The year was 1980 and I was in the 5th grade.
In those days, Halloween was celebrated on the actual date of October 31, regardless of football schedules. The trick-or-treating would commence as soon as the sun set. I lived in a basic neighborhood in Bradenton, Florida and my best friend, Lisa, lived right down the street.
Since Halloween landed on a weekend that year, I was allowed to spend the night with my friend; therefore, we were going out into the sugar filled darkness together... and...WITHOUT ANY SUPERVISION.
After all, we were big 5th graders, and despite the rumors of bike riding candy thieves, we were not scared to go trick-or-treating alone. So the preparations began.
I had not put too much thought into my costume that year. I figured I would go classic dressing as a basic witch. I had the hat and black dress, but the shoes were proving to be an issue. There was no way I would show my green face in public wearing non-witchy shoes. All I could find were church sandals or dirty tennis shoes, and that was not going to be good enough. As I made my way to Lisa's house, I was hoping she would have some nice black shoes that would work.
I was in luck. Lisa dug out a perfect pair of black shoes. The only negative quality to them was the fact that they were slightly too big, but I was not going to let that stop me. I figured I would be able to manage keeping them on during the couple hours of candy begging. So we set off on our adventure.
As any experienced trick-or-treaters know, there always has to be some kind of game plan. After living in the same neighborhood most of our lives, we knew which houses gave out the best candy and which ones to avoid. We had to maneuver through the streets in the most efficient manner in order to prevent missing any turned on light. We were having a typical Halloween experience ... until.....
THE BIKE RIDING CANDY THIEVES!!!!
We had managed to get our bags half full by the time several teenagers showed up. They made multiple attempts at "drive-by robbery" by grabbing at our bags from the advantage of their bikes. Thankfully, they missed each time. Yet, even though they managed to fail at getting our candy, they did manage to scare us the death.
At that point in the evening, Lisa and I decided it was best just to make our way back home as fast as we could. The problem was that we were several blocks away and did not want to remain on the street. We figured it was best to walk door to door cutting through each yard, avoiding the possibility of another attack from the bikers. So began our final begging of the night.
Our slow progress back home was rather uneventful. We knocked at every door on the street regardless of the light. Our nervousness caused us to continually look over our shoulders and speed quickly from house to house. This defense was seeming to work. Finally, we were close. All we needed to do was jump over the short shrubs separating the last house from Lisa's house and we would be home free. With great relief we entered the safety of her yard.
SOMEONE JUMPED OUT OF THE TREE RIGHT WHERE I WAS STANDING!
I was so freaked out that I jumped RIGHT OUT OF MY SHOES! Those black shoes were too difficult to run in, so I left them behind.
At full speed I raced toward the front of the house and slid to a stop on the door step as I saw my friend, Lisa, running across the street into her neighbor's yard screaming.
As the chaos passed and I assessed the damage to my tights and knees, we discovered that it was her brother that had scared me out of my shoes. He had no idea we were already freaked out. He just had perfect timing.
Whenever my kids want me to tell them a scary story, this is the one I tell. The pure terror I felt that night as I ran for my life has never been matched. Thankfully, it was nothing more than a silly prank.
Well, that's it. My scariest story I can share. I hope you had a peaceful and enjoyable Halloween this year. And I hope you kept your shoes on.