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The first night of the Halloween full moon has awakened the players once again.
The county fair comes to town every year around Halloween with all that entails. Including fast food and treat vendors doted along the midway and between the rides and attractions. You can almost smell the corndogs and cotton candy out to the edge of town.
Sometimes the vendors push their carts around town during the day to pick up some extra business before the midway opens in the early evening. Down around the bus stops, train station, and even around the schools before the dismissal bells ring the end of the school day.
It’s a warm homey autumn feeling as the afternoon air grows crisp and the sun sinks lower in the sky pushing branch and leaf shadows across the ground in ghostly and ghoulish shapes. Today the cotton candy vendor’s cart is under the Lee street oak tree just across from the elementary school.
You can smell the sugary sweet confection and hear the animated chatter of the students as the dismissal bell rings and the children pour out of the front doors in clots, drizzles and clumps. Friday is coming tomorrow and they all are excited to spend the weekend at the fair with their friends and families.
The excited children and their parents stand across the street and wait for the traffic light and crossing guard as the aroma of spun confections starts drifting to greet them. The vendor twirls and spins the paper cones into enticing treats before their eyes.
The throng begins to cross the street in hops and skips, running and tugging their parent’s hands with great enthusiasm and energy. Like a cloud of hungry minnows to bread crumbs on the water they swarm around the cotton candy cart.
Gleeful and delighted shouts as the spun confection grows upon the paper cones, the air around the children shimmers and twinkles as colors begin to appear like magic on the soft sugary cotton balls. Parents pull their reluctant children past the vendor’s cart, the happiness turns to pouting, tears, and tantrums.
The cotton candy turns more colorful and the shimmering around the denied children it seems to be leaching the color away from them, “No dear, not now.” and soft cruses drift toward the vendor from the parents. Some parents relent and small delicious balls of white confection pass to the eager hands of the delighted children.
Unnoticed in the din and excitement of the swarming mass, the most colorful balls are stored inside the cart and smaller less colorful confections are sold. And like the receding tide at moonrise, the children and parents drift back and away towards their homes.
The vendor waits until the last stragglers emerge; those children keep after school for meetings with the principal or homework completion. The vendor spins and twirls the last confections as they cross the street, but alas, no sale is forthcoming. He continues to spin and twirl the cone, shimmering and twinkling lights wash over the last children of the day. All their color seems to fade away in the growing twilight skies.
The vendor’s cart winds its way through the town streets, passing playgrounds and parks and each time a child’s voice is heard, the cart stops and the vendor spins some more treats. Some sales are made, and the faint twinkle of colorful lights go unnoticed like the ghost of summer fireflies past.
The county fairgrounds seem cold and nearly empty as the vendor pushes the cart down the crushed gravel road, the soft and loud noise of the cart’s wheels reminiscent of bones and cartilage being broken and devoured by famished ghouls on Halloween night.
A lone figure seems to appear from the damp waning twilight mist dressed in a black wool cloak and cowl. The hem of the cloak and cape drifts noiselessly across the crushed gravel road. The faint haunting sound of cries of terror and despair seem to follow each hidden step, though some would say Halloween spirits play tricks on your ears when the night mists gather and swirl around.
The vendor pushes the cart past the cowled figure and they pause for a single step and acknowledge each other’s presence then move on. The vendor vanishes into the tangle of tents, kiosks, attractions, and rides that line the midway. The other simply seems to vanish under the harsh glare and cone of the main streets lights.
Friday afternoon comes and the vendor pushes the cart down the crushed gravel road towards the main street and then towards the high school parking lot, waiting for the afternoon dismissal and the throngs of teenagers eager to start their Halloween weekend.
The parking lot has drifts and knots of students, always hungry it seems for something sweet to eat. The vendor begins the rituals or preparation, the warm aromas of confection waft across the parking lot and towards the front doors.
The shimmer and twinkle are less intense here, an occasional aurora of soft pastel light surrounds a few students. The vendor spins the white cones around and round, drawing the color into the while candy balls. Some would say, some who claim they can see, high school students by and large have lost all their color of their innocence.
The late afternoon lingers on and the last of the students, athletes, cheerleaders and detention crowd filter into the parking lot to leave. The vendor prepares the last offerings, and waits as the trickle and cliques drift by the cart. He spins the cone slowly, teasing the confection ball larger and larger, only the lightest tints of shimmer and colors drift around the departing students.
A few stop and peruse the treats, always the faint derisives drift in the chill of the late afternoon, “lame”, “loser”, “freak”, no matter this. The most colorful balls are saved in the cart for those on the midway at the county fair tonight, waiting for the first second of Halloween night to start.
The vendor this afternoon does not delay, no parks or playgrounds as this is Friday. The cart’s wheels rattle and shake as if in anticipation of a night on the midway surrounded by children and mobs of all ages.
The vendor pushes the cart along the side of fair entrance road, among the walking families, and people arriving for activities and shows. Music, voices, and sounds become clear, aromas and smell that both entice and repel draw near.
Business is brisk this evening as the moon rises in the east and midnight approaches. What a pity and shame that the shimmers and sparkles tonight are faded and thin as the mist late at night. No matter this, the vendor makes his final sales of the evening, the spins the last of the faint shimmering colors into one final confectionary delight.
The lights and sounds of the midway diminish and the crowds retreat and move along the midway towards and parking lot and Main Street. The roadies and roustabouts, close and tidy up, they will retreat and rest for the evening soon enough.
The waxing of the moon is almost complete, as midnight approaches, the vendor and his wares will be waiting. The spirits gather round, and even death attends to enjoy a tasty treat spun from innocence it’s said. The colorful sweet confection is sugar and spice and everything nice, delightfully delicious for those who crave to consume real life.
The grand plan is complete for another year it seems, it is simpler to twirl and spin confections and steal innocence and happiness this way as the treats entice and parents pay. What’s left you see are snips of snails and puppy dogs tails and why some faded and colorless children seem to become uncaring, selfish, and cold of heart. Their delicious innocence and happy souls consumed without a fuss during Halloween’s full moon.
Donald Guadagni is an international educator, author, and writer currently teaching and conducting research in Beijing China. His publication work includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, academic, photography and his artwork. Former iterations, military, law enforcement, prisons, engineering, and wayward son. https://www.facebook.com/donald.guadagni.98/ twitter @GuadagniDonald
Published to the Kaidankai on February 2, 2022.
Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.