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Two boys decide they want to commit the ultimate prank at their Halloween dance but something more devious may be in the plans for them...
Origin of the Pumpkin Man by Charles Campbell...
Support us on Patreon http://patreon.com/IncrediblyHandsome
Two boys decide they want to commit the ultimate prank at their Halloween dance but something more devious may be in the plans for them...
Origin of the Pumpkin Man by Charles Campbell
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The Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee, Origin Of The Pumpkin Man
All Hallows Eve, LBC Middle School, 1987
What began in 1980 as an experiment became an annual tradition at LBC Middle School...The Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee. It was a day full of festivities, games and candy give-aways that ended with a student dance in the school’s gymnasium.
LBC stood for Langley, Bath and Clearwater. It was the middle school for most of the valley kids before they moved up to Midland Valley High. Raymond Mathis taught seventh grade science and drew the short straw to be one of the staff chaperones for the dance this year. Halloween was nonsense to him but he’d play along. He got along with the kids for the most part except for a couple of the boys in his fifth period class.
But, today was Halloween and it just so happened that it actually fell on a Saturday this year. It was still early in the day. Raymond didn’t have a costume and didn’t want a costume. But, he was never accused of not being a team player so he would head over to Party Dollar and pick up the cheapest costume he could get away with. Raymond settled with a seven dollar vampire cape equipped with fake fangs and a tube of blood jelly. The festival started around noon so he’d show up around ten to help the other staffers make sure the tables in the cafeteria were set up for the butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and whoever the fuck else needed a table at this bullshit festival is what Raymond thought. But, he’d think it with a smile on his face.
Butch Marker was one of those fifth grade boys that Raymond didn’t get along with. Butch, in truth, didn’t get along with very many authority figures. Since he went to see the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with his sister the year before, he fancied himself to be like Ferris. He wanted to be loved by everyone while pulling the wool over people in charge. Problem was a lot of kids didn’t like him and he really wasn’t fooling anyone. His best friend was Steve Vig and he was the follower. The boys hatched a plan for this year’s Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee.
“Hey, did you get them?” Butch asked Steve. Steve was nodding his bulbous head and smacking chewy candy between his teeth as he held out the bag. “Sweet,” Butch said snatching the bag from Steve. He peeked inside the bag. A Grinch like smile spread under his nose. “Hell yeah, you get them from Ricky?”
“Yup, just like you said. He had a bunch of them too. We gonna paint them up like you said?” Steve asked. His jowls shook as he nodded his head like a lunatic. Butch often thought Steve was the spitting image of a mini Boss Hogg, and he wasn’t wrong. He was a short, fat kid with a buzz cut so low that he may as well be bald.
“Yeah, we’re gonna paint them up. Come on,” Butch said and Steve followed him to the shed in the backyard. Butch dumped the cherry bombs on the work bench. There was a can of orange spray paint along with a small jar of black ink with an assortment of tiny paint brushes. Steve shook the spray can and the boys got to work.
As the early birds filed into the school cafeteria, Raymond helped fellow teacher, Cathy Fletcher, setup the gift basket raffle booth. This was a big draw. An assortment of gift baskets donated by local businesses and townsfolk. Some of them had very good prizes. Gift certificates to fancy (for the Valley) restaurants like Western Sizzlin and Red Lobster. Some fantastic fishing gear from Spradley’s Bait & Tackle. There was always a nice quilt with other handmade accessories contributed by Louise Utley. Baked goods galore in another basket. The gift basket raffle was a can’t miss and it was held at the end of the day when the daytime festivities would give way to the middle school dance.
“Lots of nice stuff this year,” Raymond said.
“Not bad at all,” Cathy replied as she pressed a push pin into the hand written sign. It read, GIFT BASKET RAFFLE, $1 PER TICKET, DRAWING AT 6 PM SHARP!
“Got my eye on that quilt,” Cathy said. It was Halloween themed adorned with bats, wide eyed pumpkins and sheeted ghosts.
“Yeah, that’s quite a prize,” Raymond said, thinking to himself what a crock of shit this holiday was. It was going to be a long day and he was dreading the dance. But, on the bright side, he wouldn’t have to do this again next year. No back to backs for faculty unless they volunteer and he certainly wasn’t volunteering for this flea circus. Although, seeing Cindy dressed as Elvira, complete with the dress, black wig and push up bra wasn’t exactly excruciating to look at.
The boys admired their handiwork,
“These are fucking awesome!” Butch announced.
“Yeah, AWESOME!” Steve parroted.
The little pumpkins with stem fuses looked back at them. Different black grins adorned their little round faces.
“They’re going to shit their pants,” Butch said.
