A Halloween Adventure
Original story by Gioacchino Inzirillo (Father)
Original Cover Design by Virginia Inzirillo (Daughter)
Special thanks to Barbara La Mantia for the cover layout
The Fable Garden
Growing Children’s Stories with Care.
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Dedication: To my wife and daughter who inspire me daily.
Table of Contents
In the upstate New York town of Autumn Dale, in King George County, each October was a multicultural celebration of autumn and the upcoming winter. The town’s people relied on a real sense of community to get though the usually harsh winter. The autumn fest was a huge party with a corn stalk maze, bobbing for apples, best pie baking contest, you name it, and a Halloween Ball at the end. Lastly, the ball ended with a best costume contest. Each October just about the whole county visited the Autumn Festival, of which the Best Pumpkin was a coveted prize. Interestingly however, one of the entries of the pumpkin growing contest was making news.
Reporter Gary Fields: “Farmer Stein, do you think you will win the pumpkin growing contest this year? Farmer French stands to win the contest for the third year in a row.” “Yes, Gary, I think we can win this year.” “Farmer Stein, We hear you have developed a secret and experimental growing technique. What can you tell us about it?” “Well Gary, we have developed a growing technique that maintains optimum growing conditions with a constantly measured and dosed fertilization. We use a homeostasis container to keep out foreign substances, and the whole thing is environmentally friendly. It is non-polluting in every way.” “Farmer Stein, all of the farmers have a secret formula. What makes yours different?” “Well Gary, we have added to the fertilizer special enzymes and probiotic soil organisms that behave in an intelligent fashion. In particular by examining their properties like density and moisture level they give us feedback, and we have learned to understand them and precisely adjust the right growing conditions. Especially interesting is the high density area that we have nicknamed “the brain”. Everything is electronically controlled, even the soil acidity level.” “Wow, sounds like you have created a new form of life. Almost like Baron Von Frankenstein’s famous experiment. Any relation?” “Uh no. No relation.”
“Who has helped you with this experiment? You mentioned “we” before.” “My son Franklin, and my father Walter and I.” “Well farmer Stein, I am sure our viewing audience is dying to get a look at your experiment. May we have a look?” “Sorry Gary, but the answer is no. We are waiting for our patent to get approved and we need the utmost secrecy right now. You all will have to wait for the day of the contest to get a look. We should have our patent by then.” “Well, O.K. then. We will wait with great curiosity until the day of the Autumn Fest to see exactly how farmer Stein has revolutionized pumpkin growing. Good luck from all of us for your experiment and in the pumpkin competition.” “Thanks Gary. See you again on competition day.” “You can bet on it Farmer Stein, can’t wait to see your creation. From the Stein farm, this is Gary Fields for WAWH news. Back to you studio.”
The Stein family sat around the TV set watching the six o’clock news cast as dinner time came around. David Stein, his wife Suzy, Franklin, Grandpa Walter and Grandma Katherine, sat around until the very end in silence and then “WOW!” said Franklin. “We’re famous now. All the kids at school must have seen me on TV with you Dad. Wait until we win the contest. How famous will we be then?” “Pretty famous, I’ll say.” said Grandpa. “Yeah. It’s about time we win again!” said Grandma. David was thoroughly enjoying the moment. Three generations of Stein farmers were working together, focused on one goal, the pumpkin growing contest.
It had been long ago, twenty years, since Walter had won the prize with a four hundred pound pumpkin. Now it seemed that is would be David’s year to win, and he wanted to share the experience with Franklin now, and not let him have to wait. Franklin was surprisingly good at growing pumpkins for a nine year old. He was very careful and kept a notebook about what was happening to the experimental pumpkin. Franklin and his grandmother were both proponents of talking to plants to get them to grow. So every evening Franklin talked to the pumpkin and read it a story. Franklin swore the pumpkin loved the stories about doing good deeds and helping others, and Grandma always made sure the pumpkin was taught good manners. She thought it was funny to tell the pumpkin to sit up straight while Franklin was reading to it. The other members of the family joked but the pumpkin was growing so well that it stood to break the all-time county record of six hundred and fifty pounds, and there was still the last phase of the experiment.
The final part of the experiment was to let it finish maturing out in the open, where it would certainly gain weight. The important part was to not let the rain ruin the experiment. Since it was still experimental there was no way of knowing if rain would ruin things. They had already made an enclosure to hide the pumpkin from prying eyes, and were almost ready for the final phase. “Dad do we start the final phase tonight now that all the reporters are gone?” asked Franklin when his father had finished checking the pumpkin. “No son. Just a few more days and it will all be ready. Let’s go inside the house now and get things in order for tomorrow, o.k.?” “You go ahead Dad. I still haven’t read to the pumpkin yet.” “It’s o.k. David. I’ll stay with Franklin here until he is done.” said grandma putting her hand on Franklin’s shoulder and winking at David. “O.k., but don’t be long.” “We won’t Dad.”
Franklin kept books by the pumpkin. He chose one at random, and then stopped. Looking quite serious he asked, “Grandma, what is Baron Von Frankenstein’s famous experiment?” “Oh, ha ha.” she began replying “Just like the old scary movie about the monster brought to life with electricity. You know the one they show each year at this time.” “Does this mean we could possibly create a monster too?” asked Franklin with obvious enthusiasm in his expression. “That would be so cool!” Franklin hesitated and spoke seriously now, “Even if it does come to life, Grandma, there is no way it could be a monster. We are educating him too well to be bad.” Katherine laughed out loud and pointed her finger at the huge pumpkin. “That’s right you be good and always be nice to people!” she said. “Yeah, and then we can play together!” added Franklin.
After about a week everything was ready. The Stein’s set up a radio controlled weather station as a precaution, and a large tarp to cover everything as well. Early in the morning, at first light, they moved the pumpkin and applauded when it was all done. The air was crisp and clean and most importantly the sky was clear. “Not a cloud in the sky. Kind of strange for this time of the year.” said Walter. “Yeah. But let’s not be lulled in. It could change in a minute.” added Suzy Stein. Franklin beamed a huge smile and patted the pumpkin with affection as if it were a good dog. “You did a good job.” he told it. The pumpkin moved slightly. “You see. He does understand me.” said Franklin. “What do you mean dear?” asked his mom. “When he shakes his head it means he understands me.” “Dear, pumpkins don’t really understand human speech.” “This one does. Even the reporter said our experiment was special.” “It is special Franklin, but pumpkins just don’t understand our words. That’s all.” “Well, how come he can move then, if that’s all?” he said challengingly, chest puffed up. Suzy decided to close the argument. Franklin was a little child and was just using his imagination, she thought. “Well o.k. Why don’t you try to make a video after school? We can show it afterwards at the contest. How do you like that idea?” “That would be great!” “What an imagination.”, said Grandpa chuckling “What an imagination!”
Two days later the weather was changing, slowly at first. The morning saw wispy clouds, like cotton candy strings. Then the wind started to blow, getting stronger by the hour. By the evening the Steins had rechecked the tarp and the weather station. The weather station called for a chance of rain and lightning activity. It was now just two days to Halloween and the storm threatened to ruin everything. The Steins were risking a lot, but they had a lot to gain. So far the experiment had worked to perfection and they were determined to see it all the way to the end. So they did the only thing possible at that moment. They waited.
“I can’t stand waiting Grandpa!” cried Franklin. Grandpa just chuckled as Franklin made the declaration for the umpteenth time. “Relax Franklin, even if it rains everything will be alright!” That night Franklin had the company of his best friends Claire and Joey and their families. They went to school together and shared just about everything, even the pumpkin experiment.
Grandpa got up and headed towards the kitchen where the rest of the Steins were serving up apple pie with fresh whipped cream with milk for the kids and coffee for the adults. “Where’s that apple pie?” he said. “We have some hungry kids here.” Almost immediately Grandma arrived with a tray with big servings of pie and tall glasses of milk. “I don’t want to see a crumb left when you are done. Not one. And finish all your milk.”, said Grandma. Joey smiled from ear to ear. He loved apple pie. Franklin didn’t even notice. Claire punched Franklin on the arm. “Hey are you going to stare at that weather station all night?” “Yeah. You aren’t even touching your pie.”, said Joey happily chewing a big fork full. “Hu? I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening.” said Franklin. “Don’t be a party pooper! This is a great pre-Halloween party.” said Joey. “All we did was eat dinner at my house.” “Yeah, but it was a great dinner and Halloween is in two days! I have my costume ready and will definitely win the best costume contest this year.” “Yeah right.”, joined Claire. “Like the corn stalk mummy last year?” “How did I know the crows would attack. Besides, this year is completely different.” “How is this year different?” “Because Franklin helped me this year!”, said Joey defiantly, “And he is even smarter than me.” “That’s not saying very much.” said Claire.
