s bleeding a lot and was real pale when I left him. The other guy’s in dad’s office. I shot him through his back and the arrow is embedded in one of the doors in the cabinet alongside dad’s desk. I think the arrow went through his lung because he’s having trouble breathing.”
“Good! I hope they both die,” Conner said.
“I know you feel that way, but we shouldn’t want them to die. We want them to be alive so they can go to trial and be sent to prison.”
“Where’s the gun? The guy who shot me is the one who went into Dad’s office.”
“I have his gun; it’s in my pocket.”
“What about the other guy? Did he have a gun?”
“I checked and didn’t find one, so I don’t think so. He’s not in any shape to use a gun or anything else right now.”
“I need to check your wound. I’ll need to pull down your jeans so I can see where you were shot. Is that okay?”
“Yeah, but be careful, okay?”
Brayden took off Conner’s tennis shoes, then unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans.
“Can you lift your butt up so I can pull your jeans off?”
“I’ll try. Uhh… no, my leg really hurts. Can you put your hands around my waist and lift me up off the floor?”
“I’ll try, but I’ll have to do it with one arm so my other hand can pull down your jeans.”
“Lift me with both hands. I can push my jeans down past my butt myself,” Conner said.
It took a couple of tries and some moaning but they were finally able to pull his jeans off. Brayden checked them for bullet holes and found two in the right leg, and set them aside. Then he checked Conner’s wound.
“Fortunately, your jeans were damaged worse than you were. The bullet grazed the inside of your right thigh. It’s like a combination of a cut and a burn. The bleeding has stopped. The bullet went through the leg of your jeans making both entry and exit holes. It’s probably embedded in the floor somewhere in back of you.
“Let’s get you up. I’ll help you to the downstairs bathroom and I’ll spray some antibiotic and put a bandage on your wound.”
When they got to the bathroom Conner looked down at his leg, then grinned and looked at Brayden as he sprayed the cut with antiseptic. “You think there’ll be a scar?”
“Probably not. It’s not that big a cut.” Brayden wiped away the blood around the cut with some cotton balls, then sprayed it again.
“That’s too bad,” Conner said.
“What? Why would you want a scar?” Brayden asked, then he realized why. “You want to show off your scar at school, don’t you!”
“Uh huh. The girls’ll go crazy over it.”
“You can’t take your jeans off to show it to girls.” Brayden said as he put a large Band-Aid on the cut.
“I won’t take my jeans off. I’ll wear shorts, and just pull them up, sort of like this.” Conner demonstrated using his hands to show how he’d pull the leg of his shorts up. He grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.
“You going to show it to guys, too?”
“Of course. The same way. There are a lot of guys who are hot for my bod, and they’ll line up to see me pull up the leg of my shorts. I could charge a buck each to let them see my scar. But it’ll be free for girls.”
“I told you, I don’t think there’ll be a scar.”
“They’ll want to look anyway. I’ll be famous!”
“Yeah, for a day or two until there’s something new for everyone to gossip about.”
“Huh!” Conner responded. “We don’t gossip at school.”
“Yeah, whatever. You know, I think you should stay here in the bathroom. You can close and lock the door when I leave. This is probably the safest place in the house.”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. That way if I have to pee I’m in the right place. And I’ve got my cell so I can WhatsApp my friends and tell them what happened.”
“I thought you didn’t gossip.”
“That’s not gossiping!”
“As if! Anyway, I want to go outside and see if there’s someone waiting out there for these guys to come out. If there is, I don’t want them to try to get into the house before the sheriff gets here. After that I’ll call the folks. I know they’ll freak and I’ll never get them off the phone. That’s why I want to check outside first.”
“Isn’t it dangerous for you to go outside in case one of them is hanging around? They’ll see you come out the front door.”
“I’ll go out the back door and around the side of the garage. That way I’ll be in the dark and they won’t see me. I’ll be right back. I’ll lock the back door when I go out, just in case.”
“Just in case what? In case they shoot you and try to get in the back door?” Conner asked.
“No one’s going to shoot me. There’s probably no one out there anyway. If they had a car it’s probably at least a block or two away, with the driver inside. Or maybe there isn’t a driver.”
