The grinning jack-o-lantern swung from the doorway. C.J squinted and rubbed his eyes,
these nights must be getting to him. No, the Jack-o-lantern was moving down the hallway
with out apparent assistance. He bolted out of the sound booth gesturing to Eugenia to
keep going, and slipped through the studio doors intent on finding out why the corridors
of WENN were being patrolled by gourds.
Personally, he preferred candy corn. Scott surveyed the counter in the green room, but
Penny's Treats had not sent any with the assortment for the spooky spectacular they were
sponsoring, he would have to make do with Mr. Foley's popcorn. He lifted the bowl
shaking it slightly listening to its satisfying rustle and turned to carry it into the studio,
nearly running into a searching C.J. in the hall.
"Did you see which way the pumpkin went?"
"Haven't seen Jeff today at all…isn't that usually Hilary's line?"
"Not Jeff, Jack." C.J. headed down the hall and turned left.
Hilary eyed the microphone as if it had sprouted tentacles instead of the ear splitting
squeal and tendril of smoke rising in studio A.
"Where is C.J.?" There was ice in her voice and something a bit sharper in her eye; she had
been spoiling for a fight since yesterday's contretemps with Jeffrey.
"Looking for a pumpkin." Scott offered sliding his bowl discreetly on to the sound effects
table. Scott wilted under the heat of Hilary's glare, what had he done... oh pumpkin, Jeff
they were off again... "Would you look at Eugenia keeping the time," he offered weakly,
backing out of the studio as Hilary advanced.
"I'll make him into pumpkin custard if he doesn't get back here and fix the sound."
Eugenia sighed and began Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, they had through this
and Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to figure out what if anything would end up on
the air. Returning with his glass of water, Mr. Foley sighed in exasperation as he saw the
state of his corner. Scott was never careful about putting any of the effects away, and this
was always an effect heavy time for programming, the specific creak of door, versus gate,
the various thuds of dismemberment, the boiling of a cauldron was different than a tea
kettle for goodness sake!
Meanwhile C.J. had found the jack-o-lantern sitting on a shelf in Mr. Eldrige's closet. It
had no wires and no apparent way to account for its flight down the hall, the logical
assumption was that Mr. Eldrige had put it there.
"That's a nice jack-o-lantern you have there C.J., but I don't think the closet is a good
place for it. Let's take it to the writers room it might help Betty with the spooky
spectacular script. When I was younger we made these out of turnips, much better than
eating them." Mr. Eldrige nodded his way down the hall, now firmly in possession of the
pumpkin. Walking behind him C.J. realized it couldn't have been Mr. Eldrige in the hall
with the pumpkin.
Hilary stalked into the hallway her quarry in sight. "C.J. there is an auditory emergency in
the studio. Find the sound and engineer a solution, I was practically electrocuted."
C.J. sighed and headed back to the studio. Duty was calling, in particularly strident tones!
Mackie was coming out of the green room as the pair entered the studio, rattling an empty
matchbox with a disappointed look, "Any one got some matches?"
Betty was stuck. She hadn't been able to get into the proper frame of mind for the last
week, spooky chills and thrills were hard to manufacture when the city of Pittsburgh was in
the grips of an unseasonable Indian summer. Dark and stormy nights were in short supply
—they couldn't even seem to rustle up a slight chill let alone Jack Frost's opening fanfare.
She stared at the typewriter with its neat carbons in front of her, a sinking feeling
occupied her stomach, and there was nothing spooky about the seaside!
It was at this moment that Mr. Eldrige wobbled through the doorway with the jack-o-
lantern. "I've found it Betty—the perfect inspiration!" with a grin he deposited the golden
globe with its garish grimace on the desk. Betty looked at the jack-o-lantern in befuddled
amazement unsure as to how a pumpkin was going to write a script in the next hour or so.
"Betty this is no time for mooning over a pumpkin!" Jeff stuck his head into the writer's
room. "Well at least not for you to be." Jeff trailed off uncertainly " Hilary on the other
hand." His second attempt at elucidating whatever the problem was this time was no
better than his first, he picked up the jack-o-lantern and studied its face.
"Great Sleeping Pumpkins! Sometimes I think your head must be hollow Jeff, Just apologize
to her, multiple times if necessary. I'm busy, working." She pounded the keys for
emphasis, and the slightly fuzzy look in Betty's eyes disappeared. Sleeping Pumpkins that
Jeff, looking like a beloved pet had bitten him, exited the writer's room as abruptly as he
had entered. There was no getting around it drastic measures were called for to settle the
holiday question, there was no way he was cooking the turkey! Hilary was going to have to
see reason they were not going to New York for the holidays, of course reason, prefaced
by a night on the town and some flowers would get a better reaction than just reason.
