All Tricks, No Treats
In the locker room, the guys were moving around, half-asleep. They had a busy night, but as Marco mentioned, at least they didn't have to deal with the spate of Devil's Night arsonists that plagued their fellow firefighters in Detroit.
Even better, their shift had Halloween off this year. Johnny was going to be going with Roy and Joanne to help 'herd' Chris and Kimmy at a Halloween carnival that one of the local stores was sponsoring. Marco was going to be doing the same duty for some of his nieces and nephews. Mike was helping out at his neighborhood community center's event for the kids. Even Chet was going to be doing trick or treat duty. His next door neighbor, Beverly, had injured her foot and he had volunteered to take her four year old daughter, Tina, out on the door to door circuit.
Chet hurried home to grab some sleep because he knew how excited Tina was about trick or treating and figured he needed to be well rested to keep up with the bubbly girl. It was a good thing that he did because she was already bouncing impatiently when he arrived at their door. Tina was dressed as a miniature Halloween witch, complete with a child-sized broom.
"Very nice, Short Stuff, but what's with all the bouncing? You got ants in your pants?"
Turning around, Tina tried to see if she had actual ants on her and Chet chuckled.
"Not real ants, kiddo. That just means you're being squirmy. Hello, Bev. How's the foot today?"
"Sore and swollen. You don't know how much Tina and I appreciate you taking her out, Chet."
"Hey, you two have helped me plenty in the past. Besides, anything for my favorite munchkin."
Tina gave an indignant stomp with her foot.
"I am not a munchkin. I'm the witch."
"Silly me, I should have spotted that right away. Wicked Witch of the West?"
"Uh-huh. Got a broom and everything."
"Impressive. Hey, no turning me into a winged monkey, got it?"
As Tina giggled, Bev handed Chet his own treat bag, which earned her a raised eyebrow until she explained.
"Your bag is for Tina to dump her candy into. She has a bad habit of swinging her bag and dumping everything out of it onto the ground."
"Got it. Sounds practical. So, we're going to be covering seven blocks?"
"If that's too far, just say so, Chet."
"Naw. I can give our little witch a lift if her legs give out. I don't want her grandmother to miss seeing her in her costume."
"My mom is going to give me a call when you guys leave her house so I'll know about when you'll be getting back here. I'll have food on the table, ready and waiting."
"Bev, that's sweet, but you don't have to do that."
"And you don't have to do this."
Holding up his hands in surrender, Chet grinned again.
"My mother taught me the futility of arguing with a woman. Besides, you cook better than I do."
Laughing, Bev pulled her green-tinged daughter into a hug.
"Now, you be good for Mister Chet and do what he tells you to do. Love you."
"I'll be good. Love you, Mama."
Chet carried both bags as Tina took hold of his hand, holding her broom in her other hand as they set off for trick or treating.
Older children were flying from door to door in colorful bunches, so Chet steered clear of them to keep Tina from getting trampled by the mobs. When they reached a house, he would stay back a few paces and hand Tina her small treat bag, watching as she darted to the door, bag and broom in hand.
Tina obediently stayed right with Chet as they moved from house to house. After two blocks, it wasn't an issue because Chet started carrying her piggyback between houses.
"Just watch it with the broom there. No clonking me in the head with it."
The fourth block in their route heading toward Beverly's mother's home was not a nice looking area. There were several houses that were no longer occupied and whose yards were overgrown. The area gave Chet a creepy feeling, but he just blamed that on the shadows and the general Halloween mood. He wouldn't have written it off so quickly if he'd known that they were under observation.
The two men stayed in the shadows, studying the pair.
"Well, what do you think? It's just the two of them. The others have been traveling in groups."
"She's small enough that she won't be any trouble. And take a look at her father. He's not exactly a basketball player, is he? We should be able to take him down without drawing attention."
"Not a lot of other folks around right now. Should we –"
"Don't be so impatient. I don't see any cars following after them, do you?"
"Because they'll come back this way to go home, right? And that will be that much longer that he'll be carrying her around and that much more tired he'll be, right?"
"Right. I see what you're saying, Ralph. So, we get ready and 'greet' them when they come back?"
"Exactly. Come on. No telling how long it will be before they finish for the night. At her age, I bet her dad won't keep her up a lot longer."
*Short note on the non-canon folks : Chet's neighbors, Beverly and Tina, are from my stories 'O is for Outdoors' and 'R is for Retribution'.