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It's All In The Preparation 

 

“Hi Mr. Gigston! Drove my kids past your house last night so they could see your decorations.”

Gil smiled as he ran a bag of mini Baby Ruth bars over the scanner.

“You really go all out Halloween, don’t you?”

Bob Gigston smiled back as he opened his wallet, consciously avoiding the debit card and reaching instead for the cash he’d put in there just for this purpose.

“You have to do it for the kids, right?”

“But, you don’t have kids,” said the cashier, brow wrinkling. “Do you sir? I never knew…”

“No, no, Gil, I meant ‘the kids’ in general. You know, all the kids.”

Bob read the total and handed over the money, then moved to bag his purchases. Gil punched the buttons, the register drawer opened and closed. He handed over the change, gesturing at the two shopping bags Bob now held.

“Well, you do have plenty of candy.”

Bob smiled again.

“It’s all in the preparation, Gil.”

“Well,” Gil nodded, “I guess you would know. Thank you for shopping at Safeway!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Where did you get that mechanical Frankenstein that waves hello and goodbye? I remember that from last year.”

Her name-tag said “Hi, I’m Sherry”, but Bob had no recollection of her. Maybe she was someone’s parent that he just couldn’t remember.

“I’ve looked all around here,” she went on, thrusting his bags of fun-sized Three Musketeer bars into the pair of plastic bags hanging from the bagging rack at the end of her counter, “even drove out to the mall in Hainsborough last week, and I’ve never found one anywhere. What’s your secret?”

“Oh, that thing? I got that from Halloween mail-order catalog a last year.” Bob looked her in the eye with what he hoped was a nonchalant smile as he took his bags from her. “There was some assembly required, but I think it was worth it.”

She chewed her gum reflectively.

“A catalog, huh? That’s your secret?”

“No secret, Sherry. It’s all in the preparation.”

“If you say so. Thanks for shopping at WalMart!”

He gave her a little wave as he headed for the door.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“You sure do have a lot of candy here, Mr. Gigston!”

Bob froze, trying hard not to stare at the teen-ager who was swinging his fifth bag of Milky Ways over the price scanner.

“What do you mean?”

The teen, a boy named Franklin whom Bob had for Homeroom last year, began to blush.

“Well, it’s five bags of stuff, and you’re just one guy, you know? It’s a lot.” He pushed his glasses up his nose, a nervous gesture. “I didn’t mean anything by it, or anything…”

Bob relaxed.

“It’s for Halloween, Franklin. It’s just two weeks away, you know.”

“Oh, I know,” said the boy, anxious to cover his social gaffe. “But if you’re gonna get this much stuff you’re better off waiting until like the twenty ninth, or thirtieth. Everything goes on sale at like half-price then.”

Bob’s shoulders relaxed, but tried not to let any relief show on his face.

“But Franklin, this is Halloween! I have to get ready.”

Franklin offered the ghost of a smile.

“Wow Mr. Gigston. Some teachers get tired of dealing with kids all day, and don’t want them knock on the door and stuff.”

Bob shook his head as he collected his bags.

“No, Franklin, I love Halloween, and it’s far too important to leave off ‘til the last minute. I have plenty to do before the big day, and it’s all in the preparation.”

“Wow, I guess so. In case I don’t see you, you have a happy Halloween, okay? And thank you for shopping at Giant Value!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bob Gigston sat at the table in his tiny kitchen. The kitchen had to be tiny, as the house was so small.

It was all he could afford.

It had already been dark for quite a while, though he had just gotten home. School had gotten out hours ago, but he’d had to spend some time talking to parents about their kids. Hearing about how when the little darlings acted up in class they were just ‘expressing their creative side’. How refusing to listen or talking back in class was ‘just learning to assert their own authority’. No matter what he said they had an excuse he simply could not shake, and it was somehow his fault.

The meeting with one father, who’s kid had been caught red-handed taking a shit in the top drawer of Bob Gigston’s desk, ran quite long. There was lots of finger pointing, all of it into Bob’s chest, as the large angry father of the beefy emotionally retarded son told Bob in no uncertain terms that it was all a harmless prank, and if any action were taken other than some detention there would be ‘serious repercussions’.

The thick finger made hard contact at those words, driving the point home quite physically.

Serious repercussions.

Through it all Bob smiled and remained calm, no matter what was said, no matter what he was called. His behavior stayed well within the limits set out by the local School Board. If he strayed outside those closely defined limits, then his job was in jeopardy. His shitty, low-paying job.

He looked at the candy spread out before him. Five bags each of the most popular Halloween treats, bought from three different stores, all with cash. He picked up a Fun-Size Milky Way bar with latex-gloved fingers.

Just the right size for a piggish jock to eat in one bite.

He slid the sewing needle through the wrapper, right up the center of the candy bar, tamping it in tight. The hole from the needle was barely visible in the wrapper, even when he looked for it. He put the bar aside and looked at the remaining candy, then at the packets of needles lying by his elbow.

Yup. It’s all in the preparation.

He smiled.

 

 

 

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