EXCERPT – The Mask

The man at number 603 laughed — loudly and rudely — at our costumes, and slammed the door in our faces. Chris and Bren shrugged it off, but Vince was angry.

“Pathetic. Total lack of community spirit. I think I may find some outstanding traffic violations on him I can resurrect tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll post an old cabbage through his letterbox,” Chris offered.

“I could punch his lights out,” Bren announced, enthusiastically.

I rolled my eyes. Things weren’t progressing exactly as I’d planned, and we’d only just started.

The sheet tugged at my arm. “Joey, like I s-said, I c-could …”

“Not now, Gaz,” murmured Chris, absently, interrupting him. There was a glint in his eye. “Leave this to me.” On red-painted, perfectly-formed legs, he marched to the next door and hammered on it.

Things didn’t improve.

The family at 609 had a puppy, and it leapt up and bit Chris in the leg in its ‘youthful enthusiasm’ — or so the kids there insisted. They looked to be on their own, and were obviously terrified that someone would come and take it away. Bren muttered it was highly likely this had been suggested before. Vince cowered in the corner of the corridor, avoiding the whole confrontation, blaming his allergies. Chris hopped up and down, cursing all pets and children alike, his tail whipping across his buttocks like some BDSM flogging session on auto-pilot, and demanding nothing less than ritual dismemberment of the beast in compensation.

Gaz helped me catch hold of the bouncing puppy and we shooed it and the kids back indoors. Homicide — or puppy-cide, for which I was sure only Chris would know the correct word and I wasn’t asking him right now — was circumvented.

“Joey.” Gaz sounded very muffled inside his sheet but I put an encouraging arm around his shoulder regardless. He made a strange, gasping sound. “I’m t-trying to tell you, I c-could …”

“Not now, Gaz,” Vince announced, pushing to the front with a flamboyant sweep of his cape. “I’ll take the next one.”

The attractive young woman at 611 certainly gave us more civil attention than anyone so far that evening. She looked us all up and down very slowly, then she handed me a whole bag of assorted sweets from one of the more exclusive West End department stores. Chris started peering inside to check for caramels, and Bren looked as flushed as if he were twelve all over again. I was just beginning to thank her when she turned away from us all very deliberately and concentrated on Vince alone.

While we watched and listened, open-mouthed — except for Chris, who was chewing three caramels all at once — the young woman proceeded to open her robe wider than anyone’s modesty should ever allow, and offered Vince a night of Treats of a very different kind. From her overly full, collagen-injected lips issued a catalogue of lurid suggestions that had my ears turning pink, Chris’s blond head tipping sideways in interest, and Bren’s jaw dropping. She was interested in investigating several different positions, she said, utilising many different accessories. Vince was the kind of handsome, confident guy she was looking for. She was most frank — and most insistent.

“Guys,” I hissed. “We’re trick or treating for fun, remember?”

Gaz coughed in warning beside me. I suppose my words could have been ambiguous, at least as far as Vince was concerned.

Vince looked sorely tempted, that was the problem. It took me and Gaz a couple of hard kicks to get him moving along the corridor again. Bren was still looking stunned, his mouth moving slightly as if he was trying to remember some new words for future reference. I noticed Chris had tangled his hand in the tentacles around Bren’s buttocks, and was stroking possessively. Their eyes met and Chris grinned. The red-fingered devil and the green-scaled Swamp Monster certainly made for an interesting sexual concept.

“Anyone think to ask which suite Johnny Depp uses?” I asked, more from hope than expectation.

Gaz coughed again. “Joey, I r-really think you sh-should listen t-to …”

“Not now Gaz,” Bren snapped.

“Hey,” I said, suddenly quite sharp myself. “I think maybe you should all lay off Gaz like that. You should let him get his piece said. In my opinion, he always has plenty of sensible things to offer –“

Bren strode past me, emboldened by Chris feeling him up, and ignoring every word I said. “My turn, everyone?”

Things went from the bizarre to the brutal.

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