Not On My Patch
The Badfort Press
County Wicklow, Ireland
This story was written
for the UNICEF 2011 Hallowe’en Pledge Drive
and is copyright 2011 Diane Duane. All rights reserved.
During October 2012,
50% of all proceeds from the sales of this novelette
go to UNICEF. Thanks for helping!
Not On My Patch
Nita Callahan was standing by the dining room table, scowling at it and having second thoughts about the items laid out ready on it for her…especially the big sharp knife.
I don’t know, she thought. I really don’t know if I want to do this. But now that it’s here, I guess I have to.
She picked up the knife, toyed with it for a moment, warily tested its edge with her thumb… then looked for about the twentieth time at the thing she was preparing to stab.
The doorbell rang.
“Pff,” she said, rolling her eyes, for this had been happening all afternoon: every time she worked her courage up to do the deed, she got interrupted. Except maybe I think I want to be interrupted where this is involved…
“You want to get that one, honey?” her dad said from somewhere toward the back of the house.
“Yeah, no problem.” Nita headed for the front door, picked up a couple of trick-or-treat bags from the little table her dad had put by the doorway, and opened the door.
There was a tallish young guy standing there in a long plum-colored eighteenth-century frock coat that had with lace spilling out of the sleeves and collar. He was also wearing a tricorn hat jammed down onto a long dreadlocked wig, tight breeches and thigh boots, and carrying a silver plastic cutlass, which he waved at her jauntily. “ARR,” he said.
Nita looked Kit up and down, and finally had to laugh. “The mustache,” she said. “It’s crooked…”
Kit’s eyes widened and he reached up to push the stuck-on mustache back into place. “This thing’s stability,” he said, “leaves a lot to be desired.”
“So do a spell and stick it on that way.”
Kit laughed. “Waste a wizardry on this? Pass,” he said as he headed past Nita into the living room. “I’ve got spirit gum. Somewhere here…” He stuffed the plastic cutlass through his belt and started going through the frock coat’s pockets.
Nita’s big silver-haired dad came out of his bedroom at the back, just finishing the act of pulling on a pulling a sweatshirt decorated with flapping bats. As his head popped out of the neck of it, he ruffled his hair back into place and looked Kit up and down. “Cristoforo Rodriguez the Scourge of Tortuga, huh?”
“Hey, Mr.C. Yeah, more or less.”
“Looks good,” said Nita’s dad. “So how soon can we have this stuff off the table, honey? There are some other things I need to be doing here while I get ready for the slavering hordes.”
Nita sighed. “I’m working on it,” she said, and followed him into the dining room.
“That is one beat up pumpkin,” Kit said, looking at what sat on the table where the newspapers were thickest.
“Yeah,” Nita’s dad said as he went on into the kitchen. “I went over to that pick-your-own place between here and Uniondale: you know the one. I shouldn’t have left it so late, I guess—they’d been cleaned out of the biggest ones. All the pumpkins that were left were either on the small side, or lopsided or dented one way or another. Still,” he said, giving it a glance from the kitchen door, “this one has character.”
Nita was inclined to agree with him. The pumpkin was about a foot and a half across, and had probably been growing somewhere exposed, to judge by the dried-out veining all over the top of it. She ran a hand over the top of it, as she’d already done a bunch of times this afternoon, feeling the crinkly texture and reflecting that it was definitely more interesting than the smooth picture-perfect pumpkins she’d seen a few days ago in the grocery store but had gotten distracted and forgotten to pick up. More avoidance… she thought.
She sighed. “I guess I should get on with this,” she said, and picked up the knife.
The doorbell rang.
“Aaaagh!” Nita said. “This is never going to get done! And everybody’s showing up so early. I thought we were finished with the littlest kids now…” She went off into the living room, picked up the same pair of candy bags she’d picked up before, and opened the door ...