Halloween

by Cole Parker

I don't know, maybe I was crazy. But I always, ever since I can remember, would lie in bed in the morning and hate having to get up for school. I mean, I hated it! It wasn't so much that I hated school. We're talking elementary school here. There isn't that much to hate.

Well, I guess there is. Even in elementary school the teachers are after you all day, there are rules to follow, only some of which make any sense, it's hurry up then wait all the time, someone else is making most of the decisions for you, when the teacher says the same thing for the third time so the slower kids can finally get it you want to scream, the smell after recess at your table is funky, your entire day is scheduled for you, and really the worst thing is you just aren't free at all. You can't really be you. But still, I didn't actually hate it. No, it was getting out of bed I hated. Getting out of bed to go to school just sealed the deal.

Anyway, I can remember, for as long as I can remember anything, lying in bed in the morning, hating the idea of getting up, lying there under those blankets, my head on that soft pillow, still feeling sleep, still half dreaming but having some control over the dreams, fantasizing. And what did I fantasize about? About not getting up! About somehow going to school - I knew I had to do that - but going to school yet still staying in bed. In my fantasies, I dreamed that what would be ideal would be somehow remaining in bed and the bed would be in the classroom - how that part happened was always kind of vague - and all the kids would be at their tables, and I'd be in bed in the back, participating like everyone else, but still in bed, mostly asleep, only answering a question or paying attention if I wanted to. That was sort of like heaven to me. I even had it worked out, the way one does in dreams. The reason I could get away with this was I always was smarter than the other kids, and the teacher loved me, I always had the right answers to her questions when no one else did, and so I had the right to be there, in bed. It was my due.

Hey, I said maybe it was crazy. Cut me some slack here!

I often thought about that, in the morning, when I lay there hating to get up. I thought about it off and on for years. When you're a kid, some dreams come back again and again. Some wishes do too, and that was a recurring one for me. I hated getting out of bed in the morning.

Okay, so I'm not in elementary school any longer. I'm in middle school now. Eighth grade. I'm one of the big kids. I rule the school, me along with 120 other eighth graders. That doesn't mean, however, that I don't still hate getting out of bed in the morning. I still do, maybe even more so. And, I still sometimes think how great it would be to be able to be in the classroom in bed while everyone else was dressed and sitting at their desks.

Hey, I can't control my dreams any more than you can!

Now let me tell you, at 13, you're no kid any longer. Except, you are. You're starting to wake up a little to what's going on around you, you see how life works, understand responsibility, understand consequences, but you're also still a kid. You have kid thoughts, you like it when your parents rescue you from something stupid you did, you like knowing they're there, you make kid decisions, you still like the stuff you liked at 10 but won't admit it, hell, you're still a kid. I know 'cause I'm 13.

So we're coming up on Halloween, see, and my friends are talking about being pirates and vampires and football players and, oh my god, it's the same every year. And I want to do something different. Something no one's ever done. Something people will remember me for. I'm sort of nobody at school. I'm the same size as everyone else, wear my hair the same, dress the same, act the same, and there's some safety in that, but something inside of me is looking to break out. I'd like to be recognized. And at the same time, that's scary as hell, you know? I haven't figured it out yet, whether I want to be safe as a ghost, or Darth Vader, or, or, well, something different, something that's never been done before. Something that would be noticed.

We have to wear our costumes to school on Friday. Halloween's on Saturday this year. That's ace. No school the next day, so we can stay up and go to more houses when we're out trick-or-treating. But having to wear your costume to school cuts down the choices somewhat. Last year, my friend Kevin decided what his costume was going to be. He was all excited, I mean, really excited. And he told me. He was going to dress up like a girl! I don't know what he was thinking, but he had it all figured out, and I've never seen him like that, all excited just thinking about it. Usually he's a pretty laid back kid.

He was all excited for the whole week. He wouldn't let me see his costume. But he told me he was getting it ready, and it would be ace. Halloween was on Thursday, and we were to wear our costumes to school that day. So I stopped at his house in the morning to walk with him to school. I was Batman. I know. I know. Don't get on my case. I was 12 and the last Batman movie had just come out. So I was Batman. Along with half the boys at school. Pissed me off.

