Hallow-eve was in the air of our town; children in various costumes, some scarey, some delightful and some with a bit of imagination, all were going to the Community Center to a nightly celebration in the atmosphere of the holiday. They were supervised by the mayor with a few of his staff and their parents, all in costume. It was a yearly event with decorations in the the rather large auditorium, with tasty refreshments, games, prizes, fun for all.
The costumed children passed by the old timers bundled up and were sitting on the benches on the green near the community center. The weather was not chilly and the old timers, eight in all led by the Old Major, a white haired gentleman of eighty-three years, tall and straight with a slightly bent back.
A child in a scarey costume and chaperoned by his mother said 'boo' to them and elders pretended to be frightened; a cowboy pointed his six shooters with a 'bang bang' and the Old Major clasp his chest and said he was shot; a wee fairy waved her magic wand over them and they bowed. The elders were delighted and amused with the sight of the various children's costumes.
Suddenly a boy with a skull mask and covered with black cloth snuck on them and yelled 'Boo Nyaah' and the elders looked on him with a surprised look. The boy laughed at his scarey move and then he moved on...
But the garrulous Old Major wasn't a bit ruffled by this scarey intrusion; he tittered softly and spoke up, “It reminds me when the Grim Reaper came to the town of Meadows and... “
One of the elders, the village postman past his retirement spoke up, “ There you go again spewing malarkey!''
"Tis' true, tis true!” answered the Old Major. As his dark eyes flared on his slightly wrinkled face and he was a bit annoyed. “If you be so kind and I will tell you all.”
"Do tell, do tell,'' echoed the chorus of the oldsters.
"Wal', it was some years back when a frail pensioner, name Barney, a citizen of Meadows township took his nightly constitution, walking carefully on every step he took. Suddenly a dark figure appeared before him. Barney looked with his thick bifocals at this 'critter' in black with a scythe on its left shoulder and in his right hand holding a hour glass. He exclaimed, "I'll be durned!" Before the gaping Barney could say another word the Grim Reaper called out, "George Roubles, George Roubles, I have come to lead you to the Enlightened Path to the Way Beyond!"
""Naw, ah ain't the feller y'want,” answered the startled Barney. Then he directed the Reaper of Souls to the Reubens' dwelling, as being a little deaf he thought he heard the Reubens instead of Roubles. 'Y'will take this h'yar road to the left, then take a right turn and the third house is the dwelling of the Reubens." He spoke with a chaw of 'baccy in his mouth which the Grim Reaper could barely understand. The shadow shrugged his skeletal shoulders and moseyed along to the relief of Old Man Barney.
Somehow the Grim Reaper followed Barney's direction and somehow whisked to the one storey dwelling of the Reubens brood. Unsure of Itself the Grim Reaper wafted along the path till he came to the front door and knocked carefully on the wood paneling. Suddenly a small ogre came out with a wide open mouth spewing fire and brimstone.
"”Wal' said the Old Major chuckling to himself. “Not an actual ogre, but a chubby woman rather short with a colored apron covering the front of her dress. She was the lady of the house, if you can call her a lady. Well, her facial features were hard to describe as her mouth was wide open, spewing words with a high pitched voice – 'We don't need any brushes' – 'We don't want your biblical tracts' – we don't want any magazine subscriptions' – and fiddling with her hand on her grayish hair yelled, 'and we don't want the lawn mowed'. Then she slammed the door in the Grim Reaper's face, but It whisked through the door into the entrance vestibule. Then the black shadow called out, 'George Roubles, George Roubles, I have come to take you...”
・Before it had a chance to finish the lady of the house, if you can call her a lady, yelled for her husband, 'Myron, Myronnn come over hereeee' and tell this man we are covered with insurance.' Aayah, the screaming rattled the bones of the Grim Reaper.
"A few moments later, Myron her husband made his appearance and soothed Tessie his wife. I'll handle this; now run along.” Myron was typical middle aged fellow, running to fat along his body. His laughing eyes and beatified smile under a balding head denoted his profession, being a district sales manager for the Bulova Watch Company.
''Myron looked quickly at the Reaper of Souls and noticed the hour glass in its right hand. Wal', in two shakes of a lamb's tail' Myron took hold of the black shroud, put the scythe against the wall and pulled the Grim Reaper to the living room. Myron pushed It on a comfortable armchair, stuck a cigar in It's mouth, lit it and if the Grim Reaper would have eyes they would water.
