I’ve always loved Halloween. My family lived in the country, and so my mother would pack me up with a large paper grocery bag which would hold about three times as much as these flimsy plastic bags we have now, and then she would let me out in a large neighborhood. There we would meet my cousins, Judy and Mary Jo, and off we would go hitting every house with a front porch light on in a half-mile radius. By the time my bag would be at least half-full of treats and would be too heavy to carry, I would signal my mother waiting at the end of the street to come take me home where the real fun began as we poured the goodies out on the table. I would stare at the massive amount of loot in awe.
But as I grew up, I realized that times were changing, and so my husband and I decided to begin a tradition of having a Halloween cookout at our home for friends and family. We designed a haunted trail for the children to be led through where they could be appropriately frightened with scary creatures and unexpected surprises. There was a campfire for roasting marshmallows and plenty of seating to ward off the cool night. Our teen children and their friends would put on little skits or activities to entertain the adults, and all in all, it was a great time. The most memorable of these was definitely the first one.
As people had arrived, I was in the kitchen getting some things to take outside when the pastor from our church came up to me and asked who the black-haired lady was outside. He pretty much knew everyone in my family, and I glanced out the window and saw the woman, but I didn’t recognized her either. “I guess she came with somebody else,” I replied. When I came outside, the mystery woman didn’t say a word, but she had gotten into the swing of the party because she was dressed like a gypsy with her peasant style clothes and beads. Through the skits and eating, the mystery woman still never said a word, even when greeted by us and the pastor, who stuck out his hand and said, “I’m glad you could come.” She just nodded politely and turned away. Finally, after everyone checked around to try to see if they knew who the lady was, I noticed from behind that there was a small lock of gray hair sticking out from under her wig, and I immediately knew. It was a 70 year-old lady from our church, as a matter of fact a charter member, who is a known prankster. Although I didn’t give her away, I did wink at her and laughed to myself every time the pastor looked at her because he probably knew her as well or better than anybody else. To this day, I’m not sure he knows who the mystery lady was.
Everything was in full swing with people laughing and occasionally singing around the fire when out of the dark woods came this figure slowly and methodically walking up the grade. As the figure got closer to the light of the fire, we could see it was totally white, and we began to hear a low growl of a voice. Since this was something we had not planned, I looked at my husband with a questioning eye, and he shrugged as if to say beats me. The figure still said nothing understandable, but as he got closer, his arms swung open as if to grab someone when I realized our mysterious stranger was a mummy come back from the dead. The growl we had heard were the words, “I want a body. I need a body.” Of course, by this time, the younger children were scurrying around screaming in good old Halloween fashion, and even some of the adults looked nervous. By the time, the “mummy” got to the fire, he couldn’t contain his composure any longer, and I realized it was my grown younger brother, wrapped from head to toe in toilet tissue. Since I had been told he wasn’t coming, even I was a little shocked, which was a nice Halloween surprise for me. Everyone got a good laugh, and as usual the next words out of his mouth were, “Somebody feed me. It’s been a long time.”