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Fright Night

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Frankly, the guy--the guy with the big, blunt, military-looking pistol in his hand--well, to tell the truth, I know him to be a hotheaded man and the gun could very well be real.

I'm walking the dog down one side of the street, and he's running across at me chasing a kid. His kid, probably, though I'm not sure because he passed as a swift, silent blur. The boy dashed out the open front door of the family two-flat, followed by his big, beefy dad. Not exactly yelling at each other, as they often do, but still, the father does appear to be packing a gun.

And I wonder: Is it too cool of me to keep on walking? Or maybe this is only a preliminary bout of Halloween, just two days off. In which case, of course, most experts would probably agree: I should. Just keep on walking, that is.

The dog does. Sniffs around an orange lamplit pile of soggy leaves in the parkway. Ten o'clock on a Saturday night and we've got piles and piles to go before we sleep. The big guy trots past us with the heavy pistol in his fist, and it doesn't faze my little Pomeranian in the least. He lifts his leg and we move on down the block, mildly dazzled in a leafy corridor of jack-o'-lanterns and shadowy front-yard ghoul graveyards.

He can be my canary in this ethical coal mine--if he's not worried, I'm not either, I guess.

We're about halfway down the block when an enormous black Dodge Ram pickup slams out of the darkness directly in front of us. Bright, high headlights blind me as the dark truck swoops around over the sidewalk and into a narrow driveway. This is one big, tough, black truck reflecting moonlight in my face; a guy could get to feel like Ichabod Crane real fast. What sort of crazed, hairy boozer is going to swing his drunken bulk out of this giant demon vehicle? Is he after the guy with the gun?

Headlights snap off and the door of the darkened truck pops open. It's another well-known neighbor, and she's about five feet of spry, wiry energy as she drops down from the truck and bounds up her front-porch stairs.

Boy, that is a whole lot of monster truck she leaves behind out there. Big enough for several Darth Vaders to live inside, terrorize a universe. I pull the little dog away from peeing on its tires, walk away wondering what in the world anybody would think we were dressed up to be.

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