From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
Halloween Night 2006- Dyeland City
As the clock struck 6 on Halloween night, Adam sat in the living room of Serendipity. The usually dapper angel of death was even more regal that night, dressed to the nines as King Arthur. “How are you doing in there?” he yelled to his unseen friend, smiling as he twirled his crown around his finger.
“I'm not sure I like this... I mean he's not exactly... angelic. I'm not sure how I feel about dressing up as him... and for Halloween,” Andrew called out loudly from behind his bedroom door. He looked into the mirror, smoothed his hair, wrinkled his nose, and then stepped into the hallway. He proceeded into the living room and smiled when he saw Adam who was attempting to get his crown into the trash can across the room. “You do realize it's a crown and not a frisbee, Adam? Hey, how come you get to be the king and I just get to be Lancelot?”
Adam shrugged. “Well, when *someone* doesn't decide until Halloween if he wants to attend the Dyeland Halloween costume party, the costume pickings are slim, my friend. Of course, you'd know that if you hadn't refused to set foot in the shop,” Adam teased. “Lancelot and Arthur was about all that was left in our sizes. Well, that and Batman and Robin but I wasn't sure how you felt about green tights, Boy Wonder.”
Andrew chuckled. “You made a wise decision. But that still doesn't tell me how you got to be king.”
“That's the best part of the story. The shop girl said the King Arthur one must be for me. She said I had a 'royal aura' about me,” he grinned and posed regally. “Besides, I wouldn't complain too much if I were you. You stole my wife, after all!” Adam's eyes twinkled devilishly.
“Oops. Sorry,” Andrew answered with a laugh. Then he stepped to the window and stared out at the guests making their way to the nearby Willowveil ballroom. He sighed, beginning to second guess his decision to attend.
Adam moved beside him. “Come on, Andrew, let's go. Just think, at least you're not in the Crusades.”
Andrew smiled slightly then nodded and the two angels of death headed out the door.
The Willowveil ballroom bustled with activity. At a craft booth, guests made scarecrows and carved pumpkins. In another area, the Storyteller and his wife, Sibyll, held court. Their rapt listeners shivered as they told one haunting story after another. But, far and away, the most popular spot was near the door where several women were gathered in order to catch the first glimpse of the two angels of death as they entered. Adam had informed them that they would be attending but had kept mum on their costumes.
“I don't think Andrew will get in the spirit very much. I bet they just, like, switched clothes or something and Andrew's going as Adam and vice versa,” Lady JenniAnn guessed, dressed as one of the more fully clothed versions of Mimi from RENT.
Lady Beth, dressed as Marilyn Monroe during her famed “Happy Birthday” to JFK, shook her head. “I don't think so. Adam's a lot taller. I don't think they could.”
“I am sure my friends will choose costumes you will all love,” Nigel, Princess Yva's guardian angel, piped up as he drew near. Princess Yva had her arm through his, their Robin Hood and Maid Marian costumes perfectly complimenting each other.
Lady JenniAnn sighed. “I sure hope they do...”
“And who, dear lady, are you meant to be?” Nigel asked.
“Um...” She blushed bright red, uncertain how to explain the musical RENT to an angel whose experience with theatrical entertainment was Shakespeare and the like.
“I am afraid I do not understand your costume nor Lady Beth's although they are... very lovely,” he finished, in a doubtful tone. Polite as he was, he couldn't keep his discomfort and confusion with Lady Beth's slinky white dress and Lady JenniAnn's 1980s-style mini-skirt, leg warmers, and bohemian regalia totally hidden.
Princess Yva decided to explain matters to him. “Lady Beth is dressed as Marilyn Monroe, a very famous actress. And Lady JenniAnn is a character from a musical set in the 1980s.”
“Yep, Mimi. She fell in love with a blonde, long-haired lead singer in a band. But he didn't love her back. At least not at first. Ooh do you think Andrew could be prevailed upon to sing with the AOD Band tonight?” Lady JenniAnn looked at her friends hopefully.
