Nancy was pretty quiet during the drive. At first, I thought she was still mad at me, and giving me the silent treatment, but when I turned to her to ask whether she preferred taking the back road or the freeway, she seemed to be fast asleep, cuddled up in her seat with her head against her window, still sucking her thumb. I had to admit, it was pretty cute, plus it made my decision easier, since I didn’t have to worry about what scenery she’d prefer to look at. The freeway was a little quicker anyway.
I parked in the elementary school parking lot, which was probably frowned on, but hopefully nobody would care enough to try to get the car towed, since it wasn’t a school night or anything. And, really, it was in a nice spot, pretty much smack in the middle of the neighborhood. It looked like a fairly standard school, all brick and glass, though the windows were decorated with various Halloween-ish silhouttes, with paper jack-o-lanterns peeking out, and witches riding their broomsticks.
Nancy shifted a little in her seat, so I assumed she’d realized we were there, and just grabbed our bags from the back seat and got out of the car. She had changed positions, sure enough, but she was still sleeping. I tapped on the window, which startled her up, glancing over towardsme with a look of terror in her eyes.
“Bad dream?” I asked, opening the door. She nodded. She didn’t make any attempt to undo her seatbelt, so I just went ahead and did it for her, having decided to just go along with her.
She took her bag, though I had to practically shove it into her hands, then suddenly seemed to wake up, remember what we were doing there. She looked around at the houses lining both sides of the street around us, all decorated up, most with at least one group of little terrors standing on the porch, in various stages of getting their trick-or-treat on.
At first, I wondered if we’d fare any better here than at home, as it seemed all of those in costume were about 6, but after a few moments, I saw a group of teenagers, dressed up like characters from Sweeney Todd, making their way down the road. A quick, worried check showed me that they weren’t from our school, or at least anyone I knew from our school. Probably had all grown up around here, and long ago went to that school we were standing in front of.
“Well,” I said, smiling over towards Nancy, “let’s do this thing.”
Only, she wasn’t there. I looked around, strangely frantic, for someone well old enough to take care of herself. After a few moments, I caught a glimpse of her, staring in awe at the scarecrow guarding the nearest yard. I ran over to her, smiling at her and admiring the decoration myself. It wasn’t anything special, really, just some old, ratty clothes with a grinning jack-o-lantern perched on top, but it was oddly effective for its simplicity.
“Come on,” I told her, grabbing her hand. “There’s no candy in there!” I ran to the front door, though I had to slow a bit for Nancy, giggling, feeling like a kid again.
“Well, aren’t you a cutie?” the woman at the door cooed at Nancy. She smiled shyly, grabbing my cape and hiding behind it. The woman chuckled, then turned her attention to me. “Oh, that’s very nice,” she said, cocking her head to one side slightly.
“I’m Dracula,” I explained.
“Oh, of course you are!” she exclaimed, in a voice that told me her guess had been nowhere near that. I bared my fangs, figuring that would help, but she was back to admiring Nancy’s costume, having lured her out from behind me with her candy bowl. “That’s an adorable dress,” she observed. “Did you make it yourself?”
Nancy glanced from the woman, over to me, then nodded slowly, her thumb working its way back to her mouth. The woman smiled, dropping another piece of candy into Nancy’s bag. I started to hold out my bag, only to nearly bump into some little ghoul who had apparently sneaked up beside me. The woman turned to this new visitor, and I sighed softly and headed to the next house, not wanting to seem greedy, though I hadn’t actually gotten anything yet.
“My costume isn’t that hard to figure out, is it?” I asked the empty air beside me, before going back to grab Nancy. It was starting to feel a lot like babysitting, to be honest. If I’d wanted that, I would’ve just taken the neighbor’s twins out… And gotten paid for it.
It took a couple more houses before someone got my costume right on the first guess, an early twenties, scrawny guy who looked every bit like an average nerd, dressed as something I had too much of a life to understand. “Cool,” was his comment. He didn’t really have anything to say about Nancy’s costume, just kind of continued the nod he’d started with me.
Nancy kept getting distracted by some thing or another, usually forcing me to go back for her, at least until I got used to it. After a while, I decided to just let her catch up on her own - after all, I was going in a straight line, and even if she somehow got lost, she could always get directions back to the school. Of course, thinking that and doing it were two completely different things. But every time she’d bend over, staring with an open, and, after a few houses, chocolate smeared, mouth, looking at some decoration that was just the same as the million or so others we’d already passed, I got a little closer.
Even at the rather uncharacteristic rate she was eating her spoils at - though the clumsiness with which she opened each piece, and the fact that she felt the need to stop completely while doing so, slowed her a bit - Nancy’s bag got pretty well filled by the time we got about three-quarters of the way down the first side of the street. She started whining, dragging the bag beside her, until I relented and picked it up, along with my own half-empty bag, giving her one of the back-up bags from the hidden pocket on the inside of my cape.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling a little jealous. I’d known she’d be the center of attention - when wasn’t she? - but that would have happened anyway. Did she really need to show off and steal the spotlight completely?
“Could you maybe dial it down a bit?” I finally asked, as we were going back up the street, just on the other side. She didn’t seem to hear, but then, I hadn’t really had the guts to say it too loud.
“Oh, a father and daughter?”, guessed the old woman at the next house. I managed to stop myself from rolling my eyes, wondering what kind of dad she thought I was that I would be wearing a cape, and bared my teeth, deciding to take a page from Nancy’s book, hissed and reared back, as if about to bite Nancy. But she couldn’t let me have my moment. She gave a shriek, dropping her bag and running a few awkward steps before falling down, which elicited a sniffle and then a wail.
“She makes a very good baby, doesn’t she?” the old woman asked, bending over slowly to get Nancy’s bag, and add a little something to it, then handed to her, patting the top of her head. Nancy was still staring up at me, though she had twisted around, sitting on her padded bottom, legs splayed in front of her. “And you’re a fine monster. You two are just adorable together.”
“Come on,” I told Nancy, after the old woman had gotten back inside. I held out my hand, but she tried to scoot away, still sniffling and acting scared. “Look, she’s not gonna give you anymore,” I rolled my eyes. “There’s still plenty more houses.”
She didn’t make any move to stop playing around, so I retracted my hand, gritting my teeth. “Fine, I’ll meet you back at the car.” I walked on to the next house, shaking my head, whispering under my breath, “Greedy bitch.”