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Grandpa’s Halloween Ghost

October 21, 2015


NOTE: On my Wordwalk blog, I only rarely post a piece of fiction. To celebrate the Halloween season, I share with you the following 1155-word vignette.



Grandpa’s Halloween Ghost


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



The Milwaukee airport was fogged in, so Gwendolyn’s flight was being diverted to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport–on Halloween of all days. Not just any Halloween, this Halloween was to be a command appearance by all children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, younger siblings, cousins, and other living relatives of 94-year-old inventor, entrepreneur, and architect G. W. LaPorte. How could Gwendolyn miss her grandfather’s annual Halloween extravaganza? Her grandfather was her boss and mentor; she was his chief spokesperson. For the evening’s special occasion, Gwendolyn had a bright orange ball gown with matching slippers awaiting her at her Easttown apartment; she wanted to be the favored granddaughter and have the first dance with her grandfather, who was still winning dance contests, senior swimming competitions, and his granddaughter’s heart. Having ridden many buses throughout her young life, she jumped at the chance to take a 90-minute bus ride from Chicago to Milwaukee.


With only a few minutes to spare, Gwendolyn breathlessly arrived at the Gold Room on the top story of Juneau Hotel. “Oh! Gwen, thank goodness, you arrived before the doors were closed. You know how your grandfather is about any late arrivals. Not even you–his favorite granddaughter–would have been allowed entrance after seven o’clock,” Gwendolyn’s mother whispered to her daughter who took her seat at the U-shaped table.


At the opening of the U-shaped table was a small table with a podium and microphone, as well as place settings for two. To the left of this smaller table was a five-piece band, including Gwendolyn’s father, his two brothers and two sisters, who were playing “Autumn Leaves,” one of their dad’s favorite tunes. In the opening midst the tables was the empty dance floor.


“What do you think Grampy has up his sleeve on this Halloween?” Grant, Gwen’s brother, asked.


“Since I have been in Boston all week, I have not a clue.”


The lights blinked on and off, the cymbals clashed, and all watched for Grandpa’s appearance. He danced into the ballroom and sang “Be Our Guest” (from Beauty and the Beast) until he tapped Gwendolyn on her shoulder. As the music continued, Grandpa, in a white tuxedo with a bright orange bowtie and vest, asked his granddaughter, “May I have this dance?”


Gwendolyn stood, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered, “Yes, Happy Halloween!” Both dancers smiled broadly and put on a fine show for the family gathering.


After a fanciful twirl at the end of the musical number, G. W. escorted his granddaughter back to her seat and patted Heather. As he made his way to the head table and podium, he thanked his band–his five children, all of whom were still wondering what surprise awaited the guests.


“to my beloved children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, my sisters, my brother, and all of my family and special guests–good evening and Happy Halloween!”


“Happy Halloween, Grandpa!” was the snappy reply.


“Thank you, and thank you all for being here on time for this special gathering. Would my assistants of the evening please pass out the gift-wrapped favors? When each of you has this special favor, I will ask you to open the gifts at the same time.”


One of the teen-aged cousins placed in front of Gwendolyn a gift wrapped in pumpkin paper and a black, gold, and white bow. Of course, the surprise had to be a book. After a drumroll, Grandfather announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, please open your gifts!”


The guests untied the fancy ribbons and ripped the paper to reveal the book. Gwendolyn’s gift was the only larger one because hers was two braille volumes. As usual, Grandpa had thought of everything. Within a few seconds, the entire crowd gave Grandpa a standing ovation and joyous applause. Stepping a foot away from the podium, G. W. bowed to his audience. “Thank you, thank you. Yes, I finally completed my book–my autobiography–except for the chapters I have yet to live.” When the laughter ceased, Grandpa continued, “Inside the front cover, you will find that I have already personally autographed the book to you. Chapter 25 will be a surprise to all of you, but you can read that later. Now, I would like you all to turn to the dedication page. ‘This book of my very blessed life of 94 years is dedicated to my entire family who have helped me to happily fill all the pages of this autobiography, and this book is also dedicated to my favorite ghost–ghost writer, that is–who helped me write all of these pages with the proper grammar and punctuation and who has agreed to be my bride on this Halloween of 2015.'”


The startled audience dropped to their chairs in disbelief. When the band did not immediately begin their next number at their father’s cue, G. W. commanded, “Music, please!” The five adult children somehow played “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” G. W. continued by donning his white top hat, “Dear family members, I present to you my precious ghost … ghost writer, that is–my dance partner and soon-to-be bride Geraldine will now appear.”


In a long-sleeved, white formal gown with gold and light orange accents, the ghost … writer Geraldine did appear. She glided into the room as only a former professional dancer and dance instructor could. The couple grasped hands; then, G. W. kissed her hand and embraced his bride-to-be. With one arm around her, G. W. lowered the microphone for Geraldine. “Welcome to our wedding! I do not know if your father will ever top this Halloween party! Your father, grandfather, brother, friend tells me he has the seven-year itch. He likes to say that I am 21–plus six decades–and that he is promising me at least seven wonderful years of marriage. We will have several more chapters to write together, and we are delighted that all of you have appeared to share in our Halloween wedding. In just a few minutes, my son, Judge Everett Karavellas, will be officiating. My grandson Evan will please come forward to be best man. G. W.’s granddaughter Gwendolyn will please step up to be my maid of honor–along with her yellow lab Heather who will be Leader Dog of honor. With the judge, a harpist entered the room to provide the wedding and reception dinner music.


After the exchanging of vows and rings, applause echoed in the large room while the attractive married couple moved gracefully to the dance floor. To the tune of “Autumn in New York,” G. W. and former New Yorker Geraldine danced the most memorable waltz of their lives. With a nod to Evan, Grandpa beckoned the best man and maid of honor to take the dance floor together. A couple of minutes later, Geraldine’s husband bellowed, “You have to dance for your supper! Everyone, please come join us on the dance floor–or my ghost will grab you!”



Happy Halloween!

Alice and Zoe


PAW-Script: On October 22, 1996, a yellow lab puppy was born in Michigan. This pup became my second Leader Dog on April 15, 1998, and was with me until her passing on July 1, 2010. Since October 22 is Heather’s date of birth, I had to include her in this vignette as yet another tribute to her more than ten years of service as my guide dog (before Zoe).


October 21, 2015, Wednesday



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  1. Alice, I love the surprises in this story. I hope you have a happy Halloween.

  2. What a delightfully clever story, Alice! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it as it brought back wonderful memories of Leader Dog Heather who shared so many of our family’s special events during her years with you.
    Love, Mary

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