Lady Beth laughed to herself, wondering if Lady JenniAnn had really intended that to come out as pointedly as it had. But she decided not to say anything. “I hope our costumes don't make you too uncomfortable, Nigel. If they do, don't worry too much because later we're all going to wear...”
“SHHHH!!! Ixnay on ecret-say,” JenniAnn hissed.
“Is she speaking a foreign language?” Nigel whispered to Princess Yva.
“Pig Latin. I'll explain later.”
Lady Beth frowned. “I don't see why we can't tell Nigel. He's not an angel of death.”
Lady JenniAnn considered this. “I suppose... Okay, so we were thinking...”
The group of four then huddled together and spoke in whispers lest the angels of death sneak in before the women had finished filling the other angel in. After they were through, Nigel smiled brightly.
“A delightful idea! I can imagine Adam and Andrew will be most pleased by your project. Especially Andrew if he is as set against this holiday as you tell me he is.”
“Oh, he is all right...” Princess Yva answered.
They said no more because then a great cry arose. Countess Jennifer came running at them, dressed as a tornado and truly looking very tornadic as she tore towards them. “Andrew... Adam... in the yard... coming here... look like...” She was breathless but had a goofy grin plastered on her face.
Karen (aka Little Red Riding Hood for the night) practically skipped to the group with Jess O'Neill (looking very dignified in her Air Force colonel uniform) following. “Grab JenniAnn someone. Before she falls,” Karen said with a smile as delirious as Countess Jennifer's.
Lady JenniAnn looked at her friend, slightly indignant. “I am not going to fall. I'm not *that* clumsy.”
“And you've not seen Andrew's costume. You'll fall,” Jess agreed.
“I won't fall! Honestly...”
A thumping sound on the walkway outside was quickly followed by Bunny, dressed as the Big Bad Wolf, stepping into the castle entry. She bowed dramatically. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, King Arthur and Lancelot du Lac.”
There was a moment of stunned and admiring silence then as the two angels of death entered the ballroom.
“Crikey...” a plaintive cry interrupted the hush.
“Oh, my dear lady! Let me help you to your feet!” Nigel held his hand out to Lady JenniAnn who was, as Karen had predicted, sprawled on the floor in a swoon.
Karen and Jess started laughing.
“It was the high heeled shoes. Lost my balance on em, not being used to em,” Lady JenniAnn insisted but her smile said otherwise.
“Are you okay, uhh... Mimi?” Andrew asked, guessing at her costume.
“Oh yes... very well... Very, very well, Lancelot,” JenniAnn grinned from ear to ear as she stared at Andrew. “And yourself?”
“He's grumpy as always. I had to pick out his costume. He wouldn't even set foot in the store,” Adam answered for his friend.
“You chose well, Adam,” Countess Jennifer responded. “You both look...”
“Luscious!” Lady JenniAnn and Princess Yva interrupted in unison. They both turned beet red then realizing they'd spoke aloud.
Adam laughed loudly. “Then our task is accomplished. I even told Andrew, 'Andrew, buddy, I think we should look luscious this year.'”
“You only think he's joking,” Andrew teased his friend.
Karen giggled. “Whatever your intentions, you both look wonderful tonight. I'm just glad you decided to come, Andrew.”
Andrew sighed. “I've decided to just think of it as a costume party. That involves a lot of pumpkins and scarecrows. I still say Halloween gives death...” Andrew saw the faces of his human friends begin to fall and changed his mind about continuing. “Nevermind. Did I see some pumpkin pie?”
The group began to chat enthusiastically again and several scrambled to show Andrew and Adam all the various goodies they had made.
The party continued on til half past eight that night. The group filled up on the festive treats, danced, played games, and, to everyone's delight, Andrew and Adam and Henry (who could only make a brief appearance due to an assignment that he could only say involved excess amounts of candy corn) performed “Don't Fear the Reaper.” After that, Andrew noticed the Dyelanders beginning to stir nervously.