“Will you two quit it.”, said Franklin finally taking his eyes off of the computer screen. The Weathergate was a new system where hardware and software combined to help farmers. Local radio controlled weather stations gathered information about local weather conditions and uploaded them to the internet via a satellite uplink or via your PC and a modem. All the local farmers now had it and it was considered indispensable. “If you quit it with the weather station, then we’ll stop quarrelling.” said Claire. “Deal.” All three moved to the kitchen with their plates and glasses, where they joined their parents and Franklin’s grandparents. Joey was named after his father, Giuseppe Pinolli aka Peppe, the fourth. Joey received his share of teasing at school. Bill, a classmate of theirs, chanted his name like was an insult, just to make Joey up set. Almost every day it was “JOEY PINOLLI, JOEY PINOLLI, JOEY PINOLLI, …” It wasn’t so bad, after all, it was just his name, and he was Giuseppe Pinolli the fifth, all farmers. “Everything o.k. kids?” Giuseppe called out. “Yeah dad.” The conversation continued as they settled at the table. “Do all of you have your costumes ready?”, asked Claire’s mother Bernadette. “Yes.” “Yes.” “No.” It was Franklin. “I didn’t have the time to get it ready.” “Neither did you ask for help or accept help.”, added Katherine Stein. “What are you going to do now? You have to have a costume for Halloween.”, punctuated Maria, Joey’s mother. “We have that taken care of already.”, said Franklin’s mother winking at her mother in law Katherine.
The two of them got up from the table together as Franklin looked on, mouth full of apple pie. “What are the two of you up to now?” he asked already guessing the answer. “You’ll see.”, said Grandma. The two returned in a minute from the garage with a box. They brought it into the living room and called to Franklin. “Come and look.”, called Suzy Stein. The three kids rushed over and opened the box, quickly pulling out the costume. It was an old green suite fixed up to look older. It had old shoes and a red bow tie. “It’s just and old suite and a mask.”, said Franklin. “No, it’s a costume of a scare crow.”, said Grandma Katherine. “Great, now we can enter the best costume contest together!”, said Joey. “Yeah, why not. The pumpkin, the scarecrow and the farmer’s wife as well.” added Claire rolling her eyes. There was a sudden “beep beep beep” from the PC. Weathergate was broadcasting a warning.
Franklin ran to the PC and read out loud from the screen. “Weather update for King George County, 8:00 PM EST. Electrical clouds rolling in, threatening the area with thunder storms all through the night. Light winds prevailing with wind gusts reaching a maximum of, but not expecting to exceed, 30 MPH. Temperatures expecting to drop during the night to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. No chance for frosting pumpkin farmers, so you can sleep tight tonight.” At the same time a short video was transmitted showing the electrical clouds. Outside the wind could be heard, and then a flash could be seen out the window. Franklin quickly checked the data from the weather station, everything seemed to be ok. Joey was already at the window calling everyone over, “Hey, check out the clouds!”, he said. They all rushed over to one window or another and watched for a couple of minutes as the clouds lit up and glowed eerily. Grandpa saw his chance for a story, and called the kids over to the fire place.
“This reminds me of a story.”, he began, “Anyone interested in hearing a story follow me.” He placed one more piece of firewood on the fire before settling into his arm chair. “David, turn down the lights.”, said Grandpa. The children and adults gathered around the living room, settling into chairs the sofa and on the floor, warmly awaiting another story from Walter. He had a million of them, and Franklin loved each and every one. “Do you kids know the story of Baron Von Frankenstein and his monster?”, asked Grandpa. They all nodded their heads in affirmative. “Why?” asked Claire. “Well, it was on a night like this, in a castle in Europe, that Frankenstein gave life to his monster.”, said Grandpa adding a serious tone to his voice and a stern face. “It is a true story!”, he said with raised voice just as the lightning lit up the windows. The children recoiled back in surprise with wide eyes, in silence. Grandpa continued, pleased that he had their attention.
“Well, that reporter got me thinking the other day. He reminded me of the true story. Baron Von Frankenstein was not just a scientist, he was a doctor, world renown, a genius. He helped a lot of people. His name was not Von Frankenstein, but just Stein, just like us. In the book his name was changed to protect his identity. His name was Frank Stein, and he was a relative of ours, a distant cousin of ours.” Franklin interrupted, “Grandpa, stop fibbing. The story is not true. You’ll Scare Joey.” “I’m no ascared, uh afraid, you are. Go ahead Grandpa.”, was the answer from Joey sticking out his tongue at Franklin. Grandpa winked at Claire who was secretly enjoying the scene as much as him. “Anyway, The Baron Stein gathered parts from deceased patients…” “What does de-seeded mean?” asked Joey. “Deceased.”, groaned Franklin slapping his forehead for emphasis “It means, you know, passed on.” “I knew that. I just wanted to see if you knew that.” said Joey snottily. Claire rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe the two of you are so immature. Now shut up. You’re ruining the story.”, she reprimanded. “Please, Grandpa, continue.”, said Claire.
“As I was saying, the story is true. The Baron gathered parts and organs in an early attempts to make organ transplants, the same way they do today. He did not steal parts from the cemetery. That would be too gross, blah. However, the early experiments did not work.” “Why didn’t they work?”, asked Joey. “Well, lots of reasons. Like the lack of medicines, of a blood transfusion system, sterilization was a problem and so on. If he had had a modern hospital at that time he sure would have had great success. Anyway, as my grandfather relates the story it went this way, that there was a terrible accident. The Baron’s best friend Hans, who was quite the large and athletic fellow, had an accident hiking in the mountains. Hans procured a serious head injury in a rock slide. Luckily the Baron, who was the world’s leading expert on the human brain, was there. They were out in the mountains, and the Baron, performed first aid and helped him back to the castle home of the Baron. Hans passed on at castle, where the Baron had already begun to operate on the head trauma of Hans. The combination of events was serendipitous! The Baron then hurriedly closed Hans head after carefully cleaning him up, and placed him in a tank filled with a special solution. “What was in the solution grandpa?”, asked Joey who was more interested and more scared than anyone. “No one knows. It was secret and experimental, just like the pumpkin formula we have outside.”, he answered winking at Franklin who rolled his head and eyes at the same time, but did not say anything. “The Baron thought the solution was ready, but he also knew that there was an element missing. Something special that would kick-start Hans’s brain. And then there it was, BOOOM!” shouted grandpa as the lightning flashed and thunder clapped simultaneously, making everyone jumped out of their seats! “There was a thunderstorm, and The Baron had a revelation. A greater amount of electrical power was needed to jump start the brain, and the heart, of Hans. Effectively, the Baron created the defibrillator, and that is science my dears, science.” David looked around the room, “Hey do any of you smell smoke?” Suzy was at the window, “Look. It looks like the pumpkin experiment has been hit!” Franklin got up and ran to the window. Wisps of white smoke rose up from the enclosure. David was leading the charge out the door, followed close behind by Franklin and everyone else. Franklin ran, his heart beating hard. It seemed like he was running a long time, but they were there in just a few moments.
