ZeLisa exited her car, black bag in hand. Children crammed the sidewalk. “Do they give good candy here?” she asked in jest, weaving through the maze.
“He never gives the candy.” A squeaky voice under a mask yelled before scurrying on. “You take what you want.”
She thought that was odd until landing at the door.
A barrel stocked full of every kind of candy you ever thought you could want set for the taking. “Wow.” She rang the bell. Just looking at the stash gave her a toothache. The next thing she knew, her bag hit the stoop, and her hands mined for gold all the way up to her elbows.
“A little old for door-to-door, aren’t you?” Until that dry, lispy, baritone intonation, there was no warning the door had opened.
ZeLisa started to raise her head. Only, her eyes latched onto monstrous black platform shoes planked across the threshold. She skimmed up the body to see a squared-shouldered, flat-headed, green Frankenstein. Herman the Munster caught her red-handed. He stared down from the shadowy heights, his face twisting into Herman’s cynical smile. “That from a man playing dress up.”
“I only meant it’s not every day I get a runway model at my door.”
ZeLisa hid her embarrassment, and withdrew her hands from the barrel. Clenched in them was dark chocolate, individually wrapped in gold foil that glittered in the porch light.
“No children in sight. If you’re looking for a party you’ve come to the right place.”
Opening her purse, she released her jackpot, right under his nose. Then, she stepped into the light. Peering directly into his amber eyes, she witnessed the vanishing of his Herman the Munster smile. “I’m looking for…” She pulled the note from her purse. “…Mr. Streeter.”
He appeared to struggle with his expressions. She gazed around him into the interior. As far as she could see, wall-to-wall vampires, extraterrestrials, and other ungodly creatures invaded the home.
More kids showed up to scrounge the barrel. Their voices, excited and shrill, forced the thought of his stony visage out of her mind—and her out of the way. Although they left with loads of candy, that didn’t put a dent in the barrel’s contents.
Free to move back now, ZeLisa focused on his tall body, awaiting his answer. He thumbed his fake top teeth before he spoke.
“You’re looking at him. I’m Hank Streeter.”
Precisely then, consecutive booms burst in the air. They exploded the children’s noises to smithereens, and launched ZeLisa into defensive mode. She snatched the front of his shirt on her way to a crouch, dragging him down with her. Surprise pulsed in his eyes. He studied her from his stooped position in the doorway.
Their stares instantly fused.
It took only seconds for her to realize her error; someone’s car had backfired. Shamefaced, she loosened her grip, stood, and manipulated her left hip. “I’m Dr. Tobias. You called about a sick puppy.”
For some unknown reason, he remained squatted. Gazing into the orangey-brown hue in his eyes was like basking in a late-evening sunset, despite the shock still in them. Without a doubt, he deciphered the scary emotions she knew were written all over her face.
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