Jackie is out doing the Monster Mash in London, so it's up to me to say a few literary words about the spookiest of holidays. Pumpkin Day. Trick or Treat. Halloween.
Let me say up front: I do like Halloween. But I don't love it. I have friends who really love it. They love the fake blood, the rubber spleen hanging out of their shirt, the eyeball falling out of the socket. I even have a friend who got married on Halloween. He's now divorced. Hmmm. Or should I say...Spooky. Wasn't there a song about that?
I like Halloween enough to have written it into the climax of my first novel. In "The Pardon" Jack Swyteck chases the bad guys all the way down to Key West on Halloween. The Key West Citizen even gave me a rave review, which probably wasn't enough to counterbalance the thrashing in Publisher's Weekly, but what they wrote was still nice:
"As the protagonist walks down Simonton Street on the way to meet the killer in an Old town masnion, the Flintstones dance by singing their theme song. Later when a chase ensues down Duval Street, the main characters pass peacocks, plow into Cleopatra, rip through a Chinsese dragon and bump into the Beatles. It's classic Key West."
Apart from reminding me how quickly pop culture references in works of fiction become dated (The Pardon was published in 1994), that little blurb reminds me how much fun I had writing those scenes set in the middle of Fantasy Fest. Never heard of Key West Fantasy Fest? What's wrong with you? It's only the world's largest collection of drunks who take hours to put on elaborate costumes and then jump at the first opportunity to rip them off and get naked. Sometimes it's just a little naked, like this...
Other times, it's way too naked, like this...
And other times...well, let's leave a little something to the imagination.
Nakedness on Halloween is something I've had to adjust to since coming to Florida. See, I grew up in northern Illinois. By Halloween, there was at the very least frost on the pumpkin (a phrase that takes on a whole new meaning at Fantasy Fest, I assure you), and sometimes even snow on the ground. As kids, we more often than not ended up wearing winter coats over our costumes. In Florida, however, it's beach weather, without fail. Supposed to be 92 here on Saturday, which means that, once again, there will be people getting naked who have absolutely no business getting naked. Like these folks.
Dear God. Somebody please pass the M&Ms. And the Pepto Bismol.