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Oct. 14, 2022

Ep.159 – The Grinner - Halloween Tricks Can Make You Lose Your Head!

Ep.159 – The Grinner - Halloween Tricks Can Make You Lose Your Head!

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Little Robin is 10 years old and has hatched a scheme to become the King of Halloween, all he has to do is steal something from the Grinner...

The Grinner by Henrique Couto

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Support us on Patreon

Little Robin is 10 years old and has hatched a scheme to become the King of Halloween, all he has to do is steal something from the Grinner...

The Grinner by Henrique Couto

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Music by Ray Mattis

Executive Producer Rob Fields

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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The Grinner

by Henrique Couto



Halloween was my absolute, one hundred percent, all time favorite day of the year. The moment I could see the leaves changing colors my mind would start to spin. I’d sit in school with my leg nervously jumping as I drew zombies and vampires attacking unsuspecting townspeople in my trapper keeper and hummed The Monster Mash to myself. My grades definitely dip during the fall but who cares? It’s the start of the school year anyway, I’d show plenty of improvement once Thanksgiving rolled around.


I’m no schlub though, I would start plotting out my costume during Summer break, gathering all the pieces from garage sales, thrift stores and relatives we’d visit up in Rhode Island. The ride from Ohio was like 16 hours so the least they can do is help me out. My Dracula outfit last year was A+ and every kid at school was impressed. Even the upperclassmen bully types had to admit my fangs and fake blood were startling realistic. So realistic in fact that they sent me to the nurse and made me scrub it off with some weird smelling off brand pink hand soap.


When I was four years old I was a power ranger, don’t judge me they were awesome! Five was a mummy, mainly because my Dad was an ER nurse and he brought home boatloads of bandages. At six I tried Dracula for the first time, I was a total goober though and had those cheesy plastic teeth that never stay in place and are pretty much guaranteed to make your gums bleed. I also had the most obscenely long painted on widow’s peak my mom did in black makeup.


Seven was when I really started hitting my stride though, that’s when I discovered Saturday Nightmares on TV. My mom and dad loved watching it and it was way too scary for kids. I would stretch out on the loveseat next to them and pretend to fall asleep, I would then go totally dead weight and grouchy when they tried to pry me off and put me to bed. They’d give up and I’d get to lay there sneaking peeks of Jason Voorhees, Dracula, Candyman and so many more. The perfect crime.


So my costume at seven years old was Jason, I ripped up some old clothes and got a hockey mask out of an old trunk in the garage. I made a big machete out of a cardboard box and was out in the neighborhood stalking for camp counselors to skewer. When I was eight I did Frankenstein but I made all my body parts nasty different colors. Greens, grays, reds, I really looked like a hodge podge of stolen body parts stitched together! That was the first year I made another trick or treater cry. SWEET ACTION.


At nine I wore the aforementioned Dracula costume and I was the most rad prince of darkness anyone had ever seen. I practiced my accent in the mirror every morning, with my fangs in of course. I even bought denture glue to keep them in my mouth securely. It tasted awful by the way. This year though I really had to go all out because I was ten and I got my first invitation to an older kid party. It may not seem like a big deal to you but Middle Schoolers usually never want anything to do with elementary schoolers. I got on their radar when word spread I had a video copy of Sleepaway Camp 2 and the king of gross out party movies Faces of Death. 


In our small town getting a copy of the most notorious horror movie of all time (banned in 46 countries!) was nearly impossible but thanks to my summer trips to New England I managed to score a copy. I may have convinced my Grandma that it was a cartoon based on the illustrated hooded skeleton on the cover… This is great and all except for one issue… These cool older kids are just going to put my movies on and then ignore me the whole night but not if tonight went according to plan…


“Earth to Robbie, come in Robbie” A playfully annoyed voice blasted me back to reality where I stood next to my locker at school.


“What?” I replied trying to remember if I was in a conversation with best friend Michael and forgot or if he’d just walked up to me.


“Daydreaming about the Girls Gone Wild commercial again?” Michael said with a huge cheese eating grin. He was a degenerate but he was my degenerate.


“Shut up, I was just plotting out tonight.”


Michael shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he regained a grip on his binder which was undoubtedly full of comic books and not a single piece of schoolwork. “Oh yeah, you’re going to that Middle Schooler party. The one I’m not cool enough to tag along to.”