“Don’t touch it!”, said Walter, bringing up the rear. “It was struck by lightning. It could still be charged.” They waited for Walter to get there, and looked on as the smoke slowed down. “What do we do dad?”, asked Franklin. “We hurry. We can’t stay here and wait for another lightning strike.” David took the keys out of his pocket, and looked at his father who nodded his head. David tossed his keys against the enclosure. There were no sparks. “It should be ok.”, said Walter. David picked them up and inserted the key without incident and opened the gate. Amazingly everything inside looked alright. The Weathergate sensor system was still smoking a little, but the indicator lights were still on. “Well, I’ll be pickled. It still works!” said David. They moved inside and looked closer. The pumpkin was still intact! “The antenna must have acted like a lightning rod and was able to ground the charge. Incredible!”, said Walter. “Yeah, it actually worked the way the manual said it would. Money well spent.”, said David. Franklin was smiling, greatly relieved. He leaned close and whispered, “Everything alright?” There was a slight movement, in the shadows it was hard to see, but it was there. “C’mon, let’s get inside in case there is more lightning.”, said Katherine. “If you are done scaring the children, Walter, I think we will go. It’s getting late.”, said Maria. They all agreed and started back towards the house. They said goodnight on the front porch and then left, leaving the Steins to quickly clean up and go to bed. Then next day was Friday, the day of this year’s Autumn Festival, so they wanted to get a good night’s sleep. While the Steins settled down to sleep, outside in the enclosure things where stirring.
The next morning, when Franklin got out of bed the clouds were slowly clearing and the sun began to take dominance in the sky. There was chill in the air but not much wind at all. He could hear the noise of his mother and grandmother preparing breakfast downstairs as well as everyone talking. The first odors of cooking were silently calling him. They were making his favorites.
Franklin hopped out of bed and went to the window. From his second floor bedroom he looked down on the pumpkin enclosure. “Hmm. I’d better take a look.”, he said to himself. “Frankie!” called his grandmother. “Breakfast!” “Coming!”, he called back as he slipped on his bedroom slippers and headed down the stairs.
When Franklin got to the kitchen his family was already sitting around the round table in their usual places. “I’ll be right back.”, he said. “Where are you going?”, asked Suzy Stein. “I want to go and check the pumpkin.”, he responded. “No, eat and then get dressed. Today is the day of the Autumn Fest and we have to go check in for the pie contest.”, she reminded. “But Mom…” “No ‘But Mom’ Franklin. We’re running late. And besides your father already checked the pumpkin. Isn’t that right dear?”, she added winking at David Stein. “Actually, I didn’t get a chance.”, said David not seeing the wink. “Eat while your breakfast is nice and hot Franklin. The pumpkin is not going to get up and walk away.”, said Suzy losing her patience. Franklin really wanted to go out and check on the pumpkin, but the delicious smell of food that wafted up from the table was awakening his appetite. His favorite breakfast was a buffet. There was sausage, ham and eggs, buttermilk pancakes, jams, butter, milk and coffee. Franklin shrugged his shoulders and sat down to eat, his appetite getting the last word over the argument.
The town of Autumn Dale had adopted an Autumn Festival that combined Oktoberfest and Halloween as a yearly event. It was a huge out of doors party with rides, games, competitions and food stands. One of the most loved and followed competitions was the pie baking contest which grandmother Katherine entered each year, and had won a few times. The competition of the pie contest was fierce with about one hundred contestants from all over the county. The typical entries were apple, pumpkin and sweet potato. Grandma Katherine always submitted an apple pie. The winner had their photo in the local paper, a blue ribbon, a small trophy and prize money of one hundred dollars. Most important were the bragging rights of being the best pie baker in King George County. After the winner of the pie baking contest was announced and celebrated, the party then moved outside where the annual pie eating contest was displayed before the eyes of all present. Twelve brave souls gave it their all to win the title of the best pie eater of the county, a trophy and one hundred dollars of prize money.
Franklin’s hand almost reached the coffee pot when his mother’s hand nonchalantly intercepted his as a matter of habit. “Frankie you should know better. Go get dressed.” “Aw Mom, you know I hate being called Frankie.” “Franklin, mind your mother.” “Yes Dad.” Franklin finished eating breakfast amongst talk of pies, pumpkins, contests and preparations and then ran upstairs. As he was getting dressed he could hear the loading up of the car. Grandma Katherine was giving orders one after the other. “Careful with that box.”, he could hear her say to Grandpa. “I’ll take this one don’t touch it!”, she said.
With hair combed and teeth brushed Franklin ran down the stairs and out the rear door towards the pumpkin enclosure. “Dad game the key to the enclosure.”, said Franklin. “Get in the car Franklin. We don’t have time.” Franklin reluctantly got in the car, disappointment on his face. They had to leave or risk being late for the pie baking contest. As they drove off Franklin looked out the rear window at the enclosure. The tarp rose! “Something pushed up the tarp!” he exclaimed. David stopped the car and got out to look, but the tarp was in place. “I don’t see anything.”, he said. “I swear I saw it rise.” “That’s enough now Franklin.”, said David getting back into the car and driving off. Franklin looked back, staring at the enclosure. Had he really seen it rise?
Waking up, sometimes, is a hard thing to do, especially when it is for the first time in one’s life. The creature stirred in its sleep, a strange dream faded away. Suddenly awaking, the creature was startled. It stood up suddenly, its head pushing up the tarp from the middle until it reached its full height. The sensation of the tarp tensing against its pushing confused the creature and it summarily sat down. There was light entering from the top and bottom, around the perimeter of the enclosure. It blinked its eyes for about a minute and slowly got used to the light. Feeling a slight itch towards its middle it looked down to see a vine that connected it to the ground. It was only a slight itch at first but quickly grew stronger. It reached with its hand and scratched where the vine attached to its middle. The vine wiggled loose and quickly fell off. Its umbilical cord was cut, separating it from Mother Earth. It was officially born.
It moved unsteadily toward the gate of the enclosure, where more light was entering. It pushed against the gate making it move a little on its hinges. More light flooded in making it blink. Not understanding why the gate would not move, the creature pushed harder on the gate which did not move much. The third time it pushed much harder on the gate. The padlock did not break, but the screws which held the loop and plate were torn off. Sunlight now flooded in the enclosure, energizing the creature. It sat there for a little while feeling its strength grow by the minute. When it felt good and strong it got up and went outside. Looking around it could see no one. It started to remember, “Franklin?”. “Franklin.”, it called out his name with no answer. “The Autumn Festival.”, it remembered. It turned and began to walk down the road.
By the time they got to the Autumn Festival it was already buzzing with activity. Many stores of Autumn Dale had a stand. They were already selling books, breakfast, clothes and various other items. The Steins parked their car and made their way to the tent to submit their pies. Franklin looked around trying to take it all in and at the same time looked for his best friends. When they got pretty close to the tent Claire and Joey appeared. “Good morning.”, they all said. “Where are your parents kids?”, asked Suzy Stein. “Inside”, they said in unison. The children remained talking outside while the adults went inside to register.”
“Did you guys scope out the competition…”, asked Franklin. “Franklin, I’ve told you ‘guys’ is a chauvinistic term that I don’t appreciate.”, snorted Claire with a ‘hmf’ at the end. “There goes the feminist again.”, said Joey shaking his head. “…of the pumpkin growing contest?” finished Franklin ignoring the argument he heard a thousand times. “Do you like my new dress Franklin.”, asked Claire with no segue. “Yeah, real hardcore feminist always trying to get a compliment from Franklin.”, said Joey bating his eyes and pursing his lips in caricature of Claire. Tired of arguing, Claire just turned and punched Joey in the arm. Joey was giggling so hard that the punch almost knocked him to the ground. “Hey!”, he called out. “You asked for it. Don’t complain.”, commanded Claire matter of factly. “Will you two quit it already! Look.” It was Farmer Peter French and his son Bill.
“Hi kids.” “Hello Mr. French.”, they said almost in unison. “How are things?”, Peter French continued. “Things are fine, thanks.”, they all answered. “Ready to lose, Frank the prank?”, interjected Bill. “Don’t antagonize you’re friends Bill.”, said his father. “We will see tomorrow who wins.”, said Franklin challengingly. “Everyone knows your experiment is a hoax. It’s just a big prank, just like you.”, replied Bill. “Frank the prank, Frank the prank, Frank the prank!” Franklin bit his lower lip. It was impossible to talk to such a jerk. “No it’s not!”, declared Claire. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes plenty of times. And it’s huge.”, she added with a hmf. “Huge like the crush you have on Franklin!”, Bill declared at the top of his lungs so all around could hear. Claire, blushing, elbowed Joey who was now giggling. “Hey you hurt!”, Joey exclaimed. “Joey Pinolli beat up by a girl … again.”, declared Bill. By this time the parents had finished registering inside and had joined them outside to hear the end of the conversation. “Claire, why are you hurting Joey again?”, asked her mother. “Because he doesn’t know when to shut up.”, she replied. “Hey, I didn’t even say anything!”, said Joey exasperated. “It’s the way you didn’t say anything.”, replied Claire. “That’s women for you.”, said Joey resignedly. Everyone looked on amused except for Franklin who was in agony over such an undignified exchange.
