Halloween With Harley: A Ride With Harley Short Story 2

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Halloween With Harley

Ride With Harley Short Story 2

Cassandra Parker

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Copyright © Cassandra Parker 2018 All rights reserved.

The right of Cassandra Parker to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 First published by Cassandra Parker as a US E-book Edition.

Parker, Cassandra (2018-11-13). Halloween With Harley. Cassandra Parker.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this

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book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

Halloween With Harley is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental. All locations except known towns, cities, and those listed at the back of this book are fictitious.

Any errors are entirely made by the author.

Photos used under licensing through Most Photos.

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Acknowledgment

To my readers who asked for a romantic story about Harley and the gang. May love see each person through all the ups and downs of your personal journey.

Harley, my angel, this one’s for you wherever you might be in the heavens.

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Halloween With Harley

 

“Happy birthday, Mari!” Harley greeted me as he threw open the door to his home.
I entered the foyer to be overpowered by a WOSL disc jockey off-key rendition of Steppenwolf’s ‘Happy Birthday’ from their ‘At Your Birthday Party’ album. I stood paralyzed with overwhelming shock.
My closest friends popped up from behind chairs, tables, out of the cloak closet, and from doorways. They had the goofiest looks on their faces. Peg dressed like a clown. Hixson wore a gladiator outfit complete with a hatchet hanging from his side. Thomas was a leprechaun. March, the hippy of our group, looked even more so with his vibrant tie-dyed t-shirt of many colors. Judy and Lori dressed like Munchkins from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Flash was dressed like a mad hatter. Harley wore a high waist suit with ruffles down the front of the shirt and a matching top hat. He looked like a dandy from another century. Mike and Maryanne wore outfits making them look like Henry the Eight, and Queen Victoria respectively. For a minute I thought I was at a Halloween party.
“Surprise!” They yelled and tooted on paper horns. Everyone was wearing a children’s birthday party hat. They launched into another rendition of Steppenwolf’s ‘Happy Birthday’ song.
“Wow! Here I thought we were just doing a weekend get together,” I said as I looked into the living room to see it decorated in party favors. “I thought the Halloween party is tomorrow.”
“It is,” Harley hugged me and planted a kiss on my lips. “Happy Birthday, Mari.”
“And many more,” the others chorused.
“You guys, are too much,” I laughed.
Festive bows and streamers dangled from the ceiling and the drapes. A variety of pumpkins and ghouls for Halloween were scattered throughout the space. Plastic birthday tablecloths covered the floor. Stacks of paper plates, plastic utensils, and napkins. Gift-wrapped presents perched on the brickwork in front of the fireplace.
“We’re having a birthday picnic in the living room.” Harley clapped his hands.
“Dinner is rib eye steaks, salad, baked potato, corn on the cob, and rolls,” Peg confided. “Garrett has been marinating the steaks for two days.”
“And Flash made dessert,” March rubbed his stomach.
I stared at everyone. My friends were all acting like nine-year-old children full of glee and excitement. It was almost as though they had never celebrated a birthday before. “I’m flattered. Whose idea was this?”
Everyone turned and pointed at Harley. He grinned sheepishly. “I had to have some way to celebrate your birthday.”
“Come here, Mari,” Harley beckoned. “You get the seat of honor in front of the fireplace.”
Everyone grabbed a plate, flatware, and napkin before sitting on the tablecloth. Maryanne sat next to March with their backs against the couch. Hixson, Mike, Lori, and Judy took their respective places next to each other. Peg sat to my left and Harley to my right. Thomas sat next to Harley. That left two spaces, one for Flash and the other for Garrett.
The Steppenwolf album gave way to Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, followed in turn by Linda Ronstadt, Neil Sedaka, and Barry Manilow.
Flash entered the room carrying a platter of baked potatoes in one hand and a bowl of salad with the other. Garrett followed behind him with a plate of steaks and a pan of corn. Flash left the room and returned with a basket of rolls and butter.
“So, how long have you guys been planning this?” I asked as I savored a bite of steak.
