“You’ll catch a death of cold, standing out there on the porch. Come in and warm yourselves.”
Before the two boys could say ‘Get away from me’ and ‘Leave me alone, you freak,’ the old woman’s strong arms and sharp fingernails dug into their costumes, dragging them inside.
The front door slammed closed.
“Now. What was I saying about getting warm?” She flung her long, silver hair over her shoulder and cackled.
A parrot sat atop a broken grandfather clock and hissed at the boys, “Halloween stew. Halloween stew.”
“Oh, don’t pay attention to Mortimer.” The woman walked around the room, lighting candles and incense. A gust of wind flapped through her black shawl. “We’ll eat after we’ve had a conversation. You boys know how to converse, don’t you?”
The boys nodded their heads in rapid succession.
“Good. Because the cat got Mr. Itor’s tongue long time ago.” She motioned to skeleton hunched over a typewriter. “Now, what was I saying about getting warm?”
The woman walked in circles, over heaps of papers and waste bins. “Oh, yes. The stew.”
“Halloween stew. Halloween stew.” The parrot looked from one boy to the other.
“We have to be going now,” one boy reached for the doorknob. “Our parents will be worried.”
Red fingernails sliced the air and caught the boy’s hand mid-turn. “That’s what Ed said, forty years ago. You don’t see his parents anywhere, do you?”
The boys gulped. One of them ventured a question, “He wouldn’t talk to you? Is that why you kept him here, waiting for him to talk?”
“Oh, he talked good enough,” the woman sneered. “Just couldn’t type a sentence to save his life.”
“Halloween stew. Halloween stew.” The parrot danced around his cage.
The boys ran screaming out of the house, leaving a trail of dust that could be seen for miles.
The old woman took off her witch’s costume. “Damn if being an English teacher isn’t the most fun job around.”