Cobwebs and Halloween

Batman, Spawn! Spiderman vs. Green Goblin!

Thomas grabbed a copy of each comic book that he did not have. He knew his mother would buy them for him. They were only 1.99. All the colourful scenes of action fascinated him and stimulated his imagination, almost too much, because he had cut himself out from reality. The uniqueness of each comic book absorbed him.

“Tom! What are you doing?” Mrs. Andrews said.

“Sorry, mum…”

He had thousands of things going on in his head.

Batman: “Why are you in Gotham, and how soon are you leaving?” 

“What did you say, Thomas? Are you listening to me? Put these down! You have enough comic books. I can’t keep buying them every time we come into this shop! Let’s go.”

He carefully put each one back in the same spot he’d got them.

Before he left, he made sure the comics were standing straight and looked untouched.

“I wanted those comics, mum.”

“I know, darling, but you can’t read comics all the time. Read other books, ok? They can be colourful as well!”

They continued shopping until he saw a Wolverine costume in a shop window. He went closer to see it, but his mother was pulling his arm.

“I want this mum,” he said.

“Darling… it’s way too small for you.”

“They have XL!”

“I told you I was going to sew you something special for Halloween. Do you not want me to anymore?”

Trying hard to sound hurt, she saw how his eyes were still fixed on the costume.

“A Spiderman costume…” Thomas mumbled.

“As promised, darling.”

Mrs. Andrews was a good tailor, but whether or not her talent would satisfy him was a different matter. Besides, she found the combination of red and blue horrible.

Thomas was six foot and in his late thirties with a patch of grey hair on the crown of his head. Sometimes when they walked beside each other, her arm around his (she was the only person allowed to touch him), people would think they were an odd couple. Her neighbours – the Clarks – were the most affluent family in the whole neighbourhood. They had a swimming pool. Their son Dean claimed to be Thomas’s friend, but he would steal Thomas’s money and make Mrs. Andrews believe that Thomas had spent his pocket money on candy.

 

One day Thomas went to Dean’s house for a comic trade.

“The wings of the vuu-ture!”

“It’s vulture, you idiot!”

Thomas was staring at the pictures in the book. Dean shook his head.

“I can’t believe what a loser you are, man!” Dean mumbled. “So stupid you don’t even realize that these are your own comics? God, am I talking to myself now? Hey, idiot!”

He grabbed the comic out of Thomas’s hands and looked him in the eye, but there was no reaction. He looked at Thomas’s big forehead and noticed the receding hairline.

“You’re so retarded, man…”

“I want it back,” Thomas said, reaching out his arm.

“Forget it! Who said this was yours?”

“I want it back…”

Dean smacked Thomas’s head, which led Thomas to jump up and scream. Dean moved back, stumbled upon his loose shoelaces and fell. Thomas fell on his back and started to convulse–his mouth foaming up.

 

Mrs. Andrews was preparing dinner when she received a phone call from the Clarks.

“Mrs. Andrews,” Mrs. Clark said, “I’m not going to press any charges because I know your son’s condition. But I don’t want him anywhere near Dean ever again.”

The whole village probably knew about the incident since it was the ‘Clarks’ who were affected. Mrs. Clark would hold this against her forever.

“I’m sorry,” was all Mrs. Andrews said.

 

Tears were dripping down her face when she was preparing the stew. She could hear Thomas laugh at cartoons on TV. At least he was ok, she thought. Halloween was only about a week away, and she was only halfway through his Spiderman costume. Every evening after dinner, she would sew until midnight. Customers were already complaining about her delays.

Thomas always stirred his stew until it went cold. And then, it amused him to lick the food off the spoon like a cat. Mrs. Andrews didn’t think of teaching him any more table manners. At least he was using cutleries.

“That’s dad, mum!” he said, pointing at a photograph on the wall.

“Yes, darling… Finish off your stew.”

She had wanted to take that photograph down, but she knew that Thomas would notice it. Everything in the house had to be in the right place so that he felt safe. At precisely ten in the evening, he would have fallen asleep while reading Spiderman or Wolverine – his favourites. Mrs. Andrews would come into his room to turn the lights off.

 

One night before Halloween, Thomas’s mother had finally finished his costume. She had never seen him any happier. He was jumping up in the air, singing.

“Spiderman! Spidermaaaan!”

She was happy with her work and the nylon material that she used to create the costume.

It was stretchy but still looked a little bit tight on him around the belly.

“Don’t get too excited, darling!” she said.

There was sweat on his forehead already.

“Calm down!” she said.

He carried on singing and jumping against the walls, which got Mrs. Andrews nervous. He started choking on his laughter, coughing heavily. She forced him to sit down and rubbed his back gently.

“I told you…listen to me, Thomas! Now take your medicine and go to sleep, ok?”

 

On the following day, his excitement was still up the roof, and he wouldn’t eat breakfast. He was wearing his Spiderman costume at the table, reading The Coming of the Hulk. Mrs. Andrews was catching up on all her customers’ requests and didn’t have the time to go trick-or-treating with him. So, she asked some of her co-workers if Thomas could join their kids.

 

It was already dark when Thomas and his new friend Dave got to their first house. An old lady opened the door, and before Dave could say anything, Thomas shouted,

“Trick-o-treaties!”

The old lady looked irritated but still handed out some chocolate bars. They bumped into Dean on their way to the next house. He was dressed up as the Green Goblin – a purple cloak and a purple hat. His face was painted green.

“Hi, guys!”

“Hi, Dean…” Dave said.

Suddenly, Thomas jumped back and extended both arms at Dean as if trying to shoot webs from his wrists.

“Oh, dear…” Dave mumbled.

“Can I borrow him for a while?” Dean said.

“Help yourself.”

They were on their way to Dean’s house because he promised Thomas to return his comics. During their walk, Thomas continued shooting imaginary cobwebs at the Green Goblin. There was only spit dripping down Thomas’s mouth.

Dean remained quiet and looked around. Just before they had reached his house, Dean stopped in the middle of the empty path.

Seconds later, screaming kids in costumes came out of the bushes and charged at Thomas. Dean watched as they hit Thomas in the head, kicked him in the stomach and spat on him, calling him names.

Thomas curled his face in pain but didn’t scream; instead, he continued shooting those imaginary cobwebs.

Dean’s body turned cold.

The kids stopped when Thomas stopped moving. They grinned at Dean before running away. Dean moved closer to the beaten body–the mouth still foaming. But the eyes were staring right at him. One arm lifted, the wrist stretched, but no webs came out.

 

by P-chan (c) 2005

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