“Is something going on that I don't know about?” he finally asked Jess who was standing nearest him.
“You could say that,” she answered secretively. “This party was only the first part of our evening.”
“Oh really?” Andrew raised an eye brow, concerned. He approached Adam. “I think the ladies have something planned.”
“Hmm... to ply us with sweet treats so we never leave?” Adam asked, popping another marshmallow spider with licorice legs into his mouth.
Andrew chuckled. “I think they've all ready tried that several times. No, I'm afraid it's something else...”
Just then Lady JenniAnn hopped on stage and grabbed the microphone. “Hey everyone. Wow! This has been quite a party. Everyone looks really great. Especially Art, Lance, and Robin.” She waved to the angels who blushed and smiled. “Anyhow, I hope you don't feel like you were asked here under false pretenses, Adam and Andrew but... this party was actually only prelude. In a few moments we'll all be leaving here to take to various neighborhoods on Earth and do some very important trick-or-treating. We'd really love it if you would join us.” Everyone applauded then and began to gather their things. Except Andrew who remained seated in his chair, arms folded across his chest.
“Andrew, c'mon,” Adam called, drawing back from the group exiting the castle.
Andrew shook his head.
Adam shook his head and smiled. “As your king on this night I command you to stand up and follow the lovely ladies out the door.”
Andrew hung his head and didn't budge.
“Andrew, are you unwell, mate?” Nigel asked, drawing near when he sensed the conflict.
“I can't believe they're asking me to face all those grim reapers and ghouls... They know how it makes me feel,” Andrew explained to the two angels.
Adam frowned. “Andrew, you'll be with friends. No one's going to let anyone upset you.”
Some of the ladies noticed the angels weren't among them then and re-entered the castle.
“I knew he wouldn't come,” Lady JenniAnn moaned once she saw Adam and Nigel speaking to Andrew. “It's all ruined.”
“Don't say that just yet,” Lady Beth encouraged. “We'll talk to him.”
“Nigel and Adam are very good with words. I'm sure they can persuade him,” Princess Yva added.
Karen, Bunny, and Countess Jennifer nodded. “And we can try to persuade him, too,” the latter suggested.
Jess shrugged. “We might as will give it a shot. It's worth a try, right?”
“Of course,” Lady JenniAnn agreed.
With that they all approached the table where Andrew sat.
“Andrew, please won't you come with us?” Princess Yva asked in her sweetest, most compassionate tone.
“We promise it won't be anything like what you're worried will happen,” Jess added.
Andrew forced a smile. “I'm sure you would but you can't control what those trick-or-treaters do or how they dress. I really enjoyed this party but I think now I just want to have a quiet night at my house.”
“But we don't want you to spend this night alone. I mean, of course with God, but... ya know,” Lady JenniAnn put her hand over his on the table.
“That's very sweet, Lady, but I'll be fine. Thank you for asking but...”
“Perhaps I could stay with Andrew?” Nigel offered.
Princess Yva looked upset then and Adam noted it.
“No Nigel, I'll stay. You really should observe 21st century Halloween. It would be a good learning experience for you. Besides, a good king watches over his knights.” He smiled then and restruck his regal pose.
There were a great many sighs of regret and a few more attempts at convincing Andrew to come with them. But eventually the castle ballroom was empty of everyone but the two angels of death.
After the Dyelanders had left, Andrew and Adam returned to Andrew's house. Andrew sat in front of the TV, pretending to watch a wildlife documentary about bats. Adam re-entered the living room and held a bottle of ginger ale out to Andrew.
“Drink up. We might as well have some fun,” Adam directed then took a sip of orange juice.
“I really don't need to be watched over,” Andrew protested.
Adam shrugged. “The ladies feel better knowing someone is with you.”