It was so tender you could cut it with a fork. Each bite brought forth a burst of flavors. “Garrett, this is delicious.”
“Thank Flash,” Garrett replied as he buttered a roll. Every time we got together, Garrett ate a lot of rolls. Bread was one of his weaknesses. “It’s his marinate recipe. All I did was follow his directions and cook it.”
“Wow, Flash! You should be a chef!” I said. I took another bite and rolled the morsel around in my mouth much like a wine taster would do to determine the body of the wine being sampled.
“Thank you,” he demurred while forking loaded baked potato into his mouth.
Harley looked around the room at this motley gathering and sighed with pleasure. He was surrounded by good friends and good food. I knew he didn’t get this kind of camaraderie with his family and it felt good that we disc jockeys could provide that.
The music ended, and Maryanne went to the stereo to put on 45rpm versions of Nat King Cole’s ‘Unforgettable,’ Jim Nabors’ ‘Somewhere My Love,’ which in turn gave way to Etta James’ ‘At Last.’
“What?” she asked, “We need a little romantic music to celebrate with,” she said.
She added Janis Joplin’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee,’ ‘Summertime,’ and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain,’ to the turntable.
“So, what’s new with everyone?” Harley asked. “I’ve been a little out of pocket, so catch me up.” He stretched his legs out in front of him. He nudged me with his right hip. I returned the gentle bump.
“I’m thinking about doing my masters at Bowling Green University,” Mike announced. “Judy is thinking about going with me.”
Judy smiled shyly. “Yeah. We both graduate next spring and wanted to go to the same school for our masters.”
“You guys getting married, too?” Peg asked. “Man, I’m jealous. First, you and Mike get together, then Hixson and Lori, Harley and Mari, then March and Maryanne. Where have I been? Out playing in left field, I guess. I need to seriously get busy.”
“Nah… just planning to live together for a while first,” Judy giggled. “I thought you and Thomas were becoming an item.”
“She’s my backup. You know, if we’re both still single when we turn thirty, we’ll marry each other.”
“Really?” I asked. “You both have backup contingencies?”
“Yes,” Peg replied. “In the meantime, there’s no harm dating each other on occasion.”
“I got a scholarship to study culinary arts and one for broadcasting at The Ohio State University in Columbus,” Flash piped up. “I haven’t decided which I want the most. I’m trying to figure out if I can somehow manage to do both.”
“That’d be so cool,” Hixson said. “Flash the radio station engineer by day and chef of his own restaurant by night.”
“Congratulations,” Harley said and clapped Flash on the back. “Anyone want drink refills?”
“A Coke, for me, please,” I replied.
“I’ll take a Coke too,” said March.
“Got any Pepsi?” Lori asked, “If not, make mine a Coke.”
“Be right back,” Harley sauntered from the room. He returned minutes later with the drinks.
“I was offered a publishing contract with a book promotional tour,” I said quietly.
“Really?” Thomas asked, “I didn’t know you were into writing. I write poetry, myself.”
“I dabble,” I said.
“Which story, Mari?” Harley settled beside me. “Is it that swamp story?”
“Yeah.”
“Are you going to do it?” he asked, running his hand down my shoulders and back.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I’d like to talk with you about it later.”
“Mari,” he persisted, “This is a great opportunity for you.”
“It’s a two-year tour in the US and Europe. I don’t want to put college on hold. And I most definitely don’t want to put our wedding on hold for that long.”
“Okay, love, we’ll talk about it later.” He smiled.
March went to the turntable and put on KISS’s self-titled album, followed by Steppenwolf’s ‘The Second,’ Bob Seger’s ‘Seven,’ Gordon Lightfoot, and ‘Green River.’
“Time for presents!” Harley reached out and grabbed a gift. “This one’s from Hixson.”
It was wrapped in plain brown paper. I tore it open to find an album of Hungarian Gypsy Music. “Can we play this next?” I asked, looking at the cover.
“I remembered how much you seemed to enjoy it last spring,” Hixson said, his face aglow with delight.
“I love it, Hix. Thanks.”
“Open mine next,” Peg begged. “I made it myself.”
Harley handed me an elaborately wrapped package. It was a macramé of an owl using wood twigs for branches, cotton batting for the eyes, woven rope for the body, and Buckeyes for the eyes.
“It’s beautiful,” Harley said.
“It is,” I agreed.
Maryanne and March gave me a silver pen with a carrying case. “For when you get the urge to write the next great American novel,” she said.
Thomas handed me a tiny box. “It’s an American Indian arrowhead.”
“Cool.” I examined it carefully. “Obsidian?”