“Be careful, Bray. And thanks for being here to stop those guys.”
“You’re welcome, Conner. I wouldn’t want to lose my favorite brother.” He grinned as Conner groaned at the rather lame joke.
Brayden returned to the living room to retrieve his tennis shoes, then verified that the guy in his dad’s office was still there. He was, sobbing and holding on to the top of the cabinet where he was pinned. Brayden closed the office door; no reason for Conner to hear the guy crying.
He set the safety and cocked his crossbow, loaded another twenty-two-inch arrow, and released the safety.
Brayden went out through the back door and around the side yard so he could see if there was a car waiting out front. There was. It was a white car parked right in front of the house, with the driver’s side door facing the street. The streetlight was directly across the street from the car. “Amateurs,” Brayden thought.
There was another guy in a creepy clown mask standing in the street in back of the car. The guy seemed nervous. He kept looking up and down the street and at the house. Then he pulled out a cellphone. Brayden stepped back so he could think about what he should do.
‘I’ll bet he’s going to call one of the guys inside and it won’t be picked up.’ Brayden thought. ‘Where the fuck’s the sheriff?’ But he knew the answer to that: the Norwood’s lived in the county, and the nearest sheriff’s substation was about eight miles from their house.
When the guy’s call wasn’t answered, Brayden saw him pull out a gun and start to walk toward the curb. Brayden lifted his crossbow, sighted through the night vision scope, and pulled the trigger. The arrow went through the guy’s right arm, making him drop the gun. He collapsed on the street.
Brayden reloaded his crossbow. Aiming it at the guy on the street, he walked toward him.
“Don’t move. Don’t fucking move. I’ll kill you if you move!” he shouted.
There was no movement. ‘Damn! Did I kill him?’ Brayden thought. He stepped closer and pulled off the guy’s clown mask. The guy wasn’t dead; he lay still on the street moaning softly. The arrow had gone through his right bicep and into the side of his chest, and he was holding his right forearm tight against his side. Brayden lowered his crossbow so it was pointing at the ground, picked up the guy’s gun, set the safety on, and put the gun in his waistband.
He suddenly realized there had been somebody sitting in the driver’s seat, because they were getting out of the car.
It took a few seconds to reload his crossbow and point it at the person who by then had reached the back of the car. It was a girl. He was surprised because he recognized her from school, though he didn’t know her name.
She made eye contact with Brayden, then slowly approached, holding her hands away from her body so he could see them, and when she was close enough, she knelt next to the guy Brayden had just shot. “Oh, Jesus! Trent!” She was crying, and looked up at Brayden. “Why did you have to kill him?”
“I didn’t kill him. You can hear him breathing. I shot him with my crossbow. You can see the arrow sticking out of his arm. I shot him because he pulled out his gun and was about to go into our house to see why the other two guys hadn’t come out yet.”
She looked up at Brayden. “What happened to Dean and Adam?” she asked.
“Are you talking about the two guys who broke into our house?”
“One of them shot my little brother. He’s only eleven years old, and that fucker shot him! I used my crossbow and shot both of them. Neither of them is in any shape to go anywhere. I called 9-1-1 for the sheriff and an ambulance. They should be here any minute now. You’re in trouble, too. I’m going to tell the sheriff that you were in the driver’s seat of their getaway car.”
The girl jumped up and seemed ready to bolt.
“I’ve seen you at school, so don’t even think about trying to run or drive away. If I have to stop you, I’ll shoot you with my crossbow. An arrow in your butt will keep you from getting away, and it’ll hurt like hell for a long time.”
She again knelt next to the guy she’d called Trent. She tried to hold his hand, but that caused his right arm to move and he screamed in pain.
Brayden remembered that he had to call his folks, so he stepped back a few feet, pulled out his cellphone, and called his dad’s cell number.
“Dad, you need to get home right away. Just listen to me. Don’t interrupt. The sheriff will be here in a couple minutes and I want to tell you what you need to know before they get here.” He summarized what happened in one long, continuous, sentence, so there’d be no pause where his dad could interrupt.
“Oh… I can hear sirens and can see a sheriff’s car and two ambulances at the end of the street; they’re about to pull up now. I gotta go and talk to the sheriff. I’ll tell them you’re on your way home and they can talk to you when you get here.”