Andrew nodded, accepting that. The two were silent then until there was a commercial.
Andrew shuffled uncomfortably in his chair. “I know there's something you want to say so you may as well say it, Adam.”
Adam smiled. “You could tell?”
“You're not as hard to read as you think.”
“You've been an AOD since 1865. One hundred and forty one years. How many humans have you met that really accepted that? I don't mean right before they went Home. But really knew who you were and lived with that knowledge and didn't look at you with a slightly worried look?”
“A few. Not many.”
“One hundred forty one years and only a few. It just seems to me that it would be a shame to not spend whatever time you could with the ones that do accept you.” Adam looked at Andrew to gage his reaction.
“But it's Hallo...”
“But they're our friends. They wanted us to spend this time with them. The Father could have sent us on assignments tonight but He didn't. Don't you think may be there's a reason for that?”
Andrew smiled softly and considered this.
Adam began to hum to himself. “You've got 30 seconds to make up your mind or I'm going to serenade you with a medley of songs from 'Camelot.'”
Andrew chuckled. “I think the ladies would be very jealous to learn I got to hear you sing 'How to Handle a Woman' when they didn't.”
Adam grinned. “It's possible.”
Andrew sighed. “They could be any where. We don't know where on Earth they went.”
“May be not. But Someone does. Just ask.”
“Of course.” Andrew looked heavenward then and smiled with satisfaction after a moment. “Okay, let's go, Adam.”
A moment later the room was empty.
Adam and Andrew walked the sidewalks of the neighborhood they had appeared in. They were on the look out for their friends.
Andrew frowned. “I don't see a tornado, movie star, Riding Hood, Maid Marian, Robin Hood, Air Force colonel, or an exotic dancer on her off night...”
Adam stopped. “An exotic dancer?! Who!?”
Andrew laughed. “JenniAnn never subjected you to RENT? That's Mimi.”
Adam shook his head. “I never did see RENT. I just figured she was going as an 80s era singer I'd missed out on.”
“Not quite. But really, I'm confused. Countess Jennifer's costume especially should have got our attention by now. How many tornado costumes could there be?”
“You wouldn't think very many. Let's keep looking. Here, we've not checked that cul-de-sac.” Adam pointed the way and Andrew followed. Once they turned the corner they both stopped and stared at the scene before them. As with every other block, it was teeming with trick-or-treaters. But here there was an important difference. Among the ghouls and princesses and superheroes drifted people of a very different sort. Drifting among the children were adults dressed in light colored suits and others in hooded cloaks over light dresses.
“It's them...” Andrew whispered.
A hooded figure a few feet away from the two angels of death looked up from a child she had just been speaking to and caught Andrew's eye. “You came!” Lady JenniAnn cried and ran to Andrew and Adam and hugged them both. “We so wanted you to come. To see...”
“Lady JenniAnn, what is this?” Andrew asked, wide-eyed and looking at their friends scattered around.
“Guys, come here!” JenniAnn called to her friends. Lady Beth, Jess, Princess Yva, Countess Jennifer, Karen, and Nigel's faces all broke into wide smiles and they approached.
Adam and Andrew surveyed their friends' changed appearances. “Where are your costumes?” Adam asked.
“These are our costumes. Those others were just cover up for our plan,” Jess explained.
“Your plan?” Andrew questioned, eye brow arched again.
Karen nodded. “You said you hated Halloween because it gave death a bad reputation.”
“The grim reaper costumes really do set a bad precedent,” Princess Yva picked up the explanation.
Lady Beth stepped forward then. “So we wanted to do something about that. So we got these angel of death costumes. Like the real angels of death. Not scary.”
“But kind and compassionate. Like you
both, our friends," Countess Jennifer added, looking with
kindness at Andrew and Adam.
Lady JenniAnn smiled, tearing up a bit. “So we've been telling whomever asks what we are that we're angels of death. Or happy reapers if they prefer. Cause, like you said, there's life on the other side, too. It's not something to be frightened of. You taught us that, both of you. And we wanted to help you get that message out.”
