They met in the prime of their childhood, where the streets of Elm and Parklane collided in a sharp corner, on the evening of October 31st. The sun was orange; an enormous, blazing semi-circle on the horizon that sunk into the black and grey backdrop of jagged trees and crooked houses that compiled the streets of Turgid Meadows. Against the pumpkin-colored sky, black houses jutted out like rotting teeth, ready to gnaw at the atmosphere with their chipped and charcoaled faces. Finch was six then, his sister still gestating in the amniotic fluid of his mother's womb; he thought of her as a parasite, a maggot, a ringworm, that guzzled away at the nourishment that surrounded her. Finch was six- and only by a few months-, as was the boy who he would come to know as Devil Lad.

Devil Lad wore a grey sweatshirt and talked like Satan. Even in his young age he knew how to coat Finch's brain with half-of-a-quarter promises and semi-circle truths. Once a year he arrived at Turgid Meadows, never showing up back where he and Finch first met. He was always fashionably late in some abstract part of town; arriving on his own time like the celebrity he wasn't. Finch thought he smelled like sulfur and apples. Autumn and Hell.

Years later he was still coming back, swinging back around with Finch and his gang, pilfering the goods then heading back to wherever he came from. They called him a Halloween Poacher. He didn't disagree, but he didn't agree. He just said in an unreadable voice, What do you think?

On one rare occasion, he and Finch sat alone, their short legs swinging over the edge of a fence. Finch wondered what the other boy looked like under his mask, under his sweatshirt. What color was his hair, his eyes? So much time had passed that maybe it wasn't even the same person underneath those clothes. Devil Lad's arms looked thinner. Finch had grown taller. Angrier. His sister had long ago been forced from her place in her mother's body. She stuck nails in dolls and pulled the teeth out of animals and Finch blamed himself. He let her watch while he caught small birds and broke their necks.

Part of Finch wanted to take off his mask and show Devil Lad his face; part of him wanted to keep it on, to keep the novelty of their own hidden identities alive. He swung his legs.

"How come we don't see you at school-"

he doesn't live here, dumb ass.

"-or around-"

there's no reason to come back.

"-or anything?"

Devil Lad just cocked his head to the side and Finch supposed he was staring out into the orange and purple sky. He raised his arm and lifted his mask slightly, and Finch could see- in the most revealing move Devil Lad had ever made- the boy press his thumb against his lips, open his mouth and gently bit down on the digit.

"Maybe you're just not lookin' hard enough."

Behind his mask, Finch bit down on his tongue. Devil Lad removed his thumb and the sight of skin was gone.

"Let's go."

Time passed. Finch made his way out of elementary and junior high with misdemeanors of violence under his belt. His sister just stopped going. Halloweens came and went and eventually Devil Lad just stopped showing up. Finch didn't know if he moved too far away to come back to poach their goods or maybe he just got too old. Finch spent Halloweens at his friends' houses putting pins in candy bars and razorblades in the bottoms of apples. Two Halloweens in a row Devil Lad stayed away and Finch found himself longing for the boy's sense of mischief. He'd probably just become a memory in the back of his head. A pin in a block of chocolate.

But some days when Finch expected nothing and his mind was nothing but a sheet of old grey, he'd stand in the hallway of his high school, his forehead against a locker. And in the growling herd of students, he'd feel a hand run along his shoulder, fingers pulling gently along his shirt.

"Hey, Finch."

And in the crowd, almost separated, like the vision was parting the sea of peers, he'd see black hair. A grey sweatshirt. Thin arms. Then he'd see nothing.

"Maybe you're just not lookin' hard enough."