Beck has the PERFECT Halloween costume. Too bad no one recognizes her. Almost no one....
|Word count: Approx. 2,600
Summary: Written for the prompt(s): It's the local Halloween celebrations. Where is your character and what do they get into? and The Halloween party started at 9:00 p.m. A zombie greeted me at the door. From the corner of my eyes I saw a witch and a cowboy talking. . . .
The Halloween party started at 9:00 p.m. A zombie greeted me at the door. From the corner of my eyes I saw a witch and a cowboy talking, and a pink bunny rabbit enthusiastically doing the Running Man to the eerie Witch House-style techno blaring from the strategically placed speakers.
I sighed, and tried not to feel underdressed. Because I had the perfect costume. Absolutely perfect.
“Hey, you!” the zombie exclaimed, pulling me in for a bear-hug. I hugged him back, careful not to get any of his make-up or hopefully fake blood on my so-called costume. “You’re on time . . . sorta. Only half an hour late.”
“I’m never late,” I said as we let each other go. “Nor am I early. I arrive precisely when I mean to.”
The zombie—who, on days that were not Halloween, dressed as my best friend Chad—snorted and pulled me into his house.
“Whatever you say, Gandalf.” He laughed. “Really, though, if you’re supposed to be Gandalf, your, uh, costume doesn’t remotely reflect that.”
“Actually, I’m not supposed to be Gandalf,” I said, spreading my hands and shaking the bottle of pancake syrup I carried. Between that, my apron, and the red kerchief tied around my head and covering my dreads, it should be fairly obvious to everyone that I was—
“Ah!” Chad-the-zombie said, nodding. “Mrs. Butterworth!”
I glared and smoothed my apron. “Aunt Jemima, Choad.”
He rolled his eyes, a ghoulish sight, indeed, and closed the front door behind us. “What’s the difference?”
“The same difference between your mom’s face and my ass,” I said, sticking out my tongue and making a face. He rolled his eyes again and swatted my arm.
“Real mature, Beck. Anyway, as far as I know, neither Aunt Jemima nor Mrs. Butterworth wore a Pink Floyd t-shirt and cargo pants under their aprons.” Chad-the-zombie snorted and gestured at my outfit. “Where’s the skirt? Where’s the authenticity?”
I huffed. “I don’t do skirts, you know that, Chadley.”
“Not even on Halloween? Show off those hairy gams of yours?”
“Not even on Halloween,” I declared. Chad-the-zombie laughed and clapped me on the back heartily—he was six foot three, three hundred or so pounds of undead-American—nearly sending my spine through my ribcage.
“C’mon,” he said, pulling me close with one slab-arm around my neck in an almost-chokehold. In return, I swung my arm around his wall of a back. “Pierce’s been wondering when you’d get here. To hear him talk, it’s not a party without you drunk and disorderly. ”
“Won’t catch me disagreein’,” I replied as we made our way through the crowd of vampires, ghosts, slutty nurses, and even a guy dressed as Beetlejuice, to the drinks and snacks tables.
One a.m. found me navigating my drunk-ass way out onto Chad-the-zombie’s back deck for some air.
In the four or so hours since I’d arrived, I’d made the rounds of the party, greeted and hailed by friends, and friends of friends, as Mrs. Butterworth. Early on, some drunken wag dressed as Chuck Norris had gotten the bright idea of doing a syrup shot from my bottle of syrup, and by the time I made my way outside, the bottle had been practically emptied from all the party-goers who’d followed suit.
“Bastards drank my costume,” I muttered to myself, holding the nearly empty bottle up to the light and taking a swig of my fifth or sixth PBR. If I didn’t slow it down, I was going to have to break the seal, and once I did, I’d be going every five minutes for the rest of the night.
“Well, whaddaya expect? Everyone loves pancake syrup. Even when there’re no pancakes to go with it,” a voice said from behind me. I glanced around, and my jaw dropped.
A smallish young woman stood behind me, dressed up in a blood-red wedding dress and veil. Her dyed-black hair, which curled slightly in wisps that clung to her powder-white face, made her dark, dark eyes seem incredibly large, and her lips incredibly red and pouty.
She looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t tell if it was because I’d met her before tonight, or because I subconsciously recognized who she was supposed to be.
“Uh. . . .” I said incisively, trying not to drool. “Who’re you supposed to be?”
She blinked and didn’t smile, though her eyes crinkled just a tiny bit at the corners. “Tonight, I’m Lydia Deitz. From Beetlejuice,” she prodded when I continued to stare blankly at her. “You’ve probably seen my brother walking around . . . he’s Beetlejuice.”
“Oh! That fuckin’ guy!” I laughed, finally putting it together. I hadn’t seen Beetlejuice in years, but I remembered that wedding scene at the end, and Winona Ryder in that red wedding dress. . . .