“I only just learned of this earlier today but I must tell you the ladies have put a great deal of time and effort into this,” Nigel piped up. “I am so very glad you are able to see what they decided to do for you.”
Adam and Andrew looked at each other,
neither quite knowing what to say. Adam spoke first, a
slight tremor in his usually level voice, "This is so sweet of
all of you to do this for Andrew."
Princess Yva shook her head. "It
wasn't just for Andrew, we did it for you, too. You may
not talk about it as much as Andrew does but we know that people
saying negative things about your job gets to you, too,
Adam." With those words she hugged the elder angel of
Andrew brushed at a tear and looked up
at the stars, thanking his Father for allowing him to be there
despite Andrew's earlier refusal. That done, he looked to
each of the ladies and Nigel and Adam. "I'm really
grateful to all of you. That you took time out of your
celebration to come do this for us... it means a lot. And
you all look so great. I'm sure you would all be great
angels of death."
Jess hugged Andrew and Adam. "We
learned from the best."
There was an exchange of hugs that
lasted for several moments , drawing curious looks from
trick-or-treaters who soon lost interest. Emotional
grown-ups were no match for promises of caramel, marshmallow,
chocolate, and all manner of sugary confection.
Andrew sighed contentedly. "Well,
are we going to trick-or-treat some more?"
Lady Beth laughed. "I never
thought I'd see Andrew asking to go trick-or-treating."
Andrew shrugged and smiled. "I
could get used to this kind of trick-or-treating. With
this sort of company."
Naturally, all the women awwed and cooed
over that remark. Then Nigel led the way to a secluded
area from which the group disappeared, appearing seconds later
in another neighborhood. They had only walked one block
when Lady JenniAnn gasped.
"I forgot something!" she cried, rifling
through a bag she was carrying. "I think you guys'
costumes are beyond awesome but felt you were missing just one
thing... Here they are! I've got two empty halves of
coconuts here and I'm gonna bang em together," she
paraphrased with a grin.
Adam laughed loudly. "And, I
suppose, the coconut was carried to your bag by a five ounce
bird who carried it by the husk?"
"Of course it did, beating its wings
forty three times every second!" Princess Yva gleefully
continued the Monty Python joke.
It was Andrew who laughed loudest of all
as Lady JenniAnn struck up the cloppity-clopping of the coconuts
as the group journeyed into the night. Through out the
remainder of All Hallow's Eve, a crowd of angels of death spread
the message of Life, God's love, and optimism in honor of their
two angel of death friends as "King Arthur" and "Sir Lancelot"
looked on proudly and gratefully. Andrew stored it all
away in his memory, knowing he would always want to recall at
least one Halloween that didn't give death a bad reputation.
Credits: HUGE thanks to Yvette (the real Princess Yva) for suggesting Arthur and Lancelot as the AODs' costumes. That element really inspired me. Easy to guess why, I'm sure. Boy, I can understand Guenevere's struggles if she had to pick between two guys looking like our AODs... Thanks to Yvette also for submitting Princess Yva and Nigel's costumes, to Liz for Lady Beth's, Karen's for Karen's and Duchess Bunny's, Jennifer for Countess Jennifer's, and Jess for Jess O'Neill's. And, of course, thanks to them for allowing me to write about their characters.
Now for the pop culture
credits: Of course, and as always whether stated
or not, to the people behind "Touched by an
Angel." Also to Jonathan Larson for creating
RENT, an endless source of inspiration. To the
Monty Python guys who made coconuts really, really
funny in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
Lines from that movie were paraphrased in LJA's,
Adam's, and Princess Yva's final lines in the
story. And, finally and most importantly, to God
for creating two guys that one would want to spend a
good portion of time imagining dressed as King Arthur
and Sir Lancelot.
Happy Halloween to everyone!