Hilary was rarely reasonable about Mamán.
Hilary glared at the turkey tacked to the wall of the green room. She had finished
introducing Eugenia's medley, dispatched CJ, had twenty minutes before the next
broadcast and no script. It was almost Thanksgiving and she was feeling less than thankful
this year. Invitations had come in the mail, both Madame Singer and Aunt Edwina. Jeff's
eyes had lit up over his mother's insistence that they visit for the holiday. It had shown up
just after Aunt Edwina's invitation, which was good—It was dinner with Madame Singer—
Which was something a bit less than good. In fact on Hilary's scale of torture it rated
somewhere around tooth extraction, or Henry V starring Popeye.
Jeff's loving reminisces about Mamán's goose had basted Hilary's temper bringing it to a
boiling point sometime mid-supper. The last holiday with Madame Singer had been more
like a command performance in Hilary's barely adequate French, which rapidly became
better in self-defense. There was also the children issue. At least her relatives didn't
expect the pitter-patter of little feet. Ever. This Thanksgiving looked more like the nastiest
Halloween trick, every time she thought about it, complete with multiple witches. Hilary
sighed, this was what touring was for, this is what theatre was for, why had they planned
an entirely musical program for Thanksgiving this year? Why did Madame Singer have to
be so good at cooking goose? Thank goodness the evening was almost over it had been a
long day of cold shouldering on and she was getting tired, Hillary began rummaging
around for some coffee before heading back into the studio.
Betty burst into the studio script and inspirational pumpkin in hand. "Here it is,." She
began handing round the script.
"I'll say," exclaimed Mackie, "what are you doing with my jack-o-lantern? I lost it
somewhere in between Studio B and my quest for a light."
"It was lighting my way to this." Betty handed him the script and set the pumpkin on the
organ—safely out of the way.
Jeff slunk in to the studio pre-occupied, the florist down the street was out of gardenias,
and Jeff was feeling out of sorts and out of apologies as he glanced at the script. Mackie
stepped up to the now calm microphone, "From among the papers of the late Diedrich
Knickerbocker Penny's Treats brings you this tale of long ago. Schoolmaster Crane is
attending the Van Tassel's party…" With those few lines wending their way over the
airwaves Betty could rest easy, another crisis averted, and another show on the air.
Snow, snow how to create... with inspiration Mr. Foley lit on Scott's popcorn, tiptoeing
behind Jeff and Hilary who were creating the only available ice in a sweltering Pittsburgh
the snowstorm struck. Popcorn bouncing off of clothing created just the right hush Mr.
Foley retreated victorious once more in his quest for the perfect sound. Hilary grimaced
under the sudden hail and struggled to contain her laughter at the sight of Jeffrey, hands
up raised sputtering on pieces of popcorn. He had hated the stuff for as long as she had
Mackie intoned "It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and
crest-fallen, pursued his travel homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise
above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was
dismal as himself. Far below him, the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of
waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the
land." His eyebrows playing a merry game as he continued with the story.
Hilary leaned into Jeff and brushed stray popcorn out of his hair, he slipped an arm around
her waist, the arctic front between the two thawed a little. They would have time to work it
out later, Now the upper Hudson river valley was as close to New York as they would get,
and as far from domestic squabbles.
Jeff cast around the studio his gaze landing on the pumpkin, it would be just the thing for
his final lines as the headless Hessian. He lifted it from the organ as a look of horror
crossed Mackie's face. Jeff raised the pumpkin as if to throw it at the hapless Ichabod/
Mackie who wildly waved and mouthed no, finally in an ungainly leap caught his jack-o-
lantern as it came flying through the air.
"And that brings us to a close we here at WENN hope you've been deliciously thrilled and
chilled by this spooky story brought to you by Penny's Treats." Betty wrapped the
broadcast up as Mackie inspected his jack-o-lantern. Mackie lifted the pumpkin and
settled it on his shoulder, "Have to get this home, it wouldn't be Halloween with out my
C.J. smiled. "Here," he offered, "Take my matches." He watched as Mackie walked out the
door and past the window. Only the pumpkin was visible as he headed for the door.