Ellie Rocca hated Halloween, but that didn’t stop her from taking charge of the very first Mt. Abrams Halloween Scavenger Hunt. Mary Rose Reed, organizer extraordinaire, wanted to supply the entertainment, a juggling clown named Mr. Scarecrow, and Ellie knew it was easier to let Mary Rose have her way than even begin to argue. But when Mr. Scarecrow turned up dead, Mary Rose was more than willing to let Ellie take over.
Trouble was, Ellie had sworn off meddling in murder. She promised her boyfriend, police detective Sam Kinali, that she would never again put herself in danger by sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. So when the main suspect was a friend of Ellie’s daughter Cait, and Cait believed him innocent, Ellie deputized all her friends to do the snooping for her, and to help find out who killed Mr. Scarecrow
I never liked Halloween.
I hadn’t liked it since I was nine years old and my brother and I went trick-or-treating and the Coopersmiths gave us mealy apples. All the other kids in the neighborhood told us they were poisoned apples. Even though my mother insisted they were not poisoned, I didn’t see her offering to take a bite to prove her point, so I was convinced from that evening on that Halloween was just a giant ploy to kill off small children.
I know. That was over forty years ago. You’d have thought I’d gotten over it by now.
But I never did.
So when Halloween rolled around in Mt. Abrams, where everyone knew everyone else, where kids felt safe to run up and down the streets and ride bikes to the lake unsupervised, it was a big deal for everyone. The entire community became involved. There was dunking for apples and a few spooky-themed games and a ‘haunted house’. There was a ‘Best Costume’ contest at the old firehouse. People decorated with pumpkins and ghosts and witches, and for days the air was filled with spooky sounds coming from hidden speakers.
Normally, I loved my community. I was involved. I had even joined the Garden Club earlier in the year, partially as a favor to Lynn Fahey to disrupt Mary Rose Reed’s evil plan to kill of the hydrangeas in front of the library. But, eventually I found that I liked the Garden Club, and was actually learning a few things that might keep my so-called garden alive.
Then Halloween reared it’s ugly head and Mary Rose Reed, Garden Club president and Mt. Abrams organizer extraordinaire, got the great idea of a scavenger hunt, instead of the usual hanging-out by the clubhouse, dunking for apples, playing a few games, and generally letting the costumed segment of the population run wild.
As I said, it was a great idea. But then she had to start telling us more details, and the idea went from great to awful. Obviously, she had never been involved in a real scavenger hunt. Those poor kids would be bored to tears.
So, I raised my hand. And opened my mouth.
I should have known better. One reason I normally don’t join things is not because I don’t play well with others, but rather, I think I can do a much better job all by myself, without all the hand-raising and discussion and voting on things.
By the end of the meeting, I was in charge of the scavenger hunt.
Now, that wouldn’t have been all that bad, but Mary Rose was never one to cede power gracefully, so while I was in charge of planning the hunt, she would be responsible for hiring the entertainment. Specifically, Mr. Scarecrow, a professional clown and juggler that she insisted would be a perfect addition to the festivities.
After what happened to Mr. Scarecrow, you’d better believe I never raised my hand at another meeting again. Ever.