Of Masks and Costumes
One of my favorite short stories is Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman”. For those of you who have never read it, you can find it in his collection “Night Shift. In it the reader gets to sit in on a man’s visit to his psychiatrist. The patient is unloading years of grief and guilt over letting a nightmarish creature habitually terrorize and eventually strangle to death his young children in their cribs. But the grizzly scenes of the toddlers’ cruel deaths are not the defining moments of the story.
Here is the kicker. After the patient leaves when his allotment of time has passed, he goes to make an appointment for the next visit and finds the lobby empty. On returning to the office he discovers to his horror that the psychiatrist he just poured out his soul to is in actuality the Boogeyman responsible for his anguish. The creature retreats into a dark closet holding a mask of the psychiatrist in its claws. As it shuts the door it whispers “Sweet…so sweet.” The monster was behind the mask. In costume it delved deeper into the malice it created to experience it more intimately.
My children’s story “The Costume” approaches the monster in guise subject on a much lighter level. It follows a local bunch of kids on their magical night of trick-or-treating, and the strange child in the scariest costume they have ever seen that joins them in their fun. Adults are appalled and disgusted in his presence. The teachers at the Halloween Dance tremble in fear. Neighborhood dogs howl and run in the opposite direction when he passes by. Not to give it all away, but when “The Costume” is taken off at the end of the night, the reader may discover that the monster on the outside may have hidden another within.
I am looking into avenues to have “The Costume” published by this Halloween. I enjoyed writing the whimsical rhyming tale, and making the illustrations was an absolute delight! I really want to share it with all of you Make Believers out there!
So, what are you going to dress up as this Halloween? And is your costume just a cover for something…wicked? ; )
The porch light will be on at the tree house. I’ll have some goodies for any of you brave enough to show up.