On Halloween night, in the dark and the macabre, Joe lay prone on the living room floor.
Actually he was lying on an Oriental carpet he had inherited from his parents. A shame how that carpet had been neglected. Never properly cleaned, it had been vacuumed with foaming, spray on shampoo. The kind of cleaner that attacked dirt superficially, allowing the real soil to be absorbed into the expensive fibers unto eternity.
The rug was practically threadbare, hard like concrete.
Joe knew he should send the thing out to be properly cleaned. To respect its beauty and the connection to his parents. To bring it back to life.
But he never had the spare $500 or whatever the hell it cost to care for a genuine Oriental rug.
Joe wasn't thinking about that now. He didn't give a damn. It was Halloween.
There was a bowl of candy next to his arm. Full size candy bars. None of this miniature sized crap.
If a kid made the effort to costume up and go out on such a sinister and cold night, he deserved a real candy bar. It was the least Joe could do.
Maybe twenty years down the road, when the kid was living an existence of shattered dreams, maybe he would reminisce in the dark over a tumbler of whiskey about the guy who gave him full sized candy bars. Maybe it would bring a smile to his face.
That's what Joe wanted to believe. He knew it was probably unrealistic but that's what Joe wanted to believe.
He also wanted to believe he wouldn't use the military stiletto dagger lying next to the bowl of candy.
Joe didn't really know why it was there. Why he had taken it out of the closet, removed it from the locked, metal box, unwrapped it from its protective cloth and placed it beside him on the floor.
Was it for a kid? Or was it for him?
It was dark in the house but not completely so. All the lights were off but candles burned in the windows.
That's the way Joe liked it. Darkness, alone in the house, candles burning. Sometimes he would pierce the darkness with the light of the TV. He liked the way the eerie glow was swallowed, overwhelmed by the surrounding black.
It felt right.
Something had been gnawing at Joe for quite some time now. He couldn't really put a finger on it but he knew it was leading him to a place he didn't want to be. A place he didn't think he could handle.
What was he supposed to do? What was going to happen? He really had no idea. But he knew that, whatever it was, it would meet with nobody's approval.
Joe's body jerked when the doorbell rang. It caught him off guard.
He waited silently. The second ring didn't bother him. He let it go. Waited for the trick or treaters to walk away disappointed.
Joe exhaled. He relaxed a little, realizing he wasn't going to do anything insane after all.
Or was he?