“Yes.” I remember how excited you were when we had to identify artifacts in our anthropology class. You said something about being interested in archaeology.”
Mike gave me the latest Stephen King novel. Lori and Judy each gave me Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Cold on the Shoulder,’ and Steppenwolf’s ‘7’ album.
“I want to hear ‘Foggy Mental Breakdown,” I said as I opened the album jacket. I cast a sly grin at Harley and added, “and ‘Ball Crusher,’ the taboo song.”
The guys chortled and slapped Harley on the back. He turned red and shot me a murderous glare.
“Why? What’s wrong with that song? It’s about flattening baseballs, right?”
“Oh, my dear, sweet, innocent Maryanne,” March chuckled and whispered in her ear.
“GASP!” Maryanne turned beet red. “There’s a song about men’s…men’s gonads?”
“Yup,” everyone laughed.
Garrett handed me a package. “For you Miss Mari, happy birthday.”
“Garrett, you didn’t need to get me anything. Thank you.”
I opened it carefully. Inside was the loveliest sweater I had ever seen. It was a dark green cashmere with my initials embroidered on the left side near the shoulder.
“Garrett!” I cried, “This is beautiful!” I put on the garment. It fit perfectly. “Thank you so much!”
“You’re welcome, Miss Mari,” he smiled.
Flash looked at me and grinned sheepishly. “My gift to you is dessert. I hope you like it.” He stood and left the room followed by Garrett.
“Thanks, Flash. I’m sure I’ll love it.”
Harley shyly handed me a small rectangular box. “For you.”
The wrapping was silver and gold. It was tied with an orange ribbon. Inside was a jewelry case. I slowly opened it. The box contained a simple silver chain bracelet with a pink heart. “It matches my necklace! It’s lovely, Harley. Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome, love,” he beamed with joy. He clasped the bracelet around my wrist.
Garrett came back carrying a tub of homemade ice cream and scoop. Flash returned with a four-tier cake. The icing was a chocolate vanilla swirl. Red roses decorated the top. Pink lettering said, “Happy birthday, Mari!” The candles formed a spiral with a single large one in the center.
Another round ‘Happy Birthday’ burst out with the gang singing even more off-key and out of tune than earlier. “Wish!” They shouted.
I closed my eyes, made my wish, and blew out the candles.
The cake and ice cream were heavenly. Flash could put all the frozen treat companies out of business with his concoctions.
“Flash,” I said, shoveling a mouthful of ice cream. “This is wonderful. Thank you so much.”
We sat around enjoying conversation and eating Flash’s dessert. “March,” Flash said, “want a rematch game of chess?”
“You’re on!”
“Mari,” Peg lifted an eyebrow at me. “How about the same for us and pinball?”
“Sure.”
“Gonna, get slaughtered,” Harley mumbled. “You a glutton for punishment, Peg? I’m telling you; Mari could be the pinball wizard from The Who album ‘Tommy.’ She’s won contests.”
“I’ve been practicing,” she replied.
We all went to the game room and began a long night of fun. Flash beat March at chess. I won the pinball games. That was followed by a game of Monopoly. Around two in the morning, we retired to our sleeping arrangements which had not changed since the spring.
Harley and I sat in front of the fireplace. Each of us was wrapped in a blanket and had a pillow.
“About that publishing contract,” he stated. “I think you should do it.” He removed his blanket and picked up a poker. He stirred the ashes and turned the log in the fireplace.
“Would you be able to go with me?” I asked him.
“No,” he shook his head sadly. “I have my business to consider. I’m training Edward to manage the company. He’s the veteran I hired last year.” He rewrapped the blanket around him and settled back down beside me.
“Two years is a long time,” I said as I thought about it. I rested my head on his shoulder.
“I’d miss you terribly. Mari, this could be the chance of a lifetime for you.”
“I don’t want to be separated that long. If it’s meant to be, there will come another chance.”
“Mari,” he began and looked at me.
“Harley,” I warned. “I want to be here with you. When we’re married, we can revisit that path if the opportunity comes around again. If it doesn’t, I won’t regret it. You are more important to me than any publishing contract.”
He leaned over and tenderly kissed me. “Okay, Mari. You win.”
“Thank you,” I sighed, returning his kisses.
“Get a room,” March’s voice rang out.
“Yeah, you two,” Thomas chimed in. “I have to leave in the morning. I need my sleep.”
“I thought they were asleep,” Harley whispered.
“So did I,” I chuckled softly.
An evening of companionship, food, presents, and games drew to a close with the love of my life beside me. Who could ask for more? Thus, ended the best birthday I had ever known.