“Ready for tomorrow?”, asked David of Peter French. “Oh Yeah! We’ll make a good showing like always.” He suddenly lowered the tone of his voice, “I don’t want to brag, but we will probably break 700 pounds.”, said Peter winking all the while. “Anyway good luck tomorrow.”, he added. “Yeah, you’ll need it.”, added Bill abrasively. After the French’s left Franklin turned and asked his father, “Dad do you think our pumpkin is over 700 pounds?” David nodded his head, “Ours will be about 750 pounds. Theirs will not be over 700 pounds.” “How do you know that Dad?” “I know because inside the tent Mrs. French was talking about the size of their pumpkin. This morning it weighed 695 pounds. Under normal growing conditions a pumpkin can’t gain five pounds in a day. “But we don’t have a normal pumpkin, do we Dad?” “No we don’t. We have our Pumpkinstein!”, he said arms raised like the monster in the old movie. Everyone laughed and Franklin felt better. They didn’t know that they had just given the creature its name.
Pumpkinstein crossed open land rather quickly with his long legs. Everywhere he looked things were new to him. Being born of the earth, they were also familiar. He found himself surrounded by birds, trees, grass, rocks, sky and clouds; with the feeling of wind on his face he felt complete inside. But he had to find his friend Franklin. Franklin came to see him many times and read to him every night. They even had an appointment to play. He was a young creature, after all, and the desire to play came to him naturally. Today was the first day of the Autumn Fest. There would be fun, games and competitions. It would be the perfect place for them to get together and play. But first he had to get there.
Pumpkinstein arrived at a fence and a corn field. The tall corn stalks made a whispering sound in the wind. It seemed like they said ‘hello’ to him. Pumpkinstein waved back because it was good manners and continued on. It was slow going through the corn stalks since they were so dense. He had to push them aside every step of the way. Suddenly there was an opening. In front of him was a service road for vehicles. He stood there with the long direction to his left and to his right. He stepped out and looked around. It was the same in both directions, but a noise in the distance could now be heard. He turned and walked in that direction.
When Pumpkinstein arrived at the end of the road he could see a house much like the Stein’s. There were voices coming from the house. He became curious and decided to go take a look. As he moved closer he could hear someone say ‘Bye’ then the motor of a truck and it driving off. Once there, Pumpkinstein could see the truck driving off and a little girl sitting in a shiny chair with wheels. She was crying. Pumpkinstein walked right over to her and asked “Why are you crying?” She looked up and suddenly stopped crying. “Wow. Nice costume” “This is not a costume. This is me?”, replied Pumpkinstein taking no offense. She looked at the stranger sideways and asked suspiciously, “Oh yeah. Well what are you then?” “I’m a pumpkin.”, he replied matter-of-factly. She looked at him more suspiciously than before, “Pumpkins don’t walk and talk, at least not the regular kind.” Pumpkinstein’s face turned into an expression of confusion, “Why not?” “Because they don’t. If anything you must be some kind of pumpkin creature. Do you have a name?”, she asked. “Uh…they have always called me Pumpkin.” “Well Pumpkin, I’m Mary. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”, she said extending her hand. So, Pumpkin and Mary shook hands. “Why were you crying, Mary?” “I was crying because we can’t go to the Autumn Festival this morning. Maybe we can go this afternoon.” “Maybe we go together.”, offered Pumpkin. “I was going to look for my friend Franklin. Do you know him?” “I know Franklin. He lives right down the road from us. AH HA! You must be the pumpkin experiment we all heard about.” “I must be?”, asked Pumpkin. “Yes. The whole county has heard about you. You are famous!” “Wow! I didn’t know I was famous.” There was a pause in the conversation while they both contemplated the revelation and collected their thoughts.
It was Pumpkin who spoke first returning to the subject at hand, “Would you like to come with me to the Autumn Festival?” “I don’t think my mother would let me.”, said Mary. “Maybe we could play together before you go. It’s still early.”, she suggested. “Ok. What do you want to do?” “Follow me.”, she said rolling her wheel chair. Why don’t you get up and walk?”, asked Pumpkin. “Boy, do you have a lot to learn! My legs don’t work.”, she said. “Why?” “Because they don’t. I was born this way.” “Let me push you.” Pumpkin took the handles and began to move around. Mary began to laugh. “Run!”, she exclaimed. Pumpkin began to run, pushing her all the way to the end of the service road and back. The whole time Mary laughed merrily as the corn stalks moved past her in a blur. Her parents were always telling her to be careful, but this time she really let herself go. When she was thoroughly out of breath Pumpkin stopped to let her catch her breath. He wasn’t even tired. “Wow! That was really a lot of fun. I’ve never done anything like that before.”, said Mary beaming. “I’m glad you had fun. But maybe we should change games or you will get too tired.”, said Pumpkin. “Ok. Have you ever played tea party?”, asked Mary. “No.” “Well, let’s go this way.”, she directed with her hand. He pushed her to the back of the house where there was a little plastic table already set up with a little plastic tea set. Mary rolled up to the table and Pumpkin sat across from her, making himself fit into the little plastic chair. They began chatting while Mary passed the cup and saucers. They talked like old friends, while inside Mary’s mother heard the talking and laughing. Mary’s mother was inside, in the kitchen doing chores when she heard Mary talking to someone. From the kitchen window she saw Mary talking to a large child wearing a costume with a pumpkin on their head. She went outside to investigate.
Ester, Mary’s mother, walked over and said, “Hello.”, slightly surprising the both of them who did not see her arrive. “Mom, meet Pumpkin. He’s my new friend.”, said Mary. “Hello Mary’s mother.”, was the reply but without being snotty. “You may call me Mrs. Anderson. Mary where is your new friend from?” “He’s from the Stein farm.”, replied Mary. “You mean he’s a relative of theirs?”, asked Ester staring hard at Pumpkin trying to find a family resemblance or at least a seam in the mask he was wearing. “No, Mom. He’s really a pumpkin creature. He’s the pumpkin growing experiment of the Stein’s. He’s playing with me because I’m all alone.” “He’s a what?”, cried out Ester. “AAHH!” The yell scared the both of them. It pushed Mary back in her chair and poor Pumpkin fell over backwards. Mary’s mother grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and pushed her towards the house, running away from what she thought was a threat. But poor Pumpkin was scared out of his wits. Not knowing what to do he jumped up and ran away.
Autumn Dale was not so big a town. So when the police were mobilized for reports of a strange creature, the local TV station quickly found out. What sparked the interest of the journalists were the reports of a strange creature and eye witness accounts of encounters with the creature.
Mrs. Trixie Kregan
“Well, I was surprised to find the laundry ironed, folded, and placed in the laundry basket. Just a little while beforehand I was wondering out loud about how I could get all my chores done today. Then I found the laundry on the table outside and in the distance I could see someone moving away from our house.”
Tom and Joe, the Thompson twins.
Tom: “We were walking with our bicycles…”
Joe: “Yeah because the chain fell off of Tom’s bike.”
Tom: “Yeah, we were going real fast and jumping with this ramp we made.”
Joe: “Yeah, it was really cool.”, he said tracing an arc with his hand for emphasis.
Tom: “And then this tall thin pumpkin creature named Creature…
Joe: “No. He was named Pumpkin.”
Tom: “Yea right, named Pumpkin, walked right over and asked if we needed help. So he fixed the chain and then all three of us went back and took turns jumping the ramp.”
Joe: “Oh yeah, he had a pumpkin for a head.”
“Well, there is not much to say. I found the cows milked and eating hay. Inside and around the barn I found these strange foot prints, barefoot prints, and someone who was moving down the road. Without my glasses I couldn’t see who it was, but I photographed some of the foot prints. There are still more of them around if you want to take a look.”
Ester and Mary Anderson
Mary: “He was real nice, liked to play and was well mannered.”
