Andrea wanted to give out homemade toffees for Halloween; she objected to giving super-refined sugar to children. Instead Brian brought home several bag of store bought candy.
“I’m not giving away that crap.” She eyed the bulging bags like they were filled with genetically modified green beans.
“Maybe, we should make an effort to fit in.”
“Since when do you care about fitting in?”
He began caring during his recent evaluation; the principal cautioned him against teaching controversial topics like evolution and peace in the Middle East. Brian was one of those teachers who wore jeans to class, the kind who always needed a haircut; the kind that did not quite fit in.
“What about you?”
“Sometimes, I guess.”
They moved out to eastern Oregon when Andrea was offered a job running a free clinic. Half the town concluded she was an abortionist; but mostly she gave vaccinations. That is, when her confused patients could get past picketers waving signs that said, “It’s a child; not a choice”. Andrea tried to hand out the brand name candy. But the trick-or-treaters snubbed them entirely; the door bell didn’t ring once. After the silence of the previous night the sudden knock made them jump. Brian opened the door and Officer Beignet walked into the house.
“May I help you.” It was a statement, not a question. Andrea’s prior experience with Portland police left her feeling a bit burned.
“Just need to ask a few questions.” Officer Beignet handed Brian his business card. Brian tried to read it but became transfixed by the buttons on the officer’s uniform. He wondered when the impressive bulk of Officer Beignet’s belly would propel one of the buttons across the room. He lowered his gaze to shield his eyes from the potential plastic projectiles.
“What do you need to know, Officer? We’re happy to cooperate.” Brian asked from behind the business card. Andrea glared.
“You know the Jones boy from across the street?”
“We don’t know the neighbors very well.” Brian apologized.
“Yeah, I hear you two don’t really get along with folks ‘round here.” He eyed the prayer flags and batiks hanging over the windows and continued. “The Jones boy is in the hospital. He ate some candy that had glass in it.”
“Well, we didn’t have a single ghost or goblin.” Andrea crossed her arms over her chest.
“I find that pretty hard to believe. Kids don’t avoid candy on Halloween.” He walked over to the bowl still sitting next to the door. He nudged it with his boot.
“It’s just left over candy.” Brian looked at the officer through a glass he was pretending to drink from.
“No one puts razor blades or glass in candy anyway; it’s just an urban myth.” Andrea stood up to show the officer the door.
“You seem to know an awful lot about this Little Missy. Before you go denying it further, I am just here to get some information.” He sat down on the sofa like a man making himself at home.
Andrea grabbed the bowl of candy off the floor. “Here. Take it.”
But he shook his head. “Sometimes we get the hospital to x-ray the kid’s candy, but the radiologist is spending the next twenty eight days in Dundee.”
“Well, what do you expect us to do?” Brian, grabbed a Snickers from the bowl, crumpled off the wrapper and popped it in his mouth. He chewed the sticky wad to show the officer it was safe.
“We can just throw it all away.” Andrea held out a used grocery bag saved for just such a recycling occasion. Officer Beignet sat on the sofa, a still Buddha.
Andrea sat down on the floor. She began unwrapping candy, putting the wrappers in the wrinkled grocery bag and the unwrapped candy back in the bowl. Brian sat too, pushing Mounds bars directly out of their wrappers into this mouth. Before long Kit-Kats, peanut butter cups, Butterfingers, and Paydays — all piled naked in the bowl. Brian’s pace slowed as he started on the Peppermint Patty’s. Andrea ate M&Ms according to color. The bowl emptied, time stood still. Andrea’s vision blurred. Brian fell to the floor in a pile of foil and wrappers, his lips outlined in chocolate.
As Andrea ate the last piece Officer Beignet sat up straight. “All wanted to do is ask some questions. Instead I got a show. We think the ex-wife tampered with the kid’s candy. I’m canvassing the neighborhood to see if anyone heard anything suspicious.”
Brian groaned from the floor. Andrea ran to the bathroom.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’. I can only appreciate the lengths you two were willing to go to cooperate; most folks don’t go so far to help the police. I’ll show myself out; wait till they hear about this down at the station.”
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Portland Fiction Project
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