I love to scare people. Especially, at Hallowe'en.
I don't go after the wee ones: I'm not cruel. I don't want the parents in my neighbourhood putting me in their bad books. But the teenagers are fair game.
Over the past couple of years, I will don a black hooded robe and a skeleton mask. I'll sit, limp, in a Muskoka chair on my front steps, and make like I'm a stuffed dummy (no jokes, please). If I see a young kid approach my driveway, I'll pull off the mask, take the hood down, and pick up the bowl of treats.
For the rest, I wait, lifeless, until they approach the door. And then I abruptly come to life and let out a spooky moan.
And the screams are my reward.
One time, however, one of my Hallowe'en pranks didn't work out as planned. But it sure created a fright.
When I was in my teens, living with my folks, I would often hand out the treats. But I would always dress up, always as a ghoul or a monster. One year, I decided to do something different. Something creepy, but not particularly scary.
That was the intention.
I wore a jump suit. It was one that one of my friends had worn when he worked in a garage as a part-time job. The suit was a little big on me, but that didn't matter: I wasn't planning to move around in it very much. I messed up my hair, applied powder to my face to make it pale, and drew dark patches under my eyes.
I was going for the dead look.
In my parents' front entrance, a planter hung from a hook that was anchored to the ceiling. Not being a spooky decorative piece, I removed the planter and set it aside. On the floor, under the hook, I placed a step stool. Using a rope, I fashioned a noose, placed it around my neck, and put the other end around the hook in the ceiling.
You know where this is going, don't you?
I stood on the stool, ensured that I had enough slack in the rope to allow me to bend forward so that I could deliver treats to bags without it pulling on my neck. I was set.
As the trick or treaters came to the door, most were surprised to find a hanging victim giving out candy. While I scared no one, many cautioned me to be careful.
Until the tiniest child, dressed as a princess, arrived.
She was cute. All dressed in pink, with puffed shoulders, a sparkly tiara in her hair. She was less than five years old: this must have been her first Hallowe'en.
While I couldn't get out of my getup, I didn't try to act like I was dead, didn't waggle my tongue like I was being strangled. I put on my softest, gentlest voice, told her she looked great, and tried to lean forward to place the candies in her bag.
But she was just too tiny, too nervous, and wouldn't raise her bag higher. So I leaned further, trying to reach the bag, or at least get into a position where I could drop the candy into the bag.
Just a little further, I thought to myself, when I lost my balance, kicked the stool out from under my feet, and fell forward.
I hadn't tied the rope to the hook: I merely wrapped it once around so that it wouldn't slip off. For me, the whole thing happened in slow motion. I felt the rope grip firmly around my neck, felt the pressure in my head. For a second, it seemed that I actually hung from the rope. But I know that that wasn't the case.
But what did happen is that the hook came out of the ceiling, leaving a small hole as the anchor broke the drywall and sending me crashing to the floor.
I was unhurt, but I had succeeded in scaring the crap out of myself. And in making the little princess scream.
That was not the intention.
But one thing was certain: I had made it into the bad books of her parents.