The little monster was dressed as a clown. In loud, bold colours and with a red bulbous nose to top it all. He insisted the nose was real and when I tried to yank it off, he howled, so I let go.
Granny said monsters, of all kinds, were to be trusted under absolutely no account.
But the clown and his pumpkin looked so tiny and pathetically harmless, I dismissed her warnings and asked him what brought him to our neighbourhood.
He said he has come to offer his services.
What kind of services?, I asked.
He must have known somehow that I had little patience with children of any gender or size or age, for he offered to stand guard at our doorstep on Halloween and attend to the little imps that will make their customary call at our house that night yelling trick-or-treat.
I was only too happy to not have to repeatedly answer the door to the summons of pesky kids. But I also had good sense enough to ask him what kind of payment he sought for his proposed service. He coughed and cleared his throat and said that the only payment he sought was in kind; chocolates to feed his little pumpkin, he said, patting the orange fruit on its head. I agreed. The pumpkin's toothy smile widened and it bounced up and down in a hideous display of happiness.
Silly as it may sound, I made the necessary arrangements to ensure a steady supply of confectioneries for the pumpkin, and left the clown and his fruit pet to their own devices. I did not see them again until Halloween when they reappeared at our doorstep.
The instant she saw them, Granny huffed and said monsters, of all kinds, were to be trusted under absolutely no account. I told her that this year we will not be troubled by demanding little imps knocking at our doors in the dead of the night. Even that did not assuage her. She only shook her head and said monsters, of all ... I tuned her out and returned to my chair by the window where I sat knitting.
When the first of the children came to our house, the clown caught their attention before they could reach for the door. He spoke in animated gestures but I could not hear what was being said. Perhaps in response to what the clown said, the children then stuck their tiny hands into the pumpkin's mouth - presumably to grab their treats - when the pumpkin opened its mouth wide, as swiftly as ink blotting on paper, and in one sudden gulp swallowed the kids. The little children, there now, gone forever.
The following morning, I found the pumpkin had ensconced itself in our backyard. Whole and ripe, ready to be cut and cooked. No toothless grin. No hollow eyes. Just a harmless fruit. The clown was nowhere to be seen. Granny said monsters, of all kinds, were to be trusted under absolutely no account, and bade me destroy the fruit.
I tried hacking it to pieces, kicking it out, and even setting fire to my backyard. When nothing worked, the clown's voice piped up out of nowhere, offering me his services. Granny's words rang in my ears - monsters, of all kinds, are to be trusted under absolutely no account. But this time, I truly have no choice.