" Myron smiled at the Grim Reaper and began his sales pitch, 'I see you have an old fashion time piece,' indicating the hour glass. Well, in a flash Myron took the hour glass away and fitted a Bulova watch on his boney wrist. The good man adjusted the straps of the time piece till it was a perfect fit. 'There that's better. Now you can have exact time of day. That will be thirty-two dollars!'
・Before the Grim Reaper could open his yap and mutter an empty purse, Granny skittered from the kitchen and exclaimed in a shrill voice to Myron, 'Shame on you! Offering this poor man a cigar and swaying with your spiel. Shame on you! This fellow is nothing but skin and bones. I'll fatten him up!' Then she grabbed the black shroud and yanked the poor critter off the armchair to her hobby room, the kitchen, despite the protests of Myron for the thirty-two bucks owed to him.
"Granny was a no-nonsense woman who was happy to live in her daughter's house. She reached her eightieth birthday through her busy hobby of baking and cooking. Granny had thick spectacles covering her green eyes set on cheerful puffed up face topped with white hair set into a bun. Her rather short and pudgy body was always covered in front by a colorful apron.
" At the kitchen Granny pushed the Grim Reaper into a cane backed chair near a table laden with all sorts of scrumptious baked good – cake, scones, cookies, etc.. 'Tsk, tsk you're skin and bones.' she garbled as she fingered her thick spectacles, 'Getting old and me eyes are dimming. Never mind! Eat my good man, eat!' With speaking those words, she cut a hefty slice of raisin cake topped with thick chocolate cream. Then she jammed it in It's' mouth. The Grim Reaper wanted to raise a call and it found It's mouth stuffed with raisin cake and around his lips was smeared with delicious chocolate.
"Suddenly, with a clatter and a shout, the children of the family, twins a boy and girl going on eight years, burst in to the kitchen. They were full of life and quite mischievous at times, and they filled Granny's ears with questions – 'Who is this man?' - Why has he got funny clothes?, etc., Granny shushed them and offered them a thick piece of creamy chocolate cake of which they shouted 'Yippee' as a thanks for the delicious offering. Then the twins sat on the floor and messingly jammed their sliced chocolate cream cake in their mouths.
"When they finished the boy with a glint to eyes looked devilishly at his sister. From his pants pocket he withdrew a fire cracker and a book of matches. The twins giggled as the boy placed the fire cracker under the chair of the Grim Reaper who was trying to fend off Granny's attempt to force feed him with an assortment of baked goods.
"'Bang', went the report of the cracker, and with a woosh sent a small stream of fire and smoke. The children giggled as the Grim Reapers jumped from the chair, splattering Granny with cream chocolate cake shooting from It's mouth. Then the shaggy brown dog who was hidden behind the stove arose from his deep sleep, stretched his limbs and gave a 'Woof, Woof'..
"The Grim Reaper thought is was the 'Fires of Hell' that rattled his bones, from joint to joint. The Shadow Spirit sprinted from the kitchen to the hall with the shaggy dog after It. The dang 'critter' leaped on the backsides of the Grim Reaper and with his teeth ripped the black shroud where the 'ahem ' bones were covering. Then the doggy broke his run and curled up, sighed and finished his sleep.
"The Grim Reaper ran toward the vestibule, picked up his scythe and went through the front door onto the porch where it stepped on a skate board. The shadow went 'klippity klop' down the few stairs and onto the road and into a classic 1936 Studebaker driven by George Roubles. The good man, seeing the Grim Reaper was so frightened that his heart gave the last beat.
"The shiny auto swerved to right and bashed into a hydrant which spouted a stream of water into the air. George Roubles slumped on the wheel of the classic where the dripping Grim Reaper found him. It called with a gurgle to its voice, 'George Roubles, George Roubles',and and It took the hand of George Rouble's spirit and led it to the illuminated path to way beyond, albeit both were a little damp.
''Asyah,' interjected the Old Major as finished the gripping yarn. 'Well, the citizens of the town of Meadows lived to a ripe old age as the Grim Reaper was reluctant to enter the hamlet and lead the chosen to the illuminated path to the way beyond.''
"'Y'all full of what makes the grass go green telling such a whopper,'' voiced the village postman..
Just then a figure decked out with a damp black shroud and It's face masked with skeletal features appeared out of the void. It was shouldering a bent scythe and on his right wrist sported a Bulova watch. It called out, “Liza Roble, Liza Roble I have come to lead you... The Old Major interrupted the Black Shadow and gave the feller the right directions to poor widow Liza's dwelling' The Grim Reapers asked to repeat the direction which the Old Major obliged. It turned around revealing a patch on the shroud where the 'ahem' was covered. Then It whisked away calling “Liza Roble, Liza Roble....”