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***

That morning we ate a fabulous breakfast provided by Flash, who had become our defacto chef for our get together. Afterward, we started decorating the house and grounds for Halloween. Harley had planned a party for the students and selected faculty in addition to preparing for trick or treating children.
Some neighborhoods in Lima had elected to celebrate Halloween on Saturday that year while others went on Sunday or Monday, the official date. Harley had invited the children, their friends, and parents in his neighborhood to join us.
The gates were covered in gossamer webbing to look like giant spider webs. The driveway was lined alternating hay bales with barrels holding a ghost or goblin.
“These bales are heavy,” March grunted as he swung one into place. Shirtless, his muscles rippled from his pectorals down to his abdominals and across his back. He winked and struck a saucy pose when he caught Maryanne looking. “Like what you see, babe?” He drawled in a lazy Midwestern accent.
She quickly resumed working on the spider webs. “Men!” She muttered to everyone’s amusement.
“You get along now, little lady, and leave us men folk to the heavy stuff,” Flash chided.
Pumpkins and witches lined the circular drive to the house. Lanterns lighted the road, casting eerie shadows upon the ground. The entrance was transformed into a haunted castle. Ghosts and goblins flew past overhead on razor thin wires. A sound system played spooky sound effects.
The foyer held huge black kettle pots with dry ice in a false bottom to create the illusion of smoke rising from potions. Inside the actual kettles were pots of popcorn balls, chocolates, soft drinks, juices, assorted fruits, and sweets. Tables lined the hallway filled with finger foods. The chandelier was replaced with a mirror ball that reflected light throughout the space.
The game room became an enchanted fairyland with gnomes, toadstools, and fairies intermingled with the games. The center of the room was set up for the old carnival game of bobbing with a tub full of water and apples floating in it.
The living room was left as a place for conversation. Halloween music pumped through the sound system, with The Who’s’ ‘Boris the Spider,’ Alice Cooper’s ‘Welcome to my Nightmare,’ Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ Black Sabbath’s ‘Megalomania,’ Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Evil Woman’ and ‘Strange Magic,’ Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch,’ and the classics ‘The Monster Mash’ and ‘Monsters’ Holiday’ by Bobby Boris Pickett.
A selection of VHS movies perched in a cauldron beside the television set. Included were ‘Black Christmas,’ ‘Carnival of Souls,’ ‘The Haunting’ by Robert Wise, ‘Shivers’ also called ‘They Came From Within.’
“What a great collection,” I said as I thumbed through them. “I didn’t know you liked horror flicks.”
“Sometimes,” he walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder. “They’re great to make fun of, except for ‘The Haunting.’ That one has some serious creepiness. Ever read the book by Shirley Jackson?”
“Have I? It’s one of my all times favorites.” I looked at the tape. “We have to watch this one tonight.”
“Just as long as the room doesn’t go waltzing with us trapped in it,” Harley laughed.
“That’d be fun. After everyone is gone we can all pile in here and have a horror movie feast,” Peg nodded her approval while rubbing her hands in anticipation.