“Once I blow them away with Faces of Death and my Freddy Krueger costume and they realize how cool I am for my age then we can work on convincing them about you too.” I meant it, as badly as I wanted to be cool Michael had been my best friend since Kindergarten and I wouldn’t want him to be left out.


“Yeah yeah great. We’re still trick or treating together, right?” He asked as he tried not to sound disappointed.


“Duh, we’re taking this town for all of it’s candy.” I raised by hand for a high five then quickly realized Michael had both his hands full. My eyes narrowed as I got very serious and leaned in close.


“So here’s the plan, we score all the candy up the south side of town then when we loop back around we stop by The Grinner.”


“I thought we agreed we’d steer clear of The Grinner this year.” Michael replied with a whine.


The Grinner was a scarecrow-like dummy placed in front of McClellan Hall which was a creepy old beat up historical landmark and former funeral home. Every year for as long as I could remember The Grinner was put on the front steps of the Hall with a big fat bowl of candy in its lap and a sign that said “please take only one.” Which we had always ignored.


The only problem with The Grinner was… well, the grin. The weird sack like head had warped in strange ways over the years, it seemed like every Halloween the hellish smile was more lopsided, deformed, and terrifying. Most of the younger kids never dared to get a single piece of candy from The Grinner. I would never hesitate to grab a couple of extra fun sized kit-kats even if it gave me the creeps. It was kind of fun, until last year.


Michael and I were getting ready to fill our bags with candy from the large and mostly full bucket of sweet treats. Mike was trying to stop me from taking more than one because his old man had told him if you cross The Grinner “he eats kids.” That’s so believable and not just the kind of crap parents just make up on the spot to scare us. NOT!


So I went in to fill my bag with ill gotten gains when all of the sudden The Grinner moved! We both jumped back and let out yelps as a jet black cat skittered past us. Stupid cat nearly made me jump out of my skin! Michael fell flat on his butt off the stoop. On the way home that night he made me promise we’d never even bother going to The Grinner’s house. 


But desperate times call for desperate measures.


“God Robbie, you want to take The Grinner’s candy to that stupid party?” Michael groaned.


“What? No! Anyone can buy candy… I’m going to take The Grinner’s HEAD!” I smiled as if I had long sharp teeth to bare.


Michael’s words exploded out of him “Are you kidding?! That’s insane!” All of his school supplies fell out of his arms and onto the floor as he didn’t even acknowledge the mess.


“Relax, it’s just a dummy.” My confidence wasn’t waining.


“We don’t know that! No one even knows who puts him there!” Michael dropped down to gather his belongings.


“It’s probably like the mayor or the school board or something.” I squatted down to help him gather his comics. “So are you in, it would be ultimate.”


Michael looks up at me “No.”




“Would you slow down!” Michael yelled as he sucked on a jolly rancher six steps behind me. The streets were dark, most of the other kids had called it a night but we had one last stop before I became the king of Halloween to all the Middle Schoolers.


Michael and I walked up to McClellan Hall and stopped dead in front, just barely outside of the glow of the nearest street light. There he was. The Grinner was sitting in his usual disheveled manner. His smile was warped up the side of his head. The stitched lips looked oddly convincing in the dark, like they were going to spread apart at any moment and reveal rows of teeth like a shark.


I stared hard at The Grinner as I formulated a game plan for the soon to come decapitation. From as far as I could tell it was barely attached to anything. The way it sat on its shoulders and tattered double breasted jacket made it seem free of much resistance.


Michael stood still, his white Michael Myers halloween mask hanging on top of his head like a hat. He sighed deeply as he crunched hard candy between his teeth. “Dude, no. Don’t do it.”


I couldn’t believe he was still so scared. This was the kid who watched Evil Dead at 3:30am in the morning after I had fallen asleep an hour earlier. Michael could be a spaz sometimes but he was never a wuss. My eyes went from him back to The Grinner, who’s demented happy face remained thankfully unchanged. At that moment I realized maybe I was a little scared too.


“Mikey, if you’re that afraid it’s okay, you can go home and I’ll take care of business. The party isn’t far from here anyhow.” I bluffed, knowing full well that he would never leave me alone in such a situation. Plus I really didn’t want him to, it was a creepy night and I felt better with him having my back.


“Okay, see you tomorrow!” All the sudden my best friend turned into a chubby, midwestern Speedy Gonzalez as he ran out of sight faster than I had ever seen him move before.


