When I got home that night, I noticed the smiling Jack-o-Lantern in my front yard was crushed. I ignored it and stepped inside my house — it had been a long day. My first stop was the kitchen to find my favorite bottle, but I didn’t find it on the shelf where it usually sits. I went out looking through the dining area to find a silent man with his back to me, sitting on a stool, his round head slightly bowed. I hadn’t switched on the lights of the house yet, and he seemed to have an orange flashlight before him.
“What are you doing in my house?”
He turned around. He wore a carved pumpkin on his head and the orange glow came from within. I couldn’t see his face at all.
He said his name was Jack. He was mourning the death of his brother.
He held the bottle I was looking for.
“You mean the crushed Jack-o-Lantern outside?”
Jack nodded, and for a moment I feared his head would fall off. But it didn’t. Although his face held the same grin of every Jack-o-Lantern, the drooping shoulders told a different story.
“Do you know who did it?”
He said he didn’t know. He wanted to find out, but first he wanted to give his brother a proper burial.
“Of course, that’s understandable. Why don’t I pour you a drink? You shouldn’t drink alone in such troubled times.”
I brought out a couple of glasses and sat with him at the table. I poured drink after drink and all I remember of the night are the clinks we made as we toasted everything: his brother, October, all pumpkins, mankind, lantern-heads, Halloween, the New Years to come…
When I came to the next morning, I noted the single glass on the table and the empty bottle. All was quiet as I got myself a jug full of water and poured it down my throat, most of it splashing on my face. More than half awake, I made my way to the front porch to pick up the day’s newspaper when I casually glanced around for the crushed Jack-o-Lantern. It was nowhere to be seen. As I turned to go back in, a small mound of earth caught my eye. The centre of the yard looked like it had been dug up and filled in. Something had been buried there. Very recently.
I knew what I’d find if I dug it up. But I was still unsure about the who.