Ester: “It was horrible! We were in danger! It’s a miracle we weren’t killed!”
“Despite the claims of Mrs. Anderson the Police maintain that is was just a Halloween Prank, and no one was hurt.”, this is Gary Fields for WAWH News.
Pumpkin had been looking through the window for a while. It had been easy sneaking up on the house or so he thought. There had been an old man sitting on the back porch. Pumpkin looked on for a chance to cross the property without being seen. At first the old man looked like he was asleep. He just sat there, facing the same direction. After a while he got up and went inside. From besides his chair he picked up something Pumpkin had never seen. It was a long white cane with a red tip. He waved the cane in front of him as he walked into the house. Pumpkin had never seen such a thing. His curiosity raised, he moved closer for a better look. From the windows pumpkin could see the man move around the house doing things. Sometimes with his arms stretched out, feeling his way around.
Pumpkin went from window to window, peeking in, not understanding why the old man couldn’t see him. Then the old man moved into the kitchen and sat down at the kitchen table. “I know you’re there.”, said the old man. “It’s not polite to spy.” Pumpkin remained in silence, contemplating what to do. The old man once again broke the silence. “Who are you? What’s your name?”, he asked. From outside the window pumpkin waved his hands in front of the old man, who was staring into space again. The old man made no indication that he saw Pumpkin. “Are you still there?”, he asked. “Can’t you see me out here?”, asked Pumpkin in his juvenile voice. “No, little girl. I can’t.” “I’m not a girl.”, was the reply. “I’m sorry little boy.” “I’m not a little boy either and there is no reason to be sorry.” “What are you then?” “I’m a pumpkin creature. What are you?” “I’m a blind old man.” Pumpkin thought about Mary. He now understood the situation. The two remained in silence for a minute contemplating the significance of the exchange. The old man broke the silence, “Well what are you waiting for. C’mon in.” “Are you alone?”, asked Pumpkin. “Yes.” “Ok. I’ll come in.”
Henry was a kind and gentle person. He lived alone. He was trying to enjoy the rest of his solitary life before he went to go live with his nephew, but right now he was going to have fun with the trick-or-treaters. He figured the best way to have some fun was to encourage the youngster’s imagination. Pumpkin entered the backdoor like he had seen Henry do. Looking around constantly for other people, he headed towards the kitchen. Pumpkin was barely there when the old man spoke, “What’s your name?” “Pumpkin. What’s your name?” “My name is Henry. Pleased to meet you Pumpkin.” Henry stretched out his hand, “Come close so I can see you.”, he said. “I’ve never seen a pumpkin creature before.” “How does a blind man see?”, asked Pumpkin. “I see with my hands. Come here. Don’t be afraid.” Pumpkin moved all the way to the tips of Henry’s fingers. As soon as Henry’s hand touched that of pumpkin he knew there was something different. His facial expression turned from one of amused curiosity to one of surprise as his fingers ran over Pumpkins hand. He pulled Pumpkin closer for a better look. “Do you mind letting me see your face?”, he asked. Pumpkin kneeled down and placed Henry’s hands on his face. Henry began to run his fingers over Pumpkin’s face, head, neck, shoulders and arms. When he was finished Henry sat back in his chair. “Well I’ll be…you really are a pumpkin creature.”
“Pumpkin, why don’t you sit down and tell me about how you came to be.” Pumpkin relaxed at hearing Henry’s reaction. More yelling was not what he needed. So Pumpkin related his story to Henry. He spent about a half hour telling about his first day, which had been quite busy. Henry sat in silence while Pumpkin told him about the girl in the wheel chair and her mother, the laundry, the twins, the cows with belly aches because there was no one to milk them. “What if Franklin’s parents behave like Mary’s mother Ester?”, he finally asked. Henry paused and spoke before speaking. “So you can speak to animals, hu?” “What? Oh yeah, and insects too.” “What do the insects say?” “Well they complain that the plants they eat all taste like insecticides. Henry why do people use insecticides?” “Well, people use insecticides to increase food supplies for people. The fact that they cause problems is not an easy issue to discuss, but farmers are slowly eliminating them. People are good at adapting.” “Why do they yell when they see me then?”, asked Pumpkin. Henry was impressed with the intelligence and frankness that Pumpkin displayed.
“Adapting takes time. Quite simply, Pumpkin, you are too new.” Henry took another pause before he continued. “Adapting is a slow and constant process like growing old. It happens a little at a time. So slow that you can’t see it with your eyes. Sight is the sense that is used most, the most developed one, and that is why people rely on it the most. The problem is that our eyes can play tricks on us. Like when shadows and light interplay and you can’t make out what you are seeing.” “But your eyes don’t work Henry.” “True. But there are different ways to see that are more reliable.” “Like what?” “Like hearing. My ears are keen despite old age.” “That’s true. You surprised me.”, said Pumpkin.
Henry continued, “When people rely on their sight, and all they see are differences, they may become afraid. Especially when the differences are big ones. But differences make us unique and special. You are very special, Pumpkin, because you are very unique. Since you are so particular all eyes will always be on you, and since our eyes can deceive us sometimes people will be too surprised or scared to see what really matters. A persons heart.” “But I’m a plant creature. I don’t have a heart.” Henry laughed in spite of himself. I seems Pumpkin had a lot to learn. “No, I mean to say that you are a good person. I am used to understanding people by the way they talk and behave and not from appearances. The people who can see, sometimes, can’t see and while blind people can see all the way down to the heart.” “Well how can we get everyone to see the real me so I can stop hiding?” “ Luckily Halloween is coming up Pumpkin. We need a plan.”
When the Steins got home they found the enclosure door torn off and nothing inside. They looked on in shock, but none more than Franklin. David ran and called the police from the house. “Who would do such a thing?”, started Franklin. Franklin ran and called Joey and Claire when his dad was done with the phone. Grandma Katherine’s first prize for the best apple pie got placed on the back burner while they were all overcome with outrage for the theft. Walter stooped down and picked up pieces of metal while the others conjectured about what could have happened. He held them in his hand. “Dad, what are you looking at?”, said David. “Yeah Grandpa. What are you looking at?” “Do you see anything strange here?”, asked Walter. Everyone gathered around and looked. “Do you notice anything?”, Walter asked again. “Like what?” asked Katherine. “Like the hinge was torn off. Here are some screws.”, Walter stated matter-of-factly. They contemplated what this could mean. “That’s strange.”, said Suzy. “If someone came to steal the pumpkin, wouldn’t they have used a chain cutter or something?”, said Walter. “Yeah, and why would they steal it? Wouldn’t it be easier to just ruin the pumpkin. There aren’t any tire tracks leading up to the enclosure. It’s not like they could walk off with a 750 pound pumpkin.”, added David. “We would recognize our own if they tried to pass the pumpkin off at the contest.”, said Katherine. “Maybe there is another explanation.”, said Franklin.
Franklin was down on his hands and knees in front of the gate examining something. “Look at these funny tracks. They look like some kind of foot prints, and they are leading away from the enclosure.”, he pointed out. They all got down to examine the tracks. “As strange as they are they, they look like tracks!”, said Walter. “What on earth could have made those tracks?”, asked Katherine. David used his hands to measure the tracks. They were two hands long, and one hand wide with fingers open. They were rounded in the heal with five leaf shaped toes.
Franklin got up and brushed off his pants. “As crazy as it seems, it looks like something broke out of the enclosure and walked away.”, said Walter scratching his head. “Not something. The only thing missing!”, exclaimed Franklin. “That’s crazy!”, said Katherine. “That’s not possible!”, said Suzy. “That’s Science Fiction.”, added David. “It’s just like Frankenstein, a lightning strike brought the monster to life.”, concluded Walter. “I’m going to follow the tracks. Don’t tell anything to the police.”, said Franklin. “Of course we won’t! They’ll think we are all nuts!”, exclaimed Suzy. Franklin ran to get his bicycle just the police were arriving. There was still enough light for Franklin to follow the tracks, down the road, around the bend…and all the way to the fence of the Anderson Farm. He decided to go straight to the front door of the Andersons and avoid going through the corn field.