She’d been hot. Not as hot as this girl, though. She really did look the part, down to the shy, woebegone, yet innocent expression on her pretty, pale face.
“Sick costume,” I said, toasting her with my mostly-finished PBR. Now, she smiled, small and wry. Self-deprecating, even.
“Well, it’s no Aunt Jemima, but I guess it’s okay.”
I grinned, big and drunkenly. “You got it right! Hallelujah! People have been calling me Mrs. Butterworth all damn night!” I snorted. “I thought the actual bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup would make it a dead giveaway who I was.”
“You would think,” ‘Lydia’ agreed, still smiling.
“I guess all black women carrying bottles of pancake syrup look alike to some people,” I said, only half-seriously. ‘Lydia’ chuckled.
“Especially when you’re as drunk as some people, including my brother, are.”
I nodded, remembering being hailed as Mrs. Butterworth by Beetlejuice, who’d then demanded two syrup shots.
What an asshole, I’d thought at the time, then forgotten all about it.
“Soooo,” I drawled when we’d been standing there and staring at each other in silence for the better part of a minute. “What’s your name when you’re not Lydia Deitz?”
Smiling almost mysteriously, she held out her hand—the one not holding the blood-red bouquet. I took it, noting absently that it was cool, small, and soft in my own. “When I’m not Lydia Dietz, I’m Carmen Rios . . . and you are?”
“Beck,” I said, and it came out like a burp. I blushed, glad it wouldn’t show up on my complexion, and clarified when her eyebrows lifted gently. “Rebekah Lewis. But everyone calls me Beck.”
“Nice to meet you, Beck,” Carmen said softly, and let go of my hand. I was sorry when she did. Then we were both looking over my shoulder when raucous laughter erupted from the darkest corner of Chad-the-zombie’s backyard. I could see several figures over there, leaning close together and talking, and a wreath of smoke wafting up toward the overcast night sky.
“Looks like somebodies are gettin’ high without us,” I said, snickering. Carmen’s smile widened.
“No doubt my brother is one of them. All he does besides play video games is get stoned.” She rolled her eyes and I grinned.
“Sounds like a man after my own heart,” I decided, willing to overlook his massive fail earlier this evening if he was a fellow stoner and gamer like myself.
I offered Carmen my arm and she did that eyebrow-quirk thing, which I was surprised into thinking was about the sexiest thing ever. At least when she did it. “Shall we join the cool kids, and let them pressure us into using illicit substances?”
Carmen made an apologetic face and didn’t take my arm. “Sorry. I don’t do drugs.”
I rolled my eyes, this time. “Who said anything about doing drugs? I’m talkin’ ‘bout getting baked!”
“I don’t do that, either,” Carmen responded, her eyes twinkling mischievously. I swigged the last of my beer and tossed the can at Chad-the-zombie’s garbage can. I think I missed.
“Okay, then, wanna get some more beers—wait a minute, don’t tell me: you don’t drink, either!” I guessed when she opened her mouth to obviously demur.
“Sorry, I don’t.”
“Well, fuck,” I said, at a loss for how to break the ice. Then I had a moment of inspiration. “Do you like Call of Duty?”
“Uh . . . no.”
“Gears of War?”
She shook her head no.
“Never heard of it, but probably no.”
“Fuck,” I said again, utterly flabbergasted. “Then what do you do for fun?”
That enigmatic smile made a reappearance. “I like nature,” she said simply, looking around us like she was looking at a fabulous wonderland. I looked around and saw no wonderland, only crabgrass, bald patches, and a maple tree that was probably one good lightning storm away from killing Chad’s house, or Chad’s car, or Chad.
“You mean this shit were standing in?” I asked, mystified. Carmen giggled and nodded.
“Yep. I like the outdoors, and the sky . . . looking up at the stars. . . .”
I glanced up at the overcast sky. “Tonight must suck for you, then.”
“Not as much as I’d previously thought.”
When I drew my gaze back down from the sky, Carmen was smiling that enigmatic smile again, and not looking at me. But I blushed, nonetheless, glancing away. It was then that I spotted the wooden, A-frame picnic table Chad and Pierce had gotten shortly after they’d moved in together.
“Hey, uh . . . wanna maybe go sit and talk?” I asked Carmen hopefully, pointing at the picnic table. “It’s in nature, and it won’t get you high or drunk, and doesn’t involve shooting anything.”
“With a pitch like that, you make it tough for a girl to say no,” Carmen said wryly, but this time, when I held out my arm, she took it. She smiled up at me—she was at least four inches shorter than I was—and I grinned back stupidly, once again floored by how pretty she was. Like a blood-drenched china-doll, or something.
About halfway across the yard and to the picnic table, a voice arose from the gaggle of stoners in the shadowed corner of the yard: “Heyya, Butterworth! Don’t knock ‘er up!”
