Harry had just finished his evening meal and was in the right frame of mind for some quiet reading time, preferably in his favourite chair, with the footrest up, where he could relax and put the problems of the day behind him. In fact, it was entirely possible that he might even get comfortable enough for a little snooze. And with that thought in mind, he poured a little brandy into a glass and set it on a side table next to his chair. Settling into the familiar comfort of the worn old chair, book in hand, he sighed in anticipation.
“Bang!” Good heavens! Was that a gunshot?
As Harry snapped to attention there was a second bang, followed by the most awful screeching sound he had ever heard. He tensed, waiting to see if there would be a third bang, and was startled by a loud knocking on his front door instead.
Uh-oh. That likely meant trouble and the end of his quiet, restful night. He jumped to his feet and was at the door in several long strides. Throwing open the door, he opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again as his gaze travelled down. For a split second he stood there, bewildered.
“Trick or treat?” Half a dozen pairs of small hands were thrusting open bags towards him.
Just a bunch of neighbourhood kids in all sorts of costumes. Harry took a deep breath and shook his head, trying to focus. Open bags and colourful costumes… oh yes! Halloween treats… potato chips, chocolate bars… now where… okay, got it, he thought. “One minute,” he told the kids, reaching into the little porch closet. Quickly tearing open the grocery bags, he dropped the expected handouts into each waiting receptacle. As they turned to leave, with a chorus of ‘thank-yous,’ Harry smiled to himself. He had forgotten that tonight was Halloween.
That was it. Halloween! That explained the shots and the screams – nothing more than revellers and party-goers setting off firecrackers and letting off a little steam.
Realizing there was no possible chance of any quiet time for the next couple of hours, Harry switched on the television and turned to the history channel. Retrieving his brandy, he took a generous mouthful, placed the glass on the coffee table and sat down on the sofa. His late wife used to grumble about the rings on the polished surface but Harry didn’t polish as often as she had.
“Bang!” Momentarily startled, Harry’s hand jumped, and the brandy threatened to spill onto the table. Then another bang and another blood-curdling scream.
Somehow, to Harry’s trained ear and finely-honed senses, it didn’t quite sound like a firecracker. Maybe he should… no! He shook his head emphatically. He was off-duty and not on call. Let someone else deal with it, whatever it was.