Franklin found Ester and Mary very willing to talk about what happened. They were still excited about their encounter with Pumpkin. “Franklin!”, said Mary greeting him with a big smile. “Boy, do I have news for you.”, she said. “We were expecting you.”, said Ester. “Why?”, he asked. “Because Pumpkin was here.”, said Mary. “Where is he now?”, he asked. “He ran away.”, said Mary giving her mother a snotty look. “Let us tell you all about it.” Mary and Ester took turns telling Franklin all about what happened. He didn’t ask one question, he just absorbed all the details wide eyed. When they were finished he asked, “Where is he now?” “We don’t know. Like I said, he ran off.”, said Mary giving her mother another snotty look.
It was getting too dark now to follow the tracks. Franklin said goodbye and headed home. When he got there the words shot out of his mouth like a machine gun. He stood in the kitchen telling everyone what had happened at the Anderson’s farm. They looked on bewildered as he recounted the details. “Maybe it was a ruse. You know, a prank to go along with the robbery.”, said David. “Dad, this isn’t a Scooby Doo Mystery where there is a fake monster to cover up a robbery. This is real life!”, said Franklin exasperated that they were having trouble believing him. “I’m with Franklin.”, said Walter suddenly. “Well, anyway, let’s eat something before it gets any later.”, said Suzy. They all could agree on that, so they ate soup and sandwiches and apple pie. As they ate they spoke animatedly about the day. It had been a long day and there was still this mystery hanging over their heads. Walter kept repeating, “A lightning strike got the whole thing started.”, until they were too tired to listen anymore. They went to bed tired but looking forward to the next day.
The next morning Franklin woke up later than he wanted to. He hurried to get dressed and went down to go look for Pumpkin, but he was greeted by the smell of bacon, eggs and pancakes. He decided to stop and eat breakfast without arguing this time. He sat down just as his Grandmother was serving him. “Pass the syrup. I’m in a hurry.”, he said. “Where are you going?”, said his mother Suzy. “I was going to go out with Claire and Joey and search for Pumpkin.” “We’ll see them this afternoon Frankie. What’s the rush?” “The rush is that Pumpkin could be lost or hurt!”. “You don’t even know where to look, and you can’t ride your bikes for miles and miles.” It was true both Claire and Joey lived pretty far away. Just getting to their houses would take long. “Then I’ll go alone and look for Pumpkin.” “No.”, said Grandma Katherine. “No you don’t. If anything we’ll go to the Autumn Festival early. You yourself said he was going there. If he is there I am sure he will be easy to notice.” “But mom, can I at least call Joey and Claire and the police?” “After you finish your breakfast. It’s still early.”
Franklin called the sheriff at nine o’clock. He asked if they had any leads or anymore strange sightings like the TV news reports. The answer was no to both. Franklin called the Thompson twins because they had had a face to face encounter with Pumpkin and asked them to describe the whole incident. Their description of events and of Pumpkin was similar to that of the Anderson’s. In both accounts they said Pumpkin mentioned that he was going to find Franklin at the Autumn Festival. That meant Pumpkin was searching for him right now. It was only a matter of time before they found each other. Going to the Autumn Festival seemed like the right thing to do and Franklin couldn’t wait to get there! He called Claire and Joey and updated them, and asked if they could get to the Autumn Festival early. They could, so Franklin did the only thing he could do, for the moment. He waited.
Time passed quicker than Franklin had imagined. The morning flew by, as did the morning chores. After lunch Franklin put on his costume and the whole family headed to the Autumn Festival. Their program started with a hay ride, hot cider, pies and cakes, the cornfield maze and then trick or treating. Last was a huge outdoor Halloween party with music dancing and a best costume competition at the end. When they got there Franklin practically jumped out of the car before it stopped. “See you later.”, he said already looking around for Claire, Joey and Pumpkin. The hay ride began just outside of town and ended at the Anderson Farm. Each year it was a different farm as the setting of the corn stalk maze. Each year the town square was the setting of the Halloween ball. The square was converted into a scene from a horror movie with zombies, witches, werewolves, vampires, mummies, Frankenstein’s monster and all the favorite superhero’s. Franklin was betting that this year there would be new entry that wouldn’t need a costume.
It was not long before Franklin found Joey and Claire. Franklin’s family caught up to him by the time he finished explaining his plan to his friends. They found Mary and her mother as they made their way looking for room on a hay wagon. They all said hello and quickly climbed aboard the first hay wagon so they could all talk about what happened the day before. The way Mary spoke left Claire and Joey mesmerized. “When I first seen Pumpkin he was a good seven feet tall! With really long arms! Somehow he could change size, like only a pumpkin creature could, to fit into a little plastic garden chair.”, she recounted with emphasis. “C’mon you’re fibbing. This is just a Halloween trick.”, said Claire. “No it’s not. It’s the truth.”, defended Mary. “I believe her.”, defended Franklin. “Me too.”, said Joey. Claire crossed her arms and scowled in defiance. “Mrs. Anderson, tell Mary to stop lying.” “I would like to Claire, but we saw what we saw.” Silence fell over the group as they thought about that last statement by Mrs. Anderson. Whatever happened, they were expecting an adventure.
When they were finally off the hay wagon, they gathered into a group before heading into the cornfield maze. There were many people there by that time making noise and confusion in good fun. The Best Pumpkin Contest was underway. Despite the cold, a few brave souls were bobbing for apples. Volunteers were handing out hot apple cider to those who wanted it. Ralph, Mary’s father, showed up to officially open the maze. He went and stood by the entrance, microphone in hand. “Welcome, thanks for coming out today. Welcome to Autumn Dale’s annual Halloween festivities. Before I open the maze I would like to thank all the people who volunteer each year to make our Autumn Festival a success. Let me add that this morning there was another sighting of the pumpkin creature.” “Really?”, asked Franklin of Mary. “No. Dad is just trying to scare everyone. No one is really afraid of a corn field maze anymore. Only little children.”, she replied. Ralph continued, “The creature was seen carrying an ax in one hand, and a severed human head in the other!”, he said with emphasis. “So if you got the guts, he he, enter the maze at your own risk. But don’t turn your backs. Mu ha ha ha.” Unperturbed, they all went towards the entrance of the corn maze.
“Let’s review the plan.”, started Franklin. “How much more simple can this plan be? All we have to do is keep our eyes open for a big freaky pumpkin creature!”, exclaimed Claire. “Lets’ go have some fun!”, said Mary. “Yeah, just enjoy yourself Franklin!”, reprimanded Joey as some speakers close to them erupted with the sound of a werewolf howling, making them all jump in spite of themselves. They looked at each other and laughed when a werewolf jumped out from the cornstalks making them all flee. When they stopped running, they laughed even harder. Franklin felt better now, ready to relax and have fun. “C’mon. It’s my turn to help Mary with the wheelchair.”, he said starting off again. They made their way to the center of the maze plagued by rubber bats and fake vampires and assorted monsters. At the center of the maze was a square opening. All was quiet enough. Too quiet they noticed. Before any one of them could speak the corn stalks rustled and a figure with a jack-o-lantern on his head ran towards them brandishing an ax in one hand and the head of a manikin in the other. The costume was obviously last-minute and made them all laugh instead of scaring them. The pumpkin creature costumed person tripped over his own feet and fell to the floor, smashing the pumpkin he was wearing on his head. “Oh, my gosh, Dad!”, said Mary. “Is this the big surprise you mentioned this morning?” “You could have spared the pumpkin for a pie.”, said Joey. Ralph got up brushing himself off. “I didn’t have much time to prepare the costume.”, he said. “I wanted to take advantage of the pumpkin creature siting’s to scare a few people. I was hoping to start a media interest like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. It could bring in a lot of tourism.”, he finished unashamedly. “Maybe we can talk about it at another time.”, said Franklin. “Bye, see you later.”, they all said. “Don’t tell anyone.”, ralph added as they started away.
