“That was easier than I thought,” said Babs.
“Too easy,” said Sheila.
“He won’t be a happy chappie,” said Constance.
“I don’t think he really does happy,” said Gwen.
The Graveyard Tap sat, unsurprisingly, on the border of a graveyard. From there the main road in town led up to the shops or down to a grid of residential streets. With the shops all closed for the evening, the four friends headed down the hill.
Gwen and Constance walked arm in arm, mainly because Constance wanted to enjoy the solid state that Halloween always loaned to her for twenty-four hours. She’d return to passing through walls and spying on the pub’s locals tomorrow.
Besides the Graveyard Tap being Constance’s haunt, it was used for the HAGS yearly get-together because of the delight that the locals took in celebrating Halloween. External Christmas lights were switched on, but Santa and his reindeers were replaced by ghouls, ghosts, and grinning devils. Pumpkins, carved into cute or demonic designs, guarded every doorstep. The pavements were filled with an onslaught of trick-or-treating children and their teen or parental guardians. For one day of the year, all things scary were celebrated.
“So cute,” said Gwen as they walked past a trio of children who were all dressed as fairies.
“I prefer them,” said Sheila as a teenage zombie fought to separate two warring demon toddlers.
“Oh, how pretty.” Constance pointed to a boy and girl who held a plastic bucket of sweets between them. Their faces were painted like colourful skulls, adorned with flowers. The girl had marigolds in her hair. “I do prefer the Mexican approach to Halloween costumes.”
“Dia de los Muertos,” said Gwen. “That’s what they call Halloween over there.”
“I still prefer Samhain,” said Sheila, grinning as another fight broke out, this time between two teens. “Reminds me of the old days. Good and bad.”
“Do you smell that?” Babs took in a deep, shoulder-raising breath. “Someone’s lit a bonfire.” She pulled her coat closer. “Is it just me or has it suddenly gone cold?”
“Good evening, ladies, again.” Mr Mortimer appeared to have recovered from the incident with the chicken leg. If you looked very closely, there was a broken blood vessel in one eye, but the blood was deep purple instead of red. “Shall we get on with this?”
“But we were having such good fun,” said Gwen. “Babs, can’t you do anything?”
Babs turned to Sheila. Sheila sighed and rolled her eyes. She looked around at the trick-or-treaters, weighing up her options.
“Please don’t hurt us,” she cried out, pressing her hands together and raising them in a feigned expression of appeal. “We’re just four old ladies. We can’t defend ourselves against a brute like you.”
A couple of the parents turned around to watch, gave Mr Mortimer the once over, and then returned their attention to their sweet-hunting children
With a tut, Sheila tried again. “No, no, you shan’t take my friends.” She flung herself across Babs, shielding her friend with her arms. “Ravish me if you must. But leave them alone.”
A group of teens edged closer, rather confused by the sight of a sweet-looking old lady thrusting her chest out at a strange man in a top hat. A couple more parents turned to watch.
“Ravish you?” said Mr Mortimer. “I don’t-”
“These are innocent women,” Sheila
cried, looking at the passersby. “They don’t deserve to be manhandled.”
“I don’t think it’s working,” said
Gwen as the passersby continued to pass on by. “Sheila’s knack at inciting a
crowd isn’t what it was.”
“Maybe this will help,” said
Hunching down in the shadow between
Gwen and Babs, Constance wrapped her arms around her head. When she looked up
again, her elderly countenance had been replaced by that of a five-year-old
girl dressed in a blue gingham dress.
“He’s hurting my grandma,” she wailed
as she rushed to Sheila’s side. “Don’t let him hurt my grandma.”
“What are you doing to her?” One of
the parents, a woman in her thirties trailing a little boy dressed as a
werewolf with her, stepped in between Sheila and Mr Mortimer.
“Don’t you worry, sweetie.” A teenage
girl bent down to reassure Constance. “We won’t let him hurt her.”
“I think you’d better go.” One of the
dads got involved, prodding Mr Mortimer in the chest. “We don’t like perverts
“Pervert?” said Mr Mortimer. “I’m not
a pervert. I was just-”
“We know what you were doing.”
Another dad joined the first. “It’s not right.”
“And we’re backing away, backing away.”
Sheila took Constance’s hand as the two of them retreated from the growing,
“Everyone together,” said Gwen, reaching out to them all. “Quick, while nobody’s looking and Mr M is busy.”
“What do you have in mind?” said Babs as the four of them formed a ring.
“You’ll see.” Stepping on tiptoes, Gwen closed her eyes, hummed a couple of notes, and said, “Fairy dust and moonbeams bright, cloak us now in veil of night.” She clashed her walking stick on the tarmac. A sprinkle of sparkles scattered up into the air before floating down to cover them all.
“That’s a bit twee,” said Sheila.
“Well, I am a fairy godmother, dear.”
The sound of the crowd who surrounded Mr Mortimer dropped and muffled as if the four ladies had stuffed cotton wool in their ears.
“Has it worked?” asked Constance, now back in her elderly form. “Can they see us?”
“I’d say not,” said Babs as a child crunching on a lollipop walked between their legs without a glance at any of them. “But just to be safe.”
She picked up her walking stick and pointed the tip into the night sky. A cool breeze circled the four of them, riffling their hair and making them shiver.
“Over rooftops, chimneys high, on the wind now let us fly.”
Constance and Gwen both let out a little ‘oh’ and a giggle as the four friends lifted off the ground. It wasn’t until they had reached the rooftop of the Graveyard Tap that Babs lowered her cane.
“Nicely done, Babs,” said Gwen.
“Not so bad yourself,” said Babs.
“I suppose we’d best not hang around,” said Sheila. “Just in case he comes back.”
“I don’t think the townsfolk will let him,” said Constance. “But you’re right. Better safe than non-existent.”
“Same time, same place next year?” said Babs.
“Of course,” said Constance.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Gwen.
“I suppose so,” said Sheila.
Four old ladies walked into a pub on
Halloween, but it was a witch, a ghost, a demon, and a fairy godmother who left
that night. And Death, of course.