The kid from Tokyo, in Texas on a home stay, knew enough about Halloween to don a rubber monster mask before he left for the party that the girl with the frosted hair and re-worked teeth from his math class had invited him to.
The card had the address printed in raised letters, but the eye holes in the mask were small and the light in late October is long done by nine pm.
How was he to know that he was standing at house number 57, not number 51? How was he to know of his host nation’s blood-drenched history? The houses alarmed and bullet-proofed. The stockpiles of pistols and ammunition in each basement. The images of grim-faced, gnashing-toothed intruders stuffed drug-crazed and screaming into the back seats of police cars that haunt the living rooms of America.
The old man who opened the front door had already fetched the pistol from the hall table drawer. Did not ask or answer questions as he raised the barrel to chest height and emptied the seven bullet clip into the masked figure on the front step.
And in the failing light from the front hall, the feeble lamp above the door, a final image reddens in the kid’s mind. Reddens, fragments, pixelates into a million, then a hundred, then a dozen points of white and red and grey. And then the body hits the birch wood planks. And screams from several sources anticipate the coming shrillness of sirens.