Followed by guffawing, goofy male laughter.
And faster than I’ve ever seen anyone’s demeanor change, my delicate, enigmatic, elegant, china-doll of a bride went full-blown ballistic, her face turning red under her powdery make-up as she whirled around to face the stoners, who immediately stopped giggling and began muttering nervously.
“Luis Alberto Rios!” Carmen seethed, not raising her voice much beyond the conversational tone she’d been using with me. “I know where you sleep. I have access to your food. I know where you stash your porn. Do not cross me!”
For a few moments there was silence—absolute silence in the yard, and no movement except for the uncertain milling of several suddenly uncomfortable stoners. From their midst, one black-and-white striped figure emerged slightly, just enough to be seen, hands held up in placation.
“Hey—it was just a joke, Carmelita—Mrs. Butterworth knows I’m joking, right?” Beetlejuice, a.k.a. Luis Alberto Rios said nervously. But before I could answer, Carmen had turned away and was all but dragging me toward the picnic table. I went willingly, but as I went, I couldn’t resist one final, witty riposte.
“It’s Aunt Jemima, bitch!” I tossed over my shoulder as we went, and flashed him the peace-sign with my free hand. “Deuces!”
Carmen made a noise that sounded uncannily like a snicker and held her bouquet up in front of her face.
I grinned and squared my shoulders, covering Carmen’s hand on my arm with my peace sign-hand like a Victorian gentleman. “You’re snickering.”
Carmen snickered again, and this time, lost it completely, giggling and snorting. I kept leaning over, trying to get a look at her face, even as we got to the picnic table and sat, and she kept hiding behind her flowers.
“Are you gonna hide that pretty face for the rest of the night?” I finally demanded, laughing myself. “’Cause that’d be a real shame.”
And Carmen cleared her throat of a few renegade giggles, composed herself, and looked at me with that serene, enigmatic smile . . . but this time, it was my turn to chuckle.
I snorted. “Nothing, just . . . your make-up is a little. . . .” I reached out to brush at a spot on her cheek where her powder had smeared and come off—probably on her bouquet—revealing skin the color of poured caramel, and I wound up just caressing her cheek with the back of my index finger. Her skin was cool and soft.
Carmen’s dark eyes widened and her lips parted like she was about to speak. And me, being the drunken opportunist that I am, I leaned in and kissed her on those perfect, pouty, parted lips. Nothing fancy or obnoxious, just a soft press of my mouth to hers, with a teeny, tiny flirt of tongue to tickle her lips. She tasted sweet, like Halloween candy . . . and then I was pulling away to gauge her reaction.
She was still wide-eyed with surprise and blinked at me slowly before she sighed and smiled. Neither enigmatic, nor wry, this smile was shy and wondering.
“If I overstepped my boundaries, feel free to kick my ass,” I said softly, scooting closer to her, till we were touching all along our sides. Carmen’s smile turned a trifle wry, now, but was still kissably sweet.
“You totally overstepped . . . but you don’t hear me complaining,” she murmured, leaning against me. I grinned and put my arm around her shoulders and she laid her head on my shoulder.
We leaned back against the picnic table and watched the overcast night sky. We listened to the sounds of the night—including the giggles and guffaws of stoners a dozen yards away—and didn’t speak much. Especially not after a bunch of shared, coy glances turned into me kissing Carmen again, this time with some serious fucking intent.
Eventually the stoners, Beetlejuice included, went back into the party, leaving just Carmen and me to canoodle and cuddle for warmth in the increasing chill of the wee hours. Occasionally others came outside to smoke or get some air—or to do some canoodling, themselves. But they all went back inside sooner, rather than later, probably because it was getting so nippy.
Finally, Carmen shivered, despite her heavy wedding dress and I, who had been feeling uncomfortably chilly for at least the past half-hour, kissed her forehead and squeezed her closer. “Wanna go in? It’ll be warmer . . . plus, the party’s probably winding down, now, and it’ll be a little less crazy.”
“Mm . . . okay. You had me at warmer,” she yawned, and we stood up, stretching. Then, arms around each other, we went back in to the party.
A scattered cheer went up as I closed the glass door behind us, and a few of the people still there and partying hard began chanting “Butterworth! Butterworth! Butterworth!” and fist-pumping the air, like I was a sports hero or something. Even Chad-the-zombie and Pierce-the-Elf, in a corner, arms around each other, got in on the action, if a bit belatedly, mouthing: “Jemima! Jemima! Jemima!”
I raised my almost-empty syrup bottle high, hugged my girl close, and accepted the rather suspect approbation with all the grace and humility I could muster. They were idiots, but they were my friends. And I was their . . . Butterworth.
It could’ve been worse, I guess.
At least they hadn’t mistaken me for the Cream of Wheat-guy, or Uncle Ben.
Perfect costume, indeed.