“Yeah, they’re gonna run to the crapper!” Steve exclaimed, popping another one of those gooey peanut butter dog shit Halloween candies into his mouth.
The Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee was something the valley folks looked forward to every Halloween. And it seemed like all of the small towns that comprised the valley showed up. Raymond was assisting Cathy at the gift basket table. The line to buy raffle tickets was almost to the double doors at the far end of the cafeteria. He was tearing tickets, wishing this day was over. He still had a dance to chaperone and hiding the disdain that wanted to move across his face was becoming more difficult. Then, he saw two of his troublemakers poking around the tables.
Steve was dressed in a pretty decent Jason Voorhees get up, ala Friday the 13th Part 2, complete with the one eye pillowcase, which Steve would cut two big holes very quickly so he would stop slamming into people. He was the proverbial bull in a china shop, smacking his peanut butter dogshit candy under the pillowcase mask. Butch was disguised as a werewolf with a brown wig that was teased out to stand up high, black make up on his nose with brown smeared across his face. He had a decent set of fake fangs, a tattered t-shirt, ripped jeans and white canvas sneakers soaked in blood jelly. The boys both had paper grocery sacks for trick or treat bags. They were raiding the tables looking for candy and Raymond was trying to keep a close eye on the two of them.
“Raymond, eyes over here,” Cathy said. Raymond turned his attention back to see Mrs. Martha Jenkins holding out a five dollar bill. She told Raymond what baskets she was bidding for and he tore the tickets, took the money and dropped the stubs in their respective bowls. He glanced over his shoulder trying to get a location on the trouble makers but they were out of his field of vision.
‘You see turg burger?” Butch asked.
“Huh? What’s a turg burger?” Steve replied.
Butch removed his fangs and said, “Turd burglar. Did you see turd burglar?”
“No, didn’t see him. Where’s he at?” Steve asked, smiling under the pillowcase.
“He’s at the gift basket table with Ms. Fletcher. You see her bazongas?” Butch asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Damn it, no. This pillowcase is bullshit,” Steve said.
“Well, if he’s working the tables, he’s working the dance.” Butch held held up a hand for a high five. Steve didn’t see it so Butch smacked him on top of his head. Steve regrouped and hit the high five. The boys continued making their rounds. Seemed like there was going to be one helluva crowd at the dance. These fuckers will be shitting themselves before the night was over is what Butch was thinking.
Forty Five Minutes Later.
The kid was no older than six or seven years old. He was a fine looking lad with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. He held a pumpkin candy bucket and was moving with sugar fueled excitement to each table saying, Trick Or Treat, to whoever might drop him some candy.
Butch removed his fangs, nudged Steve and asked, “Who’s that little shit stain? I’ve never seen him in the valley.”
“Don’t know. Maybe he’s an Aiken or Augusta kid,” Steve replied, really paying no mind to the little boy.
“Look at him. He’s running all around like he’s got ants in his pants,” Butch said and a gleam flashed in his eyes. A gleam that Steve picked up on.
“So, are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?” Steve asked. The smile was growing under his mask.
“Yeah, he needs some special candy in that bucket, don’t you think?” Butch asked, feeling the bulge of pumpkin bombs in his pants pocket. Steve was nodding and snickering. May as well get the party started early.
Raymond looked at his watch and thought to himself, do vampires really care what time it is, but sure they do. They couldn’t be caught out in the stark light of day or they would burn into ash and blow away with the wind. The start of the dance was just under two hours away. He could see a lot of the middle schoolers milling around the cafeteria in their scariest and goofiest get ups. He didn’t see his two trouble makers. He thought he shouldn’t be too uptight about it but something wasn’t quite right. He would feel much more comfortable if he could put eyes on them.
“Hey kid,” Butch said to the little boy. Before the little boy turned to face him, the boy placed a plastic pumpkin mask over his face.
“Trick or treat,” the little boy said.
“Exactly,” Steve said and the boy looked to his left, held out his candy bucket and repeated, “Trick or treat.”
Steve was removing candy from his own paper sack while Butch was flicking a Bic as he pulled a little pumpkin bomb from his pocket. The kid held the bucket out to Steve. Steve had a fist full of candy and was holding it precariously over the bucket. The little boy was smiling under his mask. Butch lit the fuse. He felt a sudden adrenaline rush but fought it for just a moment. He needed the fuse to burn down just a bit. Steve was teasing the boy now, not dropping the candy into the bucket.
“Trick or Treat!” the little boy shouted.
Butch spun in front of Steve.
