We buy the candy, of course. There's always one family, maybe they're new, maybe they'll just never understand like the rest of us, and their kids shouldn't suffer. If their knock reaches up through old creaking stairwells and the outed porch bulbs do not deter, we smile and we drop some candy in their bags. They look down unable to help themselves to see what they got and we glance past them down the street and sidewalks and we shoot the parents a warning and we close the door. And we work our way back in the dark, not even a lamp, not even a candle that night.
Even so the knock does come, a singular thing, a knuckle shattering skin peeling rapping in steady rhythm, patient, expectant. One, the eyes widen, two the skin prickles, three the spine shivers and silence comes upon huge. The city is quiet for once and anything, anything for a passing car, for wind rustled garbage but there is nothing. The knocks come again as before. One, the eyes wince, two the skin itches, three the spine arches and the pause is a thousand years of pounding blood filled eardrums and sensory deprivation. The knocks come again as before.
Locks come undone and doors open slowly and heavy footfalls sound through the dark of the tenement halls, for we keep the lights out. We are not so foolish to think he would be fooled but the lights are inviting and this one is unwelcome, whether he comes or not we must know ourselves that he is unwelcome.
The knocking stops on the way to the front door, the stirring inside not unseen. He waits with screen door ajar and his bag opened expectantly. Nothing is said. He has a hint of a smile on the blur of his face and he lifts the bag just slightly. We raise our hands over it and they tremble, empty but holding a burden. He nods and the smile widens to a gleam of yellow and gray and white. Our hands open, their contents spilling into the bag. A twitch of sanity tries to catch them again, in the half second before the sound hits us, a sound like a chip of bone falling among ten thousand like it, more failed hiders in the dark.
We keep the lights out on Halloween, here in the tenements, though it cannot hide us from the Marrowman. We keep them out so as not to see what is left when we come back.