I knew vaguely that every Friday night at our Target there’s a local car show in the parking lot. It’s pretty casual, anybody with an antique or otherwise interesting vehicle pulls up into the far end of the lot, grabs a space, pops their hood, and just hangs out.
And then I remembered that a friend had told me about a horror-themed ride she’d seen there about a week previously.
It didn’t take us long to find it, parked there on the outskirts of the show. Like it didn’t quite belong. Or maybe everybody else was keeping a safe distance from it. Perhaps both. After all, this car would be the last ride of every single grease monkey and gawker on that asphalt.
It was a hearse.
But all that last paragraph is to say I don’t know anything about cars, and in this particular case I had no idea what the year or make or model of this particular death-mobile we were looking at was. I googled some of the words in chrome on the body and came up with a Cadillac Fleetwood. A reader more knowledgeable about hearses will have to educate me on the rest.
What I saw, was a gray hearse with purple flames and a chrome skull ornament on its hood, and license plates that read “D-O-A.” Again, style points.
But, you see, this hearse was completely Halloween’d out.
“Sure. There’s candy in the back,” he said between his pointy teeth, motioning with his cane to a pair of plastic drums on either side of generic Gary Oldman, one full of Dum-Dums and the other of Halloween-packaged pretzels. And that, folks, is the time I failed to teach my children the lesson of not taking candy from strangers in a parking lot.
He did tell me that he has a few friends that have hearses as well, and sometimes thy take them out joyriding in an impromptu funeral procession. Although I’ve never seen the deranged convoy, it makes me happy to know that it’s happening somewhere nearby while I’m sitting warm and drunk in front of my television.
And then he told me, “I didn’t want to scare the kids, but check this out.” His hand moved to a hidden switch on the coffin and out popped through the Spanish moss a hissing snake with glowing eyes. I like that way of communicating so much better than “What do you do for a living?” or “Where are you from?”
We didn’t go too deep, me and Gerry. Just long enough for me to fully document that moment of existence and to get a couple Dum-Dums for my kids. But man, did I dig that moment.
And then my family and I went into Target and checked out normal and suddenly a-little-more-hollow Halloween, wherein I tried to talk myself into buying a werewolf rug and out of buying 15 packs of caramel apple Twizzlers. Because ain’t nothing wrong with mainstream Halloween, either. Not yet, anyway.