The prize for traversing the maze was more hot apple cider and pie and cake, but no Pumpkin. The children regrouped together with the adults and decided they would all go trick-or-treating together since they were having so much fun. After they had left, one of the townsfolk, Ben Johnson, went up to Ralph and said, “Nice maze Ralph.” “Thanks Ben. We really worked hard on the maze this year.” “Hey, it shows Ralph. I especially liked that pumpkin creature. He startled me at first because he was so realistic, but he was so nice he really couldn’t scare any of us.” “What pumpkin creature?” “The one at the center of the maze.” “That’s strange. There must be a second pumpkin creature. Ours was a flop.”, said Ralph. “Well he is a sure win for the best costume contest.”, returned Ben. “He looked like he was designed by a Hollywood special effects team. Anyway, I’ll see you later Ralph.” Ralph scratched his chin. Was there really a pumpkin creature on the loose? Ralph rushed over and found Franklin and the gang. He recounted what Ben had said leaving it open for their conclusion. “How long ago did this happen?”, asked Franklin. “About ten minutes ago.”, said Ralph. “Pumpkin is here. All we have to do is keep our eyes open.”, said Franklin excitedly. “It’s only a matter of time.”
Franklin was a little downhearted and excited as well. He knew that Pumpkin was wandering about like a trick-or-treater looking for him. Since Pumpkin had never seen Franklin before it would be somewhat difficult for him to find Franklin. In the meantime he was enjoying the trick-or-treating. Seizing the opportunity for a trick, Claire told Franklin, “Open your hands and close your eyes and I will give you a big surprise.” When he had done so she kissed him right there in front of everyone. Everyone laughed and clapped and Joey said, “Finally!” Franklin blushed tomato red. He didn’t know what to say or do. He felt Mary take his hand in her hand and say, “Come on Franklin. Let’s talk.”.
They walked a little bit away from the group, who pretended not to look, and Claire started by saying, “Franklin, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. “Yeah. Huh? What? I uh” “What Franklin?” “I just wasn’t expecting it. That’s all.” Franklin was feeling more embarrassed now that they were still talking about the kiss. “Are you sure, Franklin? I mean I thought you liked my too.”, she said smiling. “Well I do. Like a friend. I mean Joey is a friend too.” “What’s that supposed to mean?”, asked Claire. Franklin could tell Claire was getting angry, and knew he couldn’t stop it. He didn’t understand women. “Oh, boy. Here it comes!”, Franklin thought. “If Joey kissed you would you blush like this?”, she asked. “NOO! I would beat him up.” “So beat me up, if you can!” Claire threw down the challenge defiantly, knowing she had already won the argument. “Look, Claire, I just don’t want to get married.”, said Franklin in desperation, not knowing how to get out of this mess. Claire’s jaw dropped and she blinked in quick succession with surprise. “You are sooo stupid Franklin Stein. I don’t know why everyone says you are so smart! I don’t even know why I like you!”, she said hauling off and punching him in the jaw so hard he fell to the ground. Claire stomped away in a huff, leaving Franklin lying there.
Franklin could hear everyone laughing again. Claire’s mother was half consoling her and half reproving her for the punch. Joey walked over and held out his hand. “C’mon Franklin, get up. There are a lot of people watching.”, he said. When Franklin was up and dusting himself off Joey began to speak, “That’s women for you, one minute they’re all hugs and kisses and the next thing you know you are lying on your back in front of a crowd of people and your jaw hurts and your pride is killing you.” “Yeah.”, said Franklin. “I’m glad your engaged to her and not me.”, said Joey. “Nice thing to say to a friend!” “I’m not going trick-or-treating with him!”, Claire said loudly and all present knew to whom she was referring. “You’ll never hear the end of this.”, said Joey. “What did you say to her anyway?” “All I said was that I don’t want to get married.”, said Franklin feeling justified. “Franklin you understand science but you don’t understand women.” “What? You do?” “I know this Franklin all you had to do was agree with her and it would have been all over. All you had to do was say something nice like you liked the kiss and like her too. She kissed you in front of practically everyone and all you could say was that? It’s no wonder she hit you.”, added Joey shaking his head.
Franklin thought he understood the lesson and thought about what to do next. He looked at Joey with new respect. Joey had shown himself to be very mature. “Go make up with her right now.”, said Joey. “What kind of man are you?” Without saying a word Franklin walked over to Claire, took her by the hand and pulled her to the side. Everyone once again watched the spectacle. This time it ended in a kiss. Franklin was blushing none the less, but he was still on his feet. “All’s well that ends well.”, said Joey smiling.
The trick-or-treating was a sugar induced haze of monsters, laughs and fun. They went around collecting candy and tricks. Glenn Brooks, who was also in their class, met up with them and took them to houses where the owners played better tricks than the kids did. Terry fields, the wife of the reporter Gary sat in a rocking chair dressed as a scarecrow and scared the wits out of passersby and trick-or-treaters. Harry Fritz popped out of a hole in the ground like a zombie and tried to drag people down the hole! He even grabbed poor Joey’s leg. No one had ever heard such a loud scream before.
After they had covered just about the whole town, they stopped to discuss how much fun they had trick-or-treating. The kids spoke animatedly while the adults decided to stay in town for dinner. As they headed over to Main Street to go eat, they could hear people say, “Best costume I have ever see. Looks like a real live pumpkin creature. Franklin whipped around and asked, “Where did you see him!” It was the librarian, Mrs. Cunningham, who knew Franklin well. “Hello, Franklin. It was on Washington lane a half hour ago. Is it important?” “Yes. Did you see what he was doing?” “He was trick-or-treating and playing with the children. I stopped to pay him a compliment on his costume. He was very polite and even asked about you, Franklin.” Franklin’s face lit up. He wanted to rush down to Washington Lane, but it was far away, and who knew where Pumpkin could be. They said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham and went to eat. There was still the dance. He had to find him there.
The Halloween Ball didn’t vary much from year to year, but it was always great. Music, lights, smoke machines, sound effects, dancing, and it ended with a best costume contest. When Franklin and the group got there the music had just begun and the party was really hopping. The first song was by tradition Monster Mash, which was usually played several times during the ball because of popular demand. The Stein party jumped right in and started dancing. Here and there, there were larger and smaller groups forming larger and smaller dancing circles. People hopped, kicked and jumped, hands flew up and down in what looked more like a school gymnastics class than dancing. When the Monster Mash finished playing there was an instant of silence which erupted into wild cheers. In the cold exuberance of the night, everything was perfect.
After a few songs the Stein party was quite tired. They had given it all they had on the dance floor and found themselves out of breath. They all made their way to the refreshment stand. More hot apple cider was the order of the day. “There’s nothing like hot apple cider.”, said Walter. While they were enjoying cakes again Bill French appeared out of nowhere with his parents. “Losers. You destroyed your own pumpkin so you wouldn’t have to face us in the contest.”, accused Bill. “We did not!”, challenged Franklin. “Yeah, Franklin doesn’t tell lies. He doesn’t need to, unlike you!”, said Claire holding Franklin’s hand in solidarity. “Love birds, fly away.”, returned Bill. “Kiss, kiss, blah, blah! How gross!” “Your face is gross!”, answered Claire. “Franklin is a good kisser.” “Claire that’s private.”, whispered Franklin to her. “Sorry. I was just trying to defend us.”, she responded. “I’ll do that.”
Franklin stepped forward to be face to face with Bill. “We’re not losers and we didn’t sabotage our experiment.”, he said defiantly. “Then what happened?”, challenged Bill. “We don’t know…yet.”, responded Franklin. Bill laughed hard. “No one believes you. C’mon.”, he said pulling both his parents who were embarrassed. “Let’s go have some fun.” The three left, Mr. and Mrs. French didn’t even say one word. “It’s ok Franklin. It’s just Bill.”, said Joey. “No, Bill’s right. It doesn’t look good for us. Who would believe a pumpkin came to life and is looking for me right now?” “I would.”, came a voice. It was Henry.
“Who’s Franklin?”, he asked everyone present. Franklin raised his hand. Henry’s nephew Andrew led him over to where Franklin was standing. Everyone gathered around intrigued by the sudden arrival of the old man and his nephew. They all shook hands and introduced themselves, and then Henry said, “I believe you. Let me tell you a story about someone I met yesterday.” Henry proceeded to tell them all about what happened and their plan for Pumpkin to circulate on Halloween night like a costumed trick-or-treater. “Our hope is that people get to know him and stop being afraid of him. He’s here right now. If you look around you will find him.” “I knew he had to be here tonight of all nights!”, said Franklin. “Come on guys. Let’s go look for Pumpkin!” They rushed back toward the party, leaving Henry to talk to Suzy and Katherine.