Brayden ended the call, cutting off whatever his dad was about to say. He set the safety on and carefully uncocked his crossbow, removed the arrow and put it back in his quiver, and laid the crossbow and quiver on the ground in back of where he was standing. ‘Don’t look dangerous’ was an important mantra for anyone who had their crossbow out when law enforcement personnel were around. He remembered that he had the guys’ guns, so he put them next to his crossbow.
After the two officers talked to Brayden one of them called for support then went inside to see Conner and locate the two robbers who Brayden had shot. Another car arrived within a few minutes.
The EMT’s decided they wouldn’t pull out the arrows from the three guys. They’d leave that to the surgeons who could do so and take care of the wounds the arrows had caused.
The guy in Brayden’s dad’s office was a particular problem because the arrow attached him to the cabinet. One of the EMTs called the county fire department to rush someone to the scene who could cut the arrow without damaging the guy any more than he was already.
The EMT’s took the kid from the bedroom to an ambulance on a stretcher. They told Brayden that the arrow hadn’t pierced either of the kid’s femoral arteries. The first ambulance took him and the guy the girl had called Trent to County Hospital with a sheriff’s officer riding along to guard the two prisoners. The girl was put in a squad car to be taken to the county jail in Martinez.
While they waited for the fire truck to arrive, the EMTs checked the cut on Conner’s leg. They applied antibiotic cream and a new bandage, and told him to stay off his leg as much as possible for a few days. Conner grinned, recognizing that meant he’d be able to stay home from school.
By the time the fire truck arrived, Brayden had told his story to one EMT and two different sheriff’s officers. Then he had to tell it a fourth time, to his dad who arrived a few seconds too late to hear Brayden tell the second sheriff’s officer.
It took the firemen about twenty minutes to carefully cut the arrow between the guy’s chest and the cabinet door where it had been lodged. The EMT’s put him in an ambulance and rushed him to County Hospital. They told Brayden that the guy’s right lung had been pierced, and his condition was much more serious than either of the other two guys.
Monday night Brayden only got about three hours sleep because of the questioning and the stress of what happened. Conner got even less sleep because his leg hurt every time he tried to move to get more comfortable in his bed, and because he had nightmares about what happened. Fortunately, their dad told both Conner and Brayden that they didn’t have to go to school on Tuesday.
The boys’ mother had stayed with their grandmother until she could arrange for caregivers to be there for twelve hours a day. So, of course, when she got home Tuesday afternoon each of the boys had to tell her a full-disclosure description of everything that had happened. Their stories were the same, except Conner claimed that Brayden was a hero who’d saved his life, and then he argued that he should get all of the leftover Halloween candy because he’d been injured.
“As if!” his mother said.
“This is the last time I want to be at home waiting for trick-or-treaters,” Brayden said. “If there’s a next time, I’m not going to turn on the porch light so we won’t have to give out any candy.”
“I don’t agree,” Conner said. “If we don’t give any candy to trick-or-treaters then there won’t be any left over for me. That is so unfair!”
“Life is unfair,” Brayden commented.
“But I never get any candy! That’s what’s unfair.”
“You’ll get fat if you eat too much candy.”
“I’m skinny, Bray. I’ll never get fat.”
“Candy is bad for you. It rots your teeth and you’ll get diabetes.”
“I have great teeth and in health class we learned that diabetes is hereditary and no one in our family has ever had diabetes.”
“No one’s had it yet!” Brayden argued. “You eat too much candy and other stuff with sugar in it and you can get diabetes that way.”
“Alright, you two, stop it!” their mother demanded, ending the argument. “Candy in quantity isn’t good for you. Candy in moderation, a little every so often, is okay. That’s our rule around here, and that rule isn’t going to be changed. Do you understand, Conner?”
“Yes.” Conner said. Then, under his breath, he whispered, ‘I can still buy it at school.’ Brayden overheard what Conner said, but their mother didn’t, and he rolled his eyes and smirked.
“And do you understand, Bray?”
“Yes, Mom. Say, what are you going to do about the blood that’s on the carpet in your bedroom?”
