A Shot In The Dark

"Tell Mrs. Waverley thank you," said Tyler's mother with a gentle shove.

"Aw, mom," complained the boy, "it's an orange and I wanted candy!"

Tyler's mother was embarrassed. "What on earth must you think of us?" she asked with another shove, not so gentle this time.

"It's alright," said Emma Waverley, bending down and brandishing her fake, claw-like fingernails in Tyler's face. "Don't you know fruit is good for you, sonny?" she cackled. Tyler grinned.

"Thanks, Mrs. Waverley."

Emma looked at the bowl on the hall table. Three oranges left. Only three more trick-or-treaters and she could turn out the lights and go to bed. She sat in the rocker and kept an eye on the door.

"Hi, mom," cried Cheryl, waving her hand as the twins pressed their noses against the screen.

"Come in and take the load off for a minute, sweetheart," said Emma, getting up and moving toward the kitchen. "Want some coffee?"

"Sounds like heaven," groaned Cheryl, reaching for a mug. "You know, I'm always amazed at how you manage to get into the spirit of Halloween, despite what happened to Davey."

Emma sat down and watched the twins raid the cookie jar. Davey...her tiny, blonde G.I. Joe, who'd ended up one Halloween as a statistic in the unsolved crimes dossier...dead at five years old. The victim of a twisted mind that had dropped doctored candy into his little plastic pumpkin. Emma had wanted to die too, but then Cheryl had been born and rekindled the desire to live.

"It's been almost thirty years," sighed Emma. "You can't dwell on it forever, it would drive you insane."

"But still," insisted Cheryl, "to know it was someone who knew you...knew Davey. You only took him two blocks. It had to be a neighbor. Somebody putting on a false face, pretending to be friend." She shuddered. "That's worse than it being a stranger somehow."

Emma gave a sad smile. "The police believed it was random. A shot in the dark type of thing. They never thought Davey was specifically singled out. He was just unlucky. We've been through all this before." She really didn't want to talk about it any longer. "Anyway, sooner or later, what goes around comes around."

"That's what your wearing, Grandma," mumbled Rachel, through peanut butter chips. "A false witchy-mask face!."

Emma grabbed both children round the waist. "Not just any old evil witchy-mask," she told them, jiggling the realistic wart on the latex chin, "but Snow White's wicked stepmother!"

The twins shrieked and ran for cover.

Emma ruffled Robbie's fair hair as she put Cheryl's mug in the sink. "By the way..." she began.

"I know, mom," interrupted Cheryl. "I'll check it before I let them eat any."

"Everything," Emma insisted. "Wrapped or unwrapped."

"Of course," assured Cheryl. "I do every year. In fact, we're about to go get it x-rayed right now."

Emma nodded and gave the twins another squeeze. She pointed down the hall. "See those two bags decorated with black kitties?" The children nodded excitedly. "There are chocolate bars and a toy inside for each of you."

Cheryl hugged her mother and swatted the fat, hairy spider which dangled from the brim of Emma's pointed hat. "You spoil them," she said accusingly. Emma laughed.

"They're my grandbabies...I'm entitled to!"

Over Cheryl's shoulder, Emma saw Robbie pick an orange from the bowl and was suddenly acutely aware of the empty hypodermic hidden in the folds of her costume. "Give that to me, honey," she said, moving quickly and taking it away. "Those are only for the neighborhood children."

Emma stood in the doorway and, through the eye slits of her witchy mask, watched them drive off. That could have been a close call. She balanced the orange in the palm of her hand. She had probably given it out already...the one that mattered...but a shot in the dark was a funny thing and there was no sense in taking any chances.

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