She was little and blonde
And amusing
In her little red hood
Walking alone through
Suburbia with a
Basket on one arm
Full of goodies.

So you, the Big Bad,
Shortened your stride
To match her four steps
To your one.
"I'm not s'posed
To talk to strangers."
She lisped,
While giving you the
Evil Eye without
Stopping.

"All right luv," you said,
"Name's William.
Now I'm not a stranger."

"William.
That's a dumb name."
She replied,
"Boys should be called
Brandon or Ford.
What kind of a name's
William?"

Good question.
But it's yours,
Like it or not.
Anyway why should
The Big Bad care
What an ambulatory
Happy Meal thinks?

Still, you play the game:
"Where you goin', pet?"

"To Grammy Summers' house."
The wee one replies,
Primly adjusting
Her red hood, revealing
Blonde piggy-tails, "She lives
Two doors from my house,
William
."

She looks up
At you again,
Her little feet in
Their lace ankle socks and
Mary Janes pattering in
Counterpoint to your
Larger Doc Martins.
"And like wow,
What big teefs you have!"

Gleefully you bare your fangs at her
And snarl, "The better to bite you with!"

Little miss in her red hood
Merely giggles.
"My daddy does it better."

"Is that so, pet?"

"Uncle Ralph's a dentist.
He made daddy fake
Halloween toofs."

Intrigued by
This child's lack of fear,
You escort her unasked
Through the jack-o-lantern
Darkness of a warm L.A. night
As the soccer moms and their
Rubber-masked ankle biters
Swarm about you.

"That's Grammy Summer's House."

You crouch beside her
In the lonesome shadows,
Hands on knees, long black
Coat puddling around
Your feet as she
Points at a large
Ranch style house
With fake cobwebs
On the bushes and
A bedsheet ghost hanging
From the palm tree out front.

Her eyes are huge in the
Streetlamp as she wrinkles
Her nose, "Ewww, William,
You smell all nasty,
Like an ashtray!"

Well, it's true
You like a carton
Or six during the
Day when you
And your lover
Quarrel- and
Lately you and your
Lover have been
Quarreling a lot.

You smirk
"Don't worry, pet,
My smell won't bother you-
For long." and give her
A tittering laugh
As you light up
Yet another.

She rolls her eyes-
Your stomach gurgles-
You'd best do it now
To avoid causing
A meal-disturbing ruckus.

However, this tiny moppet
Is still amusing
So you let this bon-bon in her
Red hood live
Just a fraction longer.

Unsnatched,
Little miss marches
Up the sidewalk
To Grammy's house,
Past the palm tree ghost
And a Lopsided jack-o-lantern
To the front door
On the study legs
Of a five-year old
While you lurk nearby.

She reaches up but can't
Quite make the doorbell.

Little Red turns, and calls,
"William, ring it for me?
I'm too little!"
She then adds,
"Please?"

You oblige and she says,
"Ewwwwww, what icky nails
You have. Your mommy
Needs to trim them!"

"All the better to
Grab you with, luv."
You say with a slow grin.
Around your cigarette.

She rolls her eyes.

Your stomach growls louder;
She's a sweet little morsel,
That comes with her
Own desert, a big plastic
Basket decorated
Like a jack-o-lantern,
Stuffed full of sticky treats.

You lunge at her
Only to slam
Into the invisible
Wall of her grandmother's
Threshold because
Grammy's opened the door,
"Oh, look it's Little Red Riding Hood,"
And pulled your easy
Meal into the safety
Of the cookie-perfumed house
For a hug and a treat.

Puzzled, Grammy Summers adds,
"Is that you Hank
Under that disgusting mask?"

But Grammy's question
Hangs unanswered
In the jack-o-lantern air.
Because you've decided
To hunt elsewhere
For tonight's meal-
Saving Little Red Riding Hood
For later.