I stopped at Kev's house and knocked at the door, and this pretty girl I don't know opens the door and wow! I'm sort of glad I'm wearing the Batman mask so she won't see me blush. She's got a cheerleader's short skirt on showing her great legs and a tight white sweater with the sort of boobs girls have when they're just starting to get them, you know? They're there and you notice because their chests aren't flat any more. They wouldn't be anything you could grab hold of, and yet they're still exciting. She's got lipstick on and eye shadow, just enough to make her eyes stand out and look pretty, and her long blonde hair is shining and she winks at me and she's cute as hell and I think I'm sort of suddenly in love.

Then she says, "About time, numbnuts, we're going to be late," and I almost lose my chin, my mouth drops open so far.

"Kev?"

And he's like, "Huh? What do you mean? Oh. OH! I fooled you? I DID! You thought I was a girl? Hey, neat, man! I fooled you!"

And that's when I was really glad I had the mask on, and the cape, because I wrapped the cape around me and he couldn't see how he'd affected me. It was one thing looking at this really cute girl. Another to hear Kev's voice coming from her. I'd never got excited, that way, over Kevin before. This was strange. I didn't know if I was excited over Kevin, or the girl I thought was a girl, or, or, well, I didn't know. But the excitement I was feeling occurred after I realized it was Kev. And I was awfully glad for the cape.

We went to school, him a girl, me Batman, and I saw right away what Kev hadn't considered. We were 7th graders. The 8th graders took one look at Kevin, and some of them started coming over. They saw her and just came over, they came and started putting the moves on, what moves 8th graders have, I mean give me a break here, and I started laughing so hard I couldn't keep it together, and when they found out why I was laughing, when they found out they'd made fools of themselves over Kev, it wasn't me that got it. It was Kev. We both found out you don't go to school dressed as a girl if you're 12. He found out more than I did.

But that was last year. This year, I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to be. Kev had it all figured out. He was going as a fat weightlifter. Very safe, very masculine, and lots of padding.

I wanted something that would get me noticed, but I sure didn't want to pull a Kevin. However, I don't know, maybe it was the way I'd been feeling lately. I was 13, and I was really wanting to do something, be something, not just be a nobody any longer. I never was all that adventurous. Risk-taking was for those crazy kids who didn't care what happened. I'd always had too much imagination. I knew what could happen if I stepped out of line, and I'd never done so before. But now, right now, I was feeling the need to do that. Some people have told me it's called teenage rebellion. I don't know. I didn't feel exactly rebellious. I just felt like, what? Doing something. Being something. Not being like everyone else.

First, I did what most kids my age would do. I went to my mom.

"Mom, I don't know what I want to be for Halloween, but I want to be different."

"How about a clown, Ricky. I could do some sewing on an old bed sheet, sew on some big yarn balls as buttons, we could make up your face with greasepaint, and. . . "

"Mom, I'm not going to be a clown! That's for little kids!"

"Superman! You were Superman when you were eight and you were adorable. We could go rent you a costume. And you wouldn't have to wear a mask to cover than handsome face."

"Mom!"

Okay, so that wasn't going to work. More and more these days, going to my mom wasn't any help at all. I'd have to figure it out for myself. There was no way to explain to her about wanting to do something different. I could hardly explain it to myself.

I thought about it quite a bit before I got this idea. This horrible idea that made my skin crawl and my brain sort of do somersaults and I wondered, could I? Could I really? No, of course not. I didn't have the guts. But the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to do it and I begin to see ways to make it work, and as I saw that, saw it could actually happen, the more scared and excited I got and, well, overwhelmed with the thought of it. Did I dare? Did I really dare?

I did. I think it was what I'd been feeling lately, this itchy uncomfortable urge to do something different, that in the end allowed me to do it. It wasn't me. I didn't do that sort of thing. But then I did.

The teachers were always pretty easy on costume day. Oh sure, some of the hard asses tried to teach as usual, but classes were shortened so the full day could be fit into an abbreviated schedule and most of them knew they weren't going to get anything productive done when we were all sitting there in costumes, checking each other out, our what were barely controlled energies at the best of times now breaking their reins. Most of the teachers just accepted this was a fun day and had fun lessons or no lessons at all and we played games or just talked to each other, waiting for the parade we all had at lunch time before they let us go home early.