“Dang it!.” I yelled as I stood there all alone… Nervously picking at my Freddy Krueger “melted skin” makeup, which was failing to stay adhered to my face. I’d have to stop by home on my way to the party to get more spirit gum. My plastic razor glove replica was tapping on my sack of candy as I stalled for dear life.


I really wasn’t alone though… The Grinner hadn’t moved a millimeter in the four or five minutes since I arrived. Thank god for small favors. I suddenly realized I had been staring with my jaw agape at the freaky shape and averted my eyes. I’m from the mid-west and my mama taught me it’s not polite to stare. It was a reflex.


The sounds of crickets and distant dogs barking were deafening to my ears as I now stood in front of McClellan Hall purposefully NOT looking at The Grinner. A feeling started to rumble inside me as I realized I felt… Angry. I was really ticked off! Come on, I’m the King of Halloween, I’m the kid that watched all seven Nightmare on Elm Street movies in a row! I’ve played with Ouija boards on Friday the 13th! The Grinner was just some stupid life sized sock puppet that we turned into a legend because our town is THAT boring.


My chest puffed out under my red and green striped sweater. I’m Robin Osborne, I am not afraid of anything. Tonight is Halloween, the one night a year when the stupid and gross things I love are cool. It’s my night dang it!


I stomped my feet hard as I headed straight for The Grinner who sat still in his chair, candy bowl waiting. I stopped as I was almost exactly face to… stitched up sack with him. I looked down at the hand written sign around his neck.


“Please take only one.” The only was underlined.


I read that phrase three or four times, then I laughed to myself and reached into the bowl. “Thanks ole pal.” I taunted as I took exactly two pieces and placed them in my bag.


I flinched out of no where, like something had startled me except there was nothing but silence. The Grinner was as motionless as ever. I took a few deep breaths as I regained my calm. I locked my eyes on its lumpy visage. That grin of his really was eerie but it was time for me to get ahead for once. Ha! Get it? A head.


I set my candy down on the grass and brought both of my hands up. I stopped and removed my plastic Freddy Krueger glove. It may have been great for slashing teenagers but its tensile strength was well below par. My palms were both so unbelievably clammy even in the crisp forty-six degree night.


My hands were finally functioning again and going closer and closer to The Grinner’s noggin. I winced ever so slightly when my hands made contact with the course fabric that made up his flesh. It felt a bit harder than I was expecting, definitely not filled with hay or cotton.


I grasped both sides of the head and took a deep breath while biting down softly on my tongue. As I lifted the head I was also surprised by the weight of it. I could still lift it no problem but I had expected it to be pretty airy. Must be filled with sand or kitty litter or something.


I was right. The head doesn’t appear to be attached by more than a couple threads. I lifted harder and heard the few threads snap as I held the head up above the padded shoulders.




The Grinner’s arms suddenly shot up and grabbed me by the wrists. I bit my tongue hard as my entire body tensed in absolute terror. He pulled my arms downward and forced me to place his head on the makeshift neck. At that moment The Grinner stood up, our height difference was sizable to say the least.


OH MY GOD. The stitched lips began to separate! But instead of revealing row upon row of carnivore teeth he had more average teeth. In fact his two front teeth protruded lower than the rest. The buck toothed living dummy smiled and began to speak.


“Hello boy, are you having a Happy Halloween?” He hissed in an oddly friendly tone.


I tried to answer as best I could but I was gagging on blood flowing freely from my tongue. “Uh… yes…”


“Well just you wait. You and I are going to have the best Halloween ever. Full of adventures, laughter, and candy candy candy!” He chuckled, his laughter childlike with glee.


“Really?” I didn’t know what to think.


“Of course! I exist for Halloween, it’s my favorite night and you’ve awakened me to be your companion for a spooky good time!” The Grinner puffed out his chest as he began to recite a poem that reminded me of black and white movies.


“100 years and 100 nights

For all the children I bring them frights

But I’m really truly quite kind

Only fun and friends are on my mind

I participate in all the spooky fun

my only rule is that you only take one.

The truth is boy, you’re a winner.

You made best friends with The Grinner.”


“So were going to have fun and get candy and you’re going to show me Halloween’s magic?!”


The Grinner laughed so deeply, so truly with happiness and joy.


“Oh my goodness no! I eat children!”


As his smile opened his mouth grew and grew… and I never did.