“TRICK, YOU LITTLE FUCKER!” Butch dropped the pumpkin bomb into the bucket and moved back fast. The little boy didn’t have time to say anything before the pumpkin exploded - the cherry bomb had enough force to destroy a mailbox. Candy and orange plastic shrapnel was sent flying. The boy screamed in terror. The tops of the four fingers on his right hand were bloody stumps of bone.
Raymond heard the ruckus on the other side of the cafeteria. His hair stood on end. The explosion followed by the scream of a child got Raymond moving posthaste. Other faculty members were ushering people out of the cafeteria just in case there was a shooter in their midst. Raymond knew it was those boys. Cathy ran to the cafeteria kitchen to call the police. Butch and Steve didn’t hang around to admire their work. The boys darted out the double doors and bee-lined it for the gymnasium. They were laughing all the way as they ran. The main gymnasium doors would be locked because it wasn’t yet time for the dance but Butch and Steve knew the janitors entrance and they never left it locked because half of them had lost their keys. They rushed inside.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” was all Steve could garble.
“Did you see that? Almost blew the little shit’s hand off! These fuckers are like dynamite!” Butch said, pulling a pumpkin bomb from his pocket.
“We’re going to jail,” Steve said as the stark realization of consequences overrode the joy of the prank.
“The fuck we are. Nobody knows it was us. They all ran to the kid as we scooted out. Let’s just hang out here until the dance starts. We’ll get lost in the crowd and finish what we started,” Butch said confidently.
“You think they’re still going to have the dance after that?” Steve asked. The boys heard sirens and it wasn’t just an ambulance. Butch knew the distinct tone of the Burnettown Police sirens because they had been called to Oak Street on more than a few occasions in his short lifetime.
“No way they are cancelling the dance. No way that’s going to happen. Let’s just stay here until it dies down. The janitor’s closet is the safest place to be right now,” Butch said, almost believing it.
The little boy was screaming his head off. Raymond took off his vampire cape and wrapped the kid’s hand, trying to apply pressure but not really knowing what to do with stark white bone and chunks of meat that was once fingers hanging from his hand.
“Where’s his mother?!” Raymond screamed at the bystanders. They all just gawked at the scene until paramedics and police rushed through the cafeteria. Raymond looked at the kid and said, “It’s going to be ok. I’m going to get the kids that did this to you. I promise and I’ll bring you all of their candy.”
The little boy looked back at Raymond, stopped screaming and spoke so calmly it startled Raymond into paying close attention.
“In my pocket,” the boy pointed to his right pocket with his left hand. “Get it out and eat it. Be the pumpkin man and...kill them.”
Raymond was shocked at the calmness in the kid’s voice. He heard the medics getting closer and he could see the panic return to the kid’s eyes. He reached into the boy’s pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag. It was a black bag sealed with an orange topper. It had green letters printed on the topper, PUMPKIN POTION. Raymond backed away as the medics took the kid away. He would be in Aiken Regional within fifteen minutes.
It was determined the dance would continue, albeit not on time. The police questioned the folks in the area and the folks gave descriptions of a fat kid with a pillowcase mask and another kid dressed up like a monkey or a werewolf running from the scene when they heard an explosion followed by a blood curdling scream. They did a cursory search of the school.
Raymond gave them the names of the boys so their houses would be next on the search list. They didn’t find the boys - they were tucked quietly away in the janitor’s locker in the gym and would stay there all night if they had to. They would only come out if they heard the DJ start playing tunes. Steve would take off his mask and Butch would remove the wig. Luckily for the two of them, there was an unopened bag of large size white t-shirts in the locker that belonged to one of the janitors. They ripped them open and changed their shirts. Butch removed the make up using soap and water from the janitors sink. There was a gallon of bleach under the sink that he used to clean the blood jelly from his sneakers as best he could. The boys could pass as hobos if the dance ever started.
The gymnasium opened its doors an hour late. Kids were lined up waiting impatiently and cheered when the doors opened. Raymond was already inside, waiting just inside the double doors. He was going to put his eyes on every ghost and ghoul that walked inside. The DJ was starting the show with everyone’s Halloween favorite, Monster Mash.
“You ready?” Butch asked when he heard the music kick in.
“Yeah,” Steve hesitantly replied, shuffling his feet. Maybe he finally realized that being friends with Butch wasn’t such a great idea.
“If we need to get out quick, light a pumpkin and toss it in the crowd, understand?” Butch asked.
“Yeah,” Steve replied.
Butch opened the door and the two hobos stepped into the back of the gymnasium. Kids were already dancing.
“Let me know if you see turd burglar, I want to give him a trick before we leave,” Butch said. Steve nodded his head but didn’t say a word.
Monster Mash gave way to the Munsters theme song. The boys walked around the edge of the gym. There were so many people, so many cool costumes. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, demons, princesses, every Halloween character was represented. There were even a couple of decent looking Freddy Kruegers.
