Monday, November 2, 2009
Halloween night is usually a busy one at my house. From the time the porch light goes on until the time the candy runs out, there will be an average of 160 ghosts, witches, Hannah Montanas, and ninjas walking up the driveway. Not kidding. Kids take Halloween seriously around here.
The rush is generally concentrated between the time we get home from our own trick-or-treating until around 8:30, at which time either all the children’s bags are full or their parents are out of patience. There are always a few stragglers of course, mostly the teenagers who are too old to want to be seen begging for free candy but too young to pass it up.
But even the stragglers are done by 9:30. I’ve never had a trick-or-treater knock on my door past that time. Until Logan, anyway. He knocked on my door twenty hours later.
Wife and kids were gone, which had left me in the enviable position of having both the television and the house to myself. I had just settled in to a riveting football game when I heard footsteps on the porch, followed by a soft knock.
“Trick or treat!”
Standing at the door was a pint-sized T-Rex. Styrofoam teeth jutted out from his head, and a long tail stretched all the way to the steps. Very impressive.
“Trick or treat!” the boy said again. He held out an orange plastic bag and shook it twice for effect.
“It’s not Halloween,” I said.
“Halloween was yesterday.”
This, I decided, was a new low. Not only did I probably give this kid a handful of candy last night, now he was back for more.
“Didn’t you get enough last night?” I asked him.
“Nuh-uh,” he said.
“Little greedy, ain’t ya?”
He wrinkled his brow at that, as if he were trying to decide if that was a compliment.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Well Logan, I think you probably have enough candy at your house, don’t you?”
“No. I don’t have any.”
“You don’t have any candy?”
“Nuh-uh.” He shook his bag again—please?
“You didn’t go trick-or-treating last night?” I asked.
“No,” Logan said. “I got dressed and went to Granny’s, and then I got sick. I yarked in my bag.”
It was my turn to wrinkle my brow, but he answered my question before it was asked by stating, “No, not this bag.”
“Oh,” I said. “Good.”
“Mommy says I can have a do-over. She says we don’t get much do-overs, but I think they’re the best.”
I glanced out toward the driveway. Mommy stood at the end and rested an elbow on our mailbox. She gave me a wave and a what-was-I-supposed-to-do? shrug.
“Most everybody’s out of candy,” Logan said, “so they gave me cooler stuff.”
He opened his bag for proof—two candy bars, a pencil, some glue, and a five dollar bill.
“Not bad,” I said. “Okay, hang on and I’ll see what I can find.”
The only candy left was the bounty my kids had secured the previous night. While it was entirely within my bounds to confiscate a few pieces here and there for my own use, I didn’t really feel right giving Logan any. In the end I came up with a small spiral notebook, two AA batteries (every boy needs batteries for something), a baseball card, and an arrowhead I had found near the creek.
“There ya go,” I said, emptying it all into his bag.
“No problem. Happy Halloween.”
Logan the tiny T-Rex bounded back down the driveway to his mother. We exchanged a wave and another shrug, and I stood and watched as he knocked on the door of the house across the road.
Do-overs. Logan was right, they’re the best. A way to erase all the bad and make some good in the process. His mom, however, was wrong. Do-overs are more common than she thought.
Every day is a do-over, I think. A chance to right the wrongs of the day before, to be better and love more and reach higher than the day before. Few things in life have brought me more comfort than that fact.
That no matter how dark my night may be, daybreak will come.
To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his new website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.