“I called a company that specializes in cleaning things like blood. They’ll be here tomorrow around noon. They’ll also clean the floor in your dad’s office. Then I’ve got to find someone who can repair or replace the cabinet door.”
“What about the bullet in the floor near the front door?”
“When the guy shot Conner the bullet went through the front the leg of his jeans, grazed his leg, exited through the back of his jeans, and then plowed into the floor. I guess the sheriff’s officers missed it, even though I told them about it. Come into the living room. I’ll show you where it is.”
Brayden led his mother and Conner into the living room and to where he’d seen the bullet hole in the floor. He pointed to the scratch and the hole in a wood floorboard.
“See, the bullet came out of his jeans, hit the floor where it’s scratched, then into the floor here. It’s still there; I can see the end of the bullet about a quarter-inch inside the hole.”
Conner leaned down next to his brother. “Yeah, I can see it. If we use a screwdriver we should be able to dig it out.”
“We need to leave it alone and call the sheriff,” their mother said. “They need to see where it is in the floor and they need to dig it out. That way they can use it as evidence to positively identify which of them shot Conner.”
“That sounds right,” Brayden added. “There was an episode on CSI where something like this happened. But in that case they couldn’t find the bullet until they brought in lasers to trace the trajectory. We already know where this bullet is.”
“I’ll call the sheriff’s department and tell them we found the bullet and they should come and pry it out of our floor.” She took a deep breath. “Then I’ll have to find someone to fix the floor.”
“You know,” Conner said, “when that guy shot me it was attempted murder.”
Mrs. Norwood looked shocked, and thought about that for a moment. “Yes, it was, wasn’t it. I’ll mention that to the sheriff when I call about the bullet.”
“Mom, I want to see that those guys go to prison,” Conner said. “I’ll be glad to tell about what he did to me at their trial. Does it make any difference that I’m only eleven?”
“It’s up to the district attorney’s office, but since you were the victim, Connor, the one who was shot, I’m sure they’ll want you to testify at the trial. And Brayden as well.
“You know, all of the pre-trial stuff can drag out for months and sometimes for years. So you two should write down everything that happened. That way you can review it before the trial so you have your story straight when you testify.”
“Do you think there’ll be any problem because I shot the three of them with my crossbow?” Brayden asked.
“No,” his mother responded. “You were protecting yourself and your brother. You injured them, you didn’t kill them.”
“I guess because I’m a junior crossbow marksman it’ll help if they try to claim I was trying to kill them.”
“Bray, you weren’t trying to kill them, just disable them. They had guns, which are more dangerous than a crossbow. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
“Okay, Mom. I won’t worry about it. I guess I’ve been thinking about it because this is the first time I’ve ever used my crossbow to shoot people.”
He didn’t tell his mother how he’d thought ‘so be it’ if the kid in their bedroom had been shot in his femoral artery and bled out and died, and had the same thought when it appeared that his shot got the guy in his dad’s office through his lung and he was having trouble breathing. He was bothered by these thoughts. Maybe he could find someone he could talk to about it. Maybe his crossbow instructor, or his counselor at school.
Brayden went to bed Tuesday night and fell asleep right away. That was very different than not being able to fall asleep Monday night. Sometime later he felt someone shaking him, and he blinked open his eyes and finally woke up. It was Conner.
“Conner? Wha’dya want?”
“Can I sleep with you? Every time I fall asleep I have nightmares about getting shot by that creepy clown. The dreams were worst last night, but I’m having them again tonight.”
“You’re scared about what happened?”
“Yeah. Is it okay? I don’t think I’d have any nightmares if I sleep with you ’cause I know you’ll protect me.”
“What about your leg? Isn’t it still hurting? I might bump it if you’re in bed with me.”
“I’ll sleep on the right side of the bed. That way that leg won’t be near you.”
Brayden scooted over to the left side of the bed, then pulled down the blanket and sheet on the right side so Conner could get in.
“Do you want the sheet by itself or the sheet and the blanket?” Brayden asked.
“Both. I’d be cold without the blanket.”
Brayden carefully pulled the sheet then the blanket over Conner. “Is this okay?”
“Uh huh. Thanks, Bray. You’re the best.”