“Turd burglar at twelve o’clock,” Butch said and nodded toward the double doors where kids were still filing in.
“Let’s just go, man. We can get in some real shit if we hang around. Let’s just say hey to a couple of kids so we have a...what do the cops call it on TV, abb-il-lie?” Steve asked.
“Fuck that, and it’s alibi, you moron,” Butch replied.
Steve felt a tap on his shoulder. He gulped and turned. It was Ms. Fletcher and Steve was getting an eye full of the bazongas he missed earlier.
“You two need to come with me right now,” she said as she reached for both of their hands. Steve, being enamored with the bazongas actually held his hand out before Butch slapped it away.
“We ain’t going nowhere with you,” Butch said.
Cathy screamed out at the top of her lungs, “RAYMOND, THEY ARE OVER HERE!” She grabbed for Steve since he was closest and caught the back of his t-shirt. It ripped, Hulk Hogan style, as he pulled away from her. Butch reached into his pocket and pulled out a pumpkin bomb. He was crashing into kids left and right.
“HEY! STOP!” Raymond was hollering, getting closer to the boys. Butch fumbled for the Bic. Eddie Hardee, seventh grader and middle linebacker for the LBC Lions, grabbed Butch around his waist and tackled him to the gym floor. Butch was crawling and kicking. The other kids were backing away. Steve stopped in his tracks. His days of getting in trouble with Butch were going to end here. Butch was no fucking Ferris Bueller and he certainly wasn’t Cameron. Fuck Butch.
Raymond was instructing Cathy to call the police. Eddie still had his grip but Butch wasn’t trying to free himself. Butch was busy. He lit the fuse and held it for as long as he could. Raymond grabbed him by the shoulder, trying to help Eddie keep Butch immobilized. Butch grinned as he turned to see Raymond.
“TRICK, TURD BURGLAR!” he screamed and dropped the pumpkin bomb into Raymond’s shirt pocket. It exploded immediately. Raymond’s glasses flew from his face. His eyes felt as if they were orbs of hot lava melting his brain. Eddie looked in horror at his seventh grade science teacher. Butch stood up, laughing for all he was worth. Steve pulled a pumpkin bomb from his own pocket, lit it and ran up to Butch. Butch held up a hand to get a high five from his fat buddy. His fat buddy grabbed Butch’s sagging pants by the belt line, grinned and shoved the pumpkin bomb down Butch’s underwear. It exploded. Butch fell to the floor. The crotch of his jeans were a black smoldering hole. His twig and berries were nothing more than a bloody ground mess.
“Fuck you, Butch,” Steve said as he walked away.
Raymond couldn’t see. He could hear but it sounded like everyone was in a tunnel. Cathy ran to him. He mumbled a single word.
“Ok, ok,” Cathy got a cup from the stack near the punch bowl - which was spiked when the first set of kids came through - and retrieved water from the fountain. Raymond fumbled with the package while Cathy was getting the water. He ripped the orange topper from the Pumpkin Potion. Cathy attempted to give him the water. He held out his hand instead and she gave him the cup. He emptied the pouch of Pumpkin Potion into his mouth and chased it down with water.
“Raymond, what are you doing?” Cathy asked. She reached down to help him. Raymond contorted in pain. His bones literally sounded as if they were cracking. Sirens were coming. He could hear them. He could hear her screaming for help. Raymond could hear everything. No tunnel. His eyes were clear and the pain was gone. Raymond stood and held out a hand.
“No, stay away,” he said. Cathy was wide eyed.
Raymond ran. His shoes burst under his feet. He escaped the gym through the janitor’s closet. He was gone. No one would find him. Raymond Mathis was as good as dead.
It had been seventy two hours since the events at LBC Middle School. Butch lived but he was now a eunuch. Steve turned himself in to the police and confessed to what the boys had done. The little boy was lying wide awake in his hospital bed at two o’clock in the morning. No mother, father, aunt or uncle came to get him. But someone did. The tall man walked quietly into the room. The boy lit up, holding up his bandaged hand.
“Did you kill them?” the little boy asked.
“No, but I punished the one that did this to you. Are you ready to go, my son?” the tall man asked.
“I am, father. My daddy is the Pumpkin Man,” the kid said with an excitement that made the tall man smile.
“I can fix your hand, you know. Really fix it but there is a trade off,” the tall man said.
“What is it?” the boy asked.
“You’ll stay this age forever and I’ll be with you forever. How does that sound?” the tall man asked.
“It’s all I ever wanted,” said the little boy.
The little piece of Raymond that was dying away inside the tall man finally appreciated Halloween.