The dance floor was a tangled mess of confusion, where SuperGirl danced with a zombie and the Smurfs were break dancing amidst colored lights, artificial smoke, disco music and the occasional sound effect. Franklin held hands with Claire as they weaved through the crowd. Looking back they could not see Joey anymore. On the dance floor a big teddy bear bumped into Claire almost knocking her down. It was then that they noticed a dance circle towards the center of the dance floor. People were joining the circle making it even bigger. The two of them moved in to see what was going on. Amidst the din surrounding the circle was the occasional “Great!” “Wow!” and “Look!”. People reached the perimeter of the circle like waves reaching the shore line to join with it. Once they were part of the circle they could see what was going on inside. There he was, finally. Franklin could hardly believe his eyes.
In the center of the circle was Pumpkin, dancing like crazy; jumping, spinning, kicking, arms flailing and writhing all at the same time. “Incredible!”, people were repeating. No one had ever seen dancing quite like that before. Franklin stood there still as a stone, his heart pounding while all around people danced and jived. Franklin didn’t know what to do, but after a few minutes the circle began to break up. He saw his chance. He advanced quickly towards Pumpkin, still holding Claire by the hand. Joey appeared from out of nowhere with Henry and the rest of the Stein group following close by. When they got close to Pumpkin, Franklin stopped suddenly. They all held their breath as the two finally stood face to face. “I knew you would find me.”, they both said at the same time, and then they hugged.
The company of friends stood there for a moment until Mary spoke up saying, “Don’t just stand there. Let’s go inside the house. They all made their way towards the house, unnoticed by the rest of the crowd at the party. Inside the Anderson living room they began to barrage Pumpkin with questions. Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why? and How? were all discussed, also Why not?, How come?, and Who would have guessed? were also explored. They all sorted out the events and finally figured out what happened. But it was getting late and they needed to figure out what to do next. “It might be best to hide Pumpkin until we figure out what to do.”, said David Stein. “For how long could we hide him?”, asked Walter. “He could spend the rest of his life in hiding.!” “That’s true.”, said Ralph, “He could live another two hundred years.” “Oh no! I can’t hide for two hundred years”, said Pumpkin in anguish. “Yeah. We can’t confine him to life imprisonment.”, contemplated Henry. “It is certainly not fair. He has his own free will and enough brains to make his own decisions.”, said Claire. “Pumpkin should decide.”, said Mary. “You’re probably right.”, said David, “Hiding might be for his safety but wouldn’t be much of a life.” “Joey raised his hand as if he were in school, “What if the government arrested Pumpkin and did all kinds of experiments on him. You know, like the way they do to aliens.” That made them all think instead of laugh. “Well I hadn’t thought of that.”, said Walter, “He is the only one of his kind, as far as we know. “Are you sure of that?”, asked Pumpkin in earnest. “Well, we’re pretty sure.”, replied David. “Wow, Joey actually made sense for once.”, said Claire. “I always make sense. Your just not smart enough to understand.”, added Joey sticking out his tongue. Suddenly there was a knock at the door that startled them all.
They sat there looking at each other for a moment, and then Ralph went and answered the door. It was one of the event volunteers. Some volunteers needed to speak with Ralph. Henry continued the discussion, “We thought that if people got to know Pumpkin it would be easier for them to accept him. That’s why I encouraged him to come out tonight.” “Well plenty of people saw him tonight. I’m sure he gained some popularity.”, Katherine responded. “I also met a lot of people trick-or-treating.”, said Pumpkin happily. “They were all nice.” “Yeah, but they all thought you were wearing a costume.”, pointed out David. “Well, how do we get everyone to understand that looks can be deceiving, that we can’t rely only on looks?”, asked Suzy. Joey raised his hand again and spoke, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Pumpkin won the best costume contest and prove that looks can be deceiving? That way he could make the thank you speech and introduce himself.” They all looked at each other in astonishment. “You’re a genius!” exclaimed Walter and a few others. “What a great idea!”, said Franklin. “What did I miss?”, asked Ralph returning.
They would organize it so that Pumpkin would get his chance to address the crowd even if he didn’t win. But it didn’t matter. Pumpkin won anyway! Many people voted for him. Just about everyone in town had seen him that day, or played with him, or had spoken to him, or trick-or-treated with him or had been helped by him in some way.
As you can imagine, Pumpkin’s revelation shocked everyone. Some people fainted, not just women. The sheriff and the mayor intervened quickly so that no one got hurt. The sheriff escorted the Stein’s and Pumpkin to the sheriff’s office for a debriefing and then they were escorted home to the Stein’s farm. They spent the night without being disturbed, but the press came out early to the Stein’s farm the next morning.
They arranged a live interview with Pumpkin to get the real story. Everyone wanted to hear the truth directly from him. The whole county was glued to their television sets while Pumpkin recounted his compelling story from beginning end. The rest of the people involved showed up and gave their testimony as to what happened. There was so many that they all could not be fully interviewed, but they made a real solid case for Pumpkin’s legitimacy and right to be. Not only was Pumpkin not a threat but he proved to be a force for good. For just about the whole day, the Stein farm was turned into a media circus.
A fierce national and international debate rose up amongst philosophers, politicians, religious leaders and scientists. Most religious and spiritual people agreed that God works in mysterious ways that should be accepted and appreciated. Whilst the fundamentalist agreed they were against “Playing God”, it did not look like that had happened here. Many in the scientific community wanted to get their hands on him and perform experiments. Human rights advocates fought hard to make sure Pumpkin had his legal rights as a citizen and human rights as a sentient being. There were also groups publically against Pumpkin. Most people did not know what to think. The government had to step in and protect Pumpkin. It was not possible for him to roam freely, because the situation became too hot. The world had their eye on him. At least for now he lived a tranquil life on the Stein farm where he was surrounded by those who cared about him. It was going to take time for things to cool down.
Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it won’t you please take a moment to give me a review at your favorite retailer?
Gioacchino Inzirillo was born in Astoria, Queens, New York City, on November 13, 1971. The seventies was a busy time. Coat tailing the sixties freedom artistic revolution also meant children’s books abounded. From a young age he invented stories and tall tales inspired from books and cartoons, which he told to his biggest fan, his mother. His schooling was done in New York. First public school P.S. 17 for the first years, and then S.T. Joseph’s School, also in Astoria, for the lower and middle grades, graduating in 1986. He contributing heavily to the middle school year book, and concentrating heavily in the social studies. The verge of adulthood provoked a drastic change in Gioacchino, who worked hard to raise his grades in science, chemistry, and math during the last years of high school. He graduated from Msgr. McClancy MEM High School in East Elmhurst, New York with honors in 1990, and decided to attend a technical school with the idea of getting a good government job. Finally his formal schooling ended in 1995 when he graduated from Polytechnic University with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in History of Science and Social Anthropology. There was an introspection period of three years after graduation for the author. He worked in the travel industry for a tour operator of one of the major airlines, while he continued to read and research various topics of interest and at the same time contemplate what he wanted to do with his life. Around this time he began his study of Tai Chi Chuan as well as continued attending a martial arts class at the Salvation Army in Astoria for a while. He decided to apply for a government job, and was hired by The U.S. Patent Office as a Patent Examiner. There he worked as a patent examiner in the laser technology field. After spending three, of what he says were wonderful years there, he got married to an Italian girl, and followed her and his heart back to Italy, to the native town of his parents, where he still lives today.
Other Books by the Author:
The Fox and the Hound: Unexpected Friends
Halloween is getting close, and this year the pumpkin growing contest is expected to be the best one in the history of King George County. The Stein family is hoping to win the contest again after many years. The competition is fierce, but the Stein family's pumpkin growing experiment is promising to produce the biggest pumpkin in the history of King George County. It is electronically monitored, and finely controlled and the weather station always keeps them one step ahead of the weather. The question is, will a lightning strike ruin the experiment, or is it just what was needed to make it work? In a re-visitation of the theme of Frankenstein, written for children, the author makes the reader consider whether it is right to judge someone solely on the basis of appearance. The reactions of the characters reveal much about human nature and how children and adults can see things differently. Will the nobility of heart of a strange but innocent creature be understood, or will hate and fear win out?