Halloween Hell

Is being 'fake nice' dangerous?

30 October 2007

Roxie sat on the window sill with her legs crossed, staring glumly across the room at a guy in clown costume. He was Allison’s date, someone she’d met on Match.com. Roxie wondered how Allison was supposed to be able to tell it was really him under all that clown makeup. He could have a pistol or a machete hidden under all that fabric, for all anyone could tell.

Allison was dressed as a gypsy, and Roxie was dressed as the goth Prom Queen, in a dress of ripped black tulle and a red sash with the words Prom Queen 1974 (the year that the Steven King novel, Carrie, was published…something that seemed lost on most of the people at the party.) Roxie had teased her hair into a ratty, matted updo and decorated it with black silk flowers. Graciela had dressed up as a bride. Again. She’d been a bride at the Mermaid Parade, and that was in June. And the real dress up hadn’t even begun yet! Graciela called yesterday to tell Roxie that they had an appointment for a fitting next week. Roxie could hardly bear the though. Sitting in some hideously uncomfortable taffeta gown while Graciela tried on dress after dress?

She watched Allison’s face as the clown reached into his pocket and took out what looked like a worm. He put it to his lips and blew, and inflated a long, pink balloon. Allison was smiling—Roxie recognized the smile; it was her “sugar cube smile”. When Roxie complained to Allison that she was no good at faking a smile, Allison said, “Oh, honey all you have to do is pretend you’re holding a sugar cube on your tongue,” and revealed a smile that showed off her gleaming, pearly teeth, her lips pulled back in a perfect, soft bow. Roxie tried to practice in the mirror, but it came out like a grimace every time. The clown twisted the balloon, twisted, twisted, twisted—flashing a pair of jazz hands and a wide eyed, opened mouthed grin as he handed Allison a tall, pink flower.
Oh, how sweet, thank you, sugar,” Roxie heard Allison say, her accent thickening. Allison shot Roxie a look that lasted no longer than four seconds, but in those four seconds, in spite of Allison’s sugar cube smile, Roxie could read the WTF? in her eyes.

Roxie was about to go over and rescue Allison with a made up emergency when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned and saw a guy dressed in a Rastafarian outfit—complete with foam dreadlocks and cocoa butter painted unevenly over his face.
Hey, how’s it goin’ ma beautiful sistah?” he asked in a Jamaican accent that sounded oddly Middle Eastern.
“Hi, James,” Roxie said. She knew James from college. For four years he slept through his classes and coaxed drunk freshman girls back to his room. The faculty looked the other way—his grandmother was an alumna and a generous donor.

“How come you’re alone? Where’s that Xavier guy?”
“Javier,” she corrected, “and I don’t know where he is. It’s not like I keep track of where he goes. He’s not my boyfriend or anything.”
“He’s not?” James said, raising an eyebrow to balance out his crooked grin. Roxie instantly regretted saying that Javier wasn’t her boyfriend. She took a long sip of her coke and 151 and looked across the room for Allison—she was the one who needed a rescue, now. But Allison wasn’t there.
I’m going to get another drink,” Roxie said, hoping James would stay put, but instead he followed her, and when she got her drink she gulped it down so fast she was out of breath.

When Roxie woke up, it was 4 am. James was snoring drunkenly in the bed—she wasn’t sure whose bed—next to her. Roxie shivered. Her dress lay in a heap on the floor, next to a tangle of something that looked like snakes…the foam braids from James’ costume. She slipped her costume back on; it felt tight and itchy. Nausea gripped her stomach. She tiptoed into the bathroom and vomited, silently. After she rinsed her mouth she went into a living room she’d never seen before, and felt cold all over. She had no idea where she was and no memory of how she got there. She grabbed her purse, which was on the couch, and stole a pair of rubber sandals from the entry way. When she got out onto the street, she felt her cellphone vibrate. She took it out of her purse, and saw that she had three missed calls. All from Javier.  Writen by: Elizabeth Sowden

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