“A Halloween party in November?” Jared asked. “That’s different.”
“The Mortimers always have the scariest Halloween parties, but they hate how commercialized Halloween has become. They say they like to keep their party separate from all the candy and the store bought costumes,” Carl said.
“I guess that makes sense.” Jared checked the calendar. “Things are a lot less busy now, too. I’ll come.”
“Great. Wear the scariest costume you can think of. This isn’t a kiddie party,” Carl said. “You’ll see.”
Carl came to pick Jared up on the night of the party. He’d grown a short beard and mustache and was wearing glasses with round lenses. He rolled down his window. “Tell me about your mother,” he said.
“Freud isn’t scary,” Jared said.
Carl pointed at Jared. “And your toga is? What are you supposed to be?”
Jared adjusted the fake knife at his belt as he sat down. “I’m a backstabber,” he said.
“Oh. That is a little scary,” Carl said. “Let’s go.”
Jared had never met Mr. Mortimer. Carl introduced him at the door. Mr. Mortimer looked rather ordinary and didn’t seem to be wearing a costume. Jared didn’t ask why, but he did think it strange.
Carl told Jared to go on ahead while he talked to Mr. Mortimer. Inside the house, everything seemed pleasant but normal. Most of the guests were dressed for a nice dinner party. There were flowers everywhere and classical music playing. Jared felt completely out of place.
Jared found an empty chair next to a rather large arrangement of lilies and rosemary and sat down. The man in the seat next to him, brown hair, brown suit, brown shoes, turned and smiled. “Hello,” Jared said. “I’m Jared Hombard. Who are you?”
“Hmmm,” the man said. He smiled a little wider and wrote something in his notebook. “Jared Hombard. Got it.” He looked up. “Oh, sorry. I tend to use gatherings like this for a little research. Can’t seem to leave the job at the office,” he said.
“What do you do? Are you a writer?” Jared asked.
“Oh, nothing interesting like that. I’m an auditor for the IRS,” the man said. “But enough about me, tell me more about you.” The man held his pen ready to write.
“I need to go,” Jared said. He wandered around the party, meeting a divorce attorney, a bill collector, and a local politician. He was avoiding his evil sister-in-law who really should be out-of-state and not at this party, when he bumped into Mr. Mortimer.
“Oh, sorry!” Jared said. “I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
“Are you enjoying the party?” Mr. Mortimer asked.
“Um, actually I think I’ll be going soon. I can walk home if Carl’s not ready,” Jared said.
“Don’t you live rather far away?” Mr. Mortimer asked.
“The exercise will be good for me,” Jared said.
“That’s true. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy my party,” Mr. Mortimer said. He clasped his hands together and looked at Jared as though he was trying to see something written on the inside of his skull. “To make up for it, I’ll give you a tip. Cut down on the sweets. Complications from diabetes is a terrible way to go.”
“Oh, are you a doctor?” Jared asked.
“No, I’m death,” Mr. Mortimer said.
“I’ve got to go now,” Jared said. He walked straight home and threw all the rest of the Halloween candy in the trash.
“So, what did you think?” Carl asked when he called later.
“That was the scariest Halloween party I’ve ever been to,” Jared said.