I had it all worked out. All the kids came in costume and the place was an ant nest in the morning with everyone running around and showing off and chasing each other and laughing at the funny costumes and admiring the handsome ones. Ours was one of those typical California schools where the rooms were all in single story wings and there were no inside hallways. All the classrooms opened up to the outside, and sidewalks connected them. The first bell finally rang and kids began moving to their homerooms. The final bell rang, and within seconds, the outside of the school, the playground, the sidewalks, everywhere was deserted.

Which is when I made my entrance. Kevin and Bruce were pushing me, and I was lying in bed, in my pajamas. My costume. I could get away with wearing pajamas to school if it was Halloween. The bed was just a prop, and we were allowed props that went with our costumes. I'd cheated a little. I told you I wasn't very adventurous. I'd told my homeroom teacher I was going to do this, and he'd agreed. Even laughed.

We'd hired a hospital bed with wheels. For one day, it didn't cost that much, and my dad always liked it if I was creative, and this was certainly that.

They pushed me up to our homeroom, then Bruce opened the door, and they both pushed me inside. I was sleeping. They pushed me inside and parked me in the back, and I was sleeping. Just like I always dreamed I would be. Okay, I was pretending, but it was a crowning moment in my life!

The kids all looked, then went bananas! A kid was in school, in bed, in his pajamas! They all pushed and shoved and gathered around the bed. I acted like their noise woke me up. I sort of groggily opened my eyes, yawned, stretched, looked around in surprise, then said in a kind of just-woke-up and what's-going-on-here sort of voice, "Oh, is it school time already?"

I put my pillow up against the headboard and pushed myself up so I was sitting in bed, then spoke to the teacher. "I'm here, sir, sorry if I was a little late. Traffic."

The kids didn't know what to do. It was amazing. It was great. I loved it.

Homeroom was only for 15 minutes, usually, and 10 minutes today. It was only so they could take roll and tell us anything we needed to know for the day, like if there was going to be a fire drill, or if a teacher was absent in one of the classes and there'd be a substitute, or that they'd be giving flu shots in the nurse's office if we had brought our permission slips, that sort of thing. So, shortly after I came in, the bell rang and it was time to go to our first class.

I'd thought about just putting on a bathrobe over my pajamas and walking to classes. I could get away with that; I could walk around school in pajamas and robe on Halloween. But, as I lay there, living my dream, listening to the daily messages, answering, "Here," to my name on the roll, I was enjoying this too much. I was going to continue till I was made to stop. So when the bell rang, I called to Kev and Bruce, and, after only a short discussion with me begging and them grinning, they pushed me to my next class, amidst the shouted laughter and cheers from the rest of the kids. They parked me in the rear of the room, then headed off to their own classes.

That next class for me was with Mrs. Podmire. She's something like 85 years old, I'd guess. I mean, her face is even wrinkled. And her hair is gray. I thought you were supposed to retire when you got real old. Don't you have to when you get to be 50? Isn't that the law? Anyway, Kev and Bruce rolled me in there, she took one look at me, and smiled. Smiled! I'd never seen that before.

So class starts, I'm in the back, in bed, sort of sitting up so I can see. In my fantasy, I often thought it would be neat to be asleep through many of the classes, and in one version the teacher would wake me up when no one could answer a question and I'd have the answer, and then would go back to sleep. In another version, I'd be sleeping and the teacher would be all pissed off about that and would think to get me by asking me a question I couldn't answer because I was asleep, and then he could send me to the office. He'd ask the question, and I'd wake up just at the right time, answer it, and fall back asleep. Pissed the teacher off every time.

Well, I found out that being in bed for real in class at 9:30 in the morning, I wasn't a bit sleepy, and that part of the fantasy was stupid. I was awake and not even thinking of closing my eyes. Instead, I just looked around the room, looked at the kids in their costumes. Since the bed was in the back, I could pretty much see everything and no one was aware I was looking at them.