Both boys fell asleep and slept through the night.
When Brayden woke the next morning Conner was awake and grinning at him.
“You got a stiffy, Bray.” Conner started laughing.
“I’ll bet you got one, too!” Brayden reached down trying to grab Conner’s crotch, but Conner jumped out of bed and ran through the bathroom into his bedroom and closed the door.
Brayden got up and went into the bathroom. He pounded on the door to Conner’s bedroom and shouted, “Mine’s bigger than yours!” and started laughing.
“That’s mean!” he heard Conner say.
Brayden locked the bathroom door to Conner’s bedroom, showered, and brushed his teeth. He went downstairs to the kitchen. Conner was there eating some cereal. He stuck out his tongue at Brayden.
“What’s going on?” their mother asked.
“He’s just being silly,” Brayden responded.
“I was sleeping with Bray in his bed last night. I want to sleep with him because it makes me feel safe, and I didn’t have the nightmares I had Monday night.”
“Bray, is that alright?” she asked.
“Yeah, it is. As long as he doesn’t wake me up before my alarm goes off.”
“Conner, do you agree with no waking Bray before his alarm?”
“Yes, Mom. That’s okay with me.”
“As long as Bray is willing, that’s fine.”
Conner continued to sleep with Brayden until the Saturday before the Thanksgiving break.
It was almost seven months before the trials of what the TV newscasts and the newspapers had called “The Three Creepy Clowns Caper” got underway. Brayden hated the name because it made it sound almost like something funny, which it wasn’t. Conner liked what they called it because he said it was ‘rhymey’ sounding.
The two guys who were adults were tried together. The shooter was convicted of felony attempted murder and felony first-degree burglary. His sentence was nineteen years in prison. The guy at the car with the gun was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony first-degree burglary, and accessory to an attempted murder. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison.
The teenage boy was charged as a juvenile with felony first-degree burglary and accessory to an attempted murder, and was tried in juvenile court. His sentence was six years in a California Youth Authority facility. He was sixteen, so that meant he’ll be twenty-two and an adult before his sentence was over. However, he’d be able to remain in the CYA facility until his full sentence was served. That surprised Brayden because he thought at eighteen he’d be sent to adult prison. He found out that for non-violent felonies and good behavior prisoners could remain in a CYA facility until they were twenty-four years old or their sentence was served, whichever came first.
The girl was charged as a juvenile with accessory to a felony first-degree burglary and accessory to an attempted murder. She confessed and her trial was held about five weeks after the home invasion. Her sentence was reduced to twenty-two months in juvenile hall for turning state’s evidence in exchange for a reduced sentence. She was sixteen and would turn eighteen one day after the end of her sentence. Kids in juvenile hall aged out as soon as they were eighteen, and were transferred to the county’s adult jail or to one of the California prisons, depending on their crime and their behavior in juvenile hall.
Brayden and Conner were the key witnesses at the trials. They didn’t enjoy having to give testimony. It was a real drag having to testify twice, once at the trial of the two adults then at the trial of the teenage boy. They didn’t have to testify at the trial of the girl because she had confessed.
By the time the trials were over it was August and school was still out for the summer. The Norwood family was having dinner when Conner made an announcement.
“Mom and Dad, I’ve been thinking about something. This year at Halloween I want to go to the Halloween party at Heather Farm Park. Most of my friends are going. I’ll need one of you to drive me there and pick me up after. Is that okay?”
“That sounds like a good idea,” their mother said. “As long as we’ll be taking you, we can take a couple of your friends as well. What about you, Bray? What will you be doing?”
“Jared always has a Halloween Birthday party because his birthday is the day before Halloween. I missed it last year, so for sure I’ll go to his party this year. I can walk; his house is only a few blocks from ours.”
“Those sound like good plans for both of you,” their dad said.
“You know, Mom,” Brayden said, “it means Conner and I aren’t going to be here to give out candy to trick-or-treaters. You and dad will have to handle that job. Just avoid opening the door to any creepy clowns. Or even better, leave the porch light turned off and you can avoid both candy and clowns.”
A big Thank You to Cole Parker for editing ‘A Creepy Clown Halloween.’
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