You don’t want to run out of candy at 8:09 pm on the night of October 31st. Just ask Byron O’Donahue of 241 56th Ave. SE.
He’d just moved to the neighbourhood and figured he was prepared. On his way home from work, he picked up two boxes of mini-chocolate bars plus a bag of suckers, just in case some large group like a junior marching band or baton twirling team all decided to trick or treat together. He didn’t mind polishing off any left-overs.
Byron’s doorbell rang for the first time at 4:30 pm.
By 5:06 pm, he was already onto the second box of chocolate bars.
By 6:12 pm, he’d already broken open that last resort bag of suckers. As the numbers of remaining suckers in the bag dwindled with wave after wave of costumed kids pounding on his door, he contemplated cracking the suckers in two to make them go further. But who would get the stick, and who would get the short end of the stick?
At 7:45 pm, Byron checked his watch and hoped that maybe there was a curfew in the city. Or maybe the weatherman had predicted a tornado to sweep through town so everyone started trick or treating early. This had to stop soon.
He was wrong. They kept coming, and at 8:09 pm, Byron gave out the last sucker.
He contemplated turning out the lights and hiding in the basement, but then he’d heard stories of what happened to vacant houses on Hallowe’en. The thought of cleaning raw egg or shaving cream off his siding, or pulling the streamers of toilet paper out of his trees was not appealing.
At this point, there was only one thing left to do. Byron headed for the kitchen. The next three groups of kids who rang his doorbell and shouted, “Trick or Treat!” watched in amazement as Byron dropped cans of beans, a tin of coconut milk, and a packet of dried lentils into their loot bags. “You can’t get any sweeter than this!” he said to the next group as he poured a cup of white sugar into their pillowcases. Byron followed this by dropping a lump of solidified brown sugar into the bag of a lone kid in a ninja costume. “Try using your ninja powers to break up this lump,” he said.
They kept coming.
The kid who got the half-bottle of soya sauce looked somewhat perplexed, as did the next twenty or so kids who got something in their goody bags they’d never gotten before– a box of salt, a shaker of oregano, bags of raw pasta, a bottle of olive oil, a partial tin of cocoa powder, individual tea bags.
They kept coming.
As his cupboards emptied, his level of desperation rose. The fridge was next. He was out of eggs, so he didn’t have to face the dilemma of handing out something that could be used against him. A carton of milk– “Make sure you keep it upright, just in case,” half a cabbage– “We wouldn’t want to forget about pet rabbits on Hallowe’en, would we?” (He closed the door before the kids finished telling him he didn’t have a pet rabbit.) A bag of frozen peas– “Hurry home before they melt, or you’ll have to boil them up and eat them tonight.”
At 9:58 pm, his fridge was empty. Almost empty. There were two cans in the door. He stared at those cans, his mind waxing and waning, pushing and pulling with the greatest ethical dilemma he could ever remember facing.
“No. I can’t,” he said out loud finally. “If I did, it would make the news.” So, instead of handing out two cans of beer to the next trick or treaters, Byron cracked them open, threw back his head, and drained them. When the doorbell rang, he went to the front door with two empty cans. “You can get something for these,” he said, dropping them into the bulging goody bags.
It was 10:02 pm when he heard the pickup truck pulling away. “That’s got to be it,” he said with a sigh and a flick of the outside light switch.
What Byron did not hear was the rumble of a bus pulling up to the end of his driveway. They’d been delayed by a flat tire, but now, the bus door swung open, and out streamed all thirty-two members of the Nose Hill Junior Marching Band and Baton Twirling Squadron.