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Countdown to Halloween right here on TGIF: the Gutenberg cyber all-hits all-the-time blogorama and alternative weekly fishwrap and freaky friday funfest!!! your DJ? Whaddami sayin? Your KJ! That’s keyboard jockey — Johnny Lira! Comin’ at ya with all that’s spooky and kooky on this third weekend of Rocktober, the scariest month of the year for all you girly goblins and gory guys!!!

He shut off the computer screen, closed the free paper, and palmed a handful of candy corn into his mouth, thinking he could save even more this year by handing out melted candles mixed with Sweet’N Low (jacked from McDonald’s) and orange and yellow food coloring. He could roughly shape the warm waxy gunk into a large cone shape around a few Ex-Lax lozenges for the brats next week — those who would brave his front porch past the GET OFF MY PROPERTY sign. A knock at the door interrupted his scowling recollection of the price of laxatives.

“Can’t you read? Who is it?” He wrapped the shawl more firmly around his withered, pale, and liver-spotted legs above his fragrant Depends.

“It is I,” came a youthful voice, that of some teenaged hellion, no doubt. “The ghost of Halloween Past.”

“What? Go away, punk! I’ll call the cops.” Ol’ man O’Lara lifted the polo mallet that rested against the front door and brandished it at the peephole. “I’m armed, I tell ya!” The door swung slowly open.

The young O’Lara set his Zippo lighter against the crumpled brown paper on the doorstep. Cackling to himself, he lit the bag filled with the mephitically odoriferous dog feces and stepped away from his neighbor’s door.

From the cover of an oleander hedge, O’Lara watched as his suburban neighbor, Guzo the cop (called Boozo by O’Lara and his greasy, leather-clad companions in crime), who snarled and drove the flaming bundle across his yard with the putter he had just been practicing with in his den. “Ya little bastids. I know who ya ahh!” And he slammed the door, his brogan unscorched and unfouled by dog leavings. The young O’Lara waited to high-five his pals, but they seemed to have slunk off in either fear of Boozo or disgust that the prank hadn’t worked. “I should have let it burn down some more,” he thought, and looked up and down the small-town Illinois street filled with costumed children. The year was 1965.

The image of O’Lara’s teenaged, leather-jacketed, and duck-assed, Brylcreem-coiffed self shimmered and faded in the doorway as a new, gradually solidifying image took shape. The man standing there was also O’Lara, in a few short years it seemed. His older self was beaming and healthy-looking with a bow tie and plaid sports jacket topped by an all-white, flat-top crew cut. “Howdy. I’m the ghost of Halloween Future, naturally. Meet my new friends.” The ghost, looking like a geriatric member of the Lettermen, moved aside, and children fanned out from either side of him, each of them rosy-cheeked, smiling, and dimpled. “Hi, Mr. O’Lara,” they chimed in unison.

“What is this?” The diapered curmudgeon with the polo mallet squinted at the tableau.

“Just wanted to congratulate you, boy-o,” the aged, varsity-cheerleader-looking version of himself said. “You turned a new leaf. Straightened up. Flew right. Adjusted your attitude and became proactive as a born-again good neighbor. Just wanted to let you know, it all worked out.”


“That’s right, Mr. O’Lara,” a spokesmidget for the children said, a kid who looked like a ventriloquist’s dummy. “Us kids in the neighborhood got together this Halloween present and asked ourselves what we could do to change your grumpy ways. We figured if we were just completely open, honest, and sincere with you and just be the sweet little muffins we are, we could make you crack.”

“Yeah,” another freckled urchin chirped. “We thought we could make you stop mining your front yard with poop, shooting us with paint pellets, and lobbing wormy apples at us. We were right. You really shaped up, and we came to thank you. Oh, yeah, and thanks for donating your driveway as a skateboard mini-park next year.”

“You see, Sourpuss? You turned that frown upside-down. Accentuated the positive. Eliminated the negative. You donate your time at the day-care center, you’re a major contributor to the Policeman’s Benevolent Fund, your guest sermons at the First Existential Church of Family Values are extremely popular. And in 2013 you’ll be named Republican of the Year in Whittier, California, Richard Nixon’s old — what’s wrong, Smiley?”

The seated O’Lara dropped his polo mallet to the floor. His lips trembled, and he clutched at his pacemaker with shaking fingers. “Ah — bu — glu —” He couldn’t quite scream before he croaked.

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