Four o'clock on Halloween and my bath-tub clogs. I wasn't using it. Don't know who clogged it, but I have to fix it.
By bedtime my three-year-old will be covered in caramel and bubble gum. I'll need that tub.
With the sun dipping into a pumpkin-colored sky, we park at the hardware store. The lot is deserted.
“The witch is there,” Nikolas is saying. “The scary, scary witch.”
“If you already know she's there, she can't scare you,” I reply.
Last time we were here, the motion-activated cackling witch came to life and terrified him.
I see no one with vests and name-tags as we enter the store. Someone should be lubricating the sliding doors. They open with a horrible screech.
They close with a clank.
“See, Nikolas. The witch isn't even here.” Unusual that they'd take down all the Halloween decorations already.
We walk from sign to sign: Lumber, Tools, Gravestones, Hardware, Torture, Electrical, Plumbing. Some bats flap about the rafters.
I find a rack of pipe snakes hanging between formaldehyde jars and shrunken heads. I reach for one. It hisses and snaps at me. Nikolas hands me a length of copper pipe and I whap the serpent on the head.
“Can someone help me?” I call. My voice echoes. I hear shuffling steps. “I need something for cleaning drains.”
Around the corner, dragging one foot, shambles a figure in a vest. An eye-ball dangles from a rotting socket. He lifts a jug of Drano in a gangrenous hand.
“Drains!” he moans. I scoop up Nikolas and back away, wielding my pipe.
With a whoosh, my weapon is snatched from my grip by the witch on a broom.
“I knew you'd come back,” she shrieks. “That boy will make a fine stew.”
I unscrew the cap from a can of PVC cement and hand it to Nikolas. He pitches it like a grenade at the zombie's feet. “Drains!” he shouts, trapped in a sticky blue puddle.
The witch circles, followed by a swarm of bats. Nikolas trots to the fire hose. I grab the nozzle while he opens the valve.
“I'm melting!” she screams as I blast her with water. She dissolves into a greasy curl of smoke. Her broom harpoons an ogre inspecting the axes.
The bats chase us across the store, whirling in Nikolas' hair and battering my ears. Nikolas rolls a shop-vac to me. I switch it on and inhale every flapping rodent I see.
Nikolas snaps a tube of liquid nails into a caulking gun and takes aim at a giant spider crawling over bales of insulation. She leaps at me, fangs bared, and he covers her in glue. I sidestep as she splats wriggling on the floor.
We hop up into a fork-lift. A horde of goblins masses between us and the front door.
“Should we lie down the law, Daddy?”
“Lay down the law. Let's lay down the law, Nikolas.”
I mash the pedal and lurch forward. Nikolas fiddles with all the levers until the fork raises to goblin-nostril-level. We plow our way through the crowd, shatter the glass and crush a couple lawn tractors on our way to the parking lot.
“I don't want to take a bath today.”
“That's okay, Niko,” I say. “Maybe tomorrow.”