I looked at everyone, but my eyes kept coming back to Jake. I'd always liked looking at Jake. I'd always thought he, well, I thought he, damn, this is my story, I'm just going to tell it, okay? I thought Jake was cute. I liked looking at him and did it a lot. It gave me funny feelings when I did, too. I also thought about him when I wasn't with him. I didn't know him well, we had different friends. He was one of these irrepressible kids, full of energy, laughing all the time, getting in trouble in classes because he had a hard time containing himself. Not a bit shy. And really cute.

I liked looking at him, and now I could do so nonstop because he was in front of me with his face turned forward. He was dressed as a basketball player, a Laker, wearing a Kobe Bryant uniform. The shirt was too big for him, and slim as he was, I could see a lot of skin. He was over toward the side of the room so I had a half-profile view of him, and I could see into his shirt where it sagged under his arms. I could see glimpses of some of his chest, even his nipples. Funny, I'd never found boys' nipples interesting before. Suddenly Jake's were very interesting to me.

There was another part of my fantasy I haven't said anything about. But I'm 13, and you know some of what boys that age fantasize about in bed in the morning, don't you? Sure you do. And when you wake up stiff, which I do every morning, it simply encourages the fantasizing. So, the other part of the fantasy I haven't said anything about was, I'd lie there, think about being in my bed in the classroom, and I'd sort of touch myself and think about doing that with no one in the room knowing anything about it. That was a pretty nice fantasy. One I'd had often enough it seemed almost real.

Now, I was in bed, in the classroom, looking at Jake, seeing his body under his oversized shirt, and I suddenly remembered where I was and realized my hand was under the covers and touching a part of me that it shouldn't be touching in a classroom full of kids and an 85-year-old teacher. And that that part of me I was touching was loving it.

I quickly pulled my knee up, tenting the sheets and hiding what I'd been doing. No one had seen. I was sure. Pretty sure. But that part of me was still stiff as a board and didn't feel like it would be softening any time this week.

The bell rang. Everyone got up and started leaving. I had to wait for Kev and Bruce. As the kids were noisily making their way to the door, Jake walked by me, then stopped and turned around, a huge smile on his face.

"This is ace, Ricky. You're in bed in your pajamas, we're all up and dressed. How'd you have the nerve to do it? Where'd you get the idea?"

He was sort of moving around as he talked, his face animated, his eyes flashing. I'd never really talked to him before. Now I found myself unable to say much of anything. At a distance he was fascinating. Up close, he was gorgeous, and I was star-struck.

I sort of stuttered an answer. He sort of listened, but Jake was all into his own enthusiasms as usual. He walked from one side of the bed around to the other side, looking at it, touching it, then looking at me, what he could see, about half my chest and above in my pajamas, then at the bed again.

"This is so cool," he said, awe in his voice. "I wish I'd thought of it. How did you know they'd let you? Wouldn't it be cool to do this for real every day? I wish I could. I'd like to be able to do that. I hate getting out of bed in the morning."

He kept right on talking, not really saying much, jabbering. I was just absorbing him. He was right there, right by me, his shirt was showing me lots of skin, and I was getting mesmerized by just looking at him, being this close to him. I was simply drinking in his enthusiasm, his beauty, his presence, so I missed it when he said, "I want to see what it feels like to be in there."

I came to when he pulled back the covers and started getting into bed with me. He pulled back the covers. My hard-on was sticking out of the fly of my pajamas, right there, right where he could see it. And he saw it. He stared at it. It seemed like five minutes he stood there with the covers pulled back, staring at my hard-on.

It was probably five seconds. Or less. I came to, then, and jerked the covers down. I was blushing like I'd never blushed before. Jake looked up at me, shock on his face, which was quickly replaced by a wicked grin, then a giggle. He looked into my eyes, and I saw all his vitality, and something else.

It could have been a disaster. Jake could have told everyone. It would have been the story of the year. Jake would have been the most popular boy in the school, everyone gathering around to hear him tell about it. I'd have been whale shit, which everyone my age is always saying doesn't float.

But that didn't happen. Know what happened? I'm going trick or treating with Jake tomorrow, and then sleeping over!

The End

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