“Hey,” Thomas greeted as he walked in. “Wow! You guys have done a fantastic job. Sorry, I couldn’t come back earlier. The family planned to do something and then changed it to Monday. So,” he grabbed a popcorn ball from a cauldron in the foyer, “here I am.” He bit into the treat.
With thirty minutes to spare before the first guests were to arrive, we rushed to change into costumes. Peg went as a witch; Maryanne dressed as a princess. I wore a red cloak with black lining similar to Little Red Riding Hood. Flash became a ghoul; March was a giant gnome, Garrett became Quasimodo, Thomas was a goblin, and Harley was the vampire count in a black cape. He carried a wooden walking stick with a silver wolf head.
The fog machine was pumping out a mist, covering the foyer floor, which added to the creepy ambiance of the entryway. The outdoor lights had been on mere minutes when the doorbell chimed. “Trick or treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat.” Kids greeted Harley as he slowly drew the door open accompanied by sound effects making the sounds of scraping wood, rattling chains, and moans.
“Come in,” he intoned in his best Transylvanian accent. He theatrically bowed low and pointed to a black kettle. “Treats are served.”
Parents followed the children. They craned their necks taking in the decor. “You went all out, Mister Davis,” one of them commented.
“Thank you. Refreshments are in the foyer. Please help yourselves. You can sit in the living room and eat if you wish. There’s games, dancing, and movies. Enjoy.”
The next to arrive were students from OSU-L and the technical college. Wilma, a nursing student I had become acquainted with, came dressed as a hippy.
“This is so cool,” she hugged me.
Soon the place was hopping with kids playing games and eating treats. Flash and Garrett were kept busy refilling the kettles and food trays.
“Pardon,” could be heard as they brought in new trays of goodies. “Coming through.”
March and Maryanne judged the apple bobbing and other games, doling out prizes.
“We have a winner!” March yelled.
“Pick a prize,” Maryanne indicated a table laden with goodies and toys.
Thomas and Peg took turns greeting trick or treating children.
Harley and I circulated the premises making sure everyone was having fun, and no one was neglected.
The hours passed quickly, and soon the party was over. Each of us pitched in and helped clean up. A table with food, drinks, and snacks was placed outside the living room. Everyone changed out of costumes into sleepwear. We grabbed blankets and settled down to watch ‘The Haunting.’ Only Flash and Garrett were missing, claiming they wanted to finish up in the kitchen.
Flash periodically popped in to refill our snacks and drinks, send clear away refuse. The movie is in black and white which lends itself quite well to terror driven atmospheric scenes. We had just reached the one where Eleanor and Theo are trapped inside while the doctor and Luke are chasing a dog creature outside.
Harley sat reclined on the rug with his arm around me. March had Maryanne gathered on his lap as she hid from the scary events playing out on the screen. Thomas and Peg huddled together under a blanket.
BOOM! The noise was so loud we literally jumped. BOOM! The walls shook.
“Where is it coming from?” Harley muted the television sound and raced to the window. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he turned back to the room.
The living room door slammed shut. We turned to stare in horror as the knob twisted with an audible click.
“No!” Thomas ran to the door. Grabbing the knob, he yanked it hard. “Locked.”
BOOM! BAM! The sound was coming nearer. The movie played on, forgotten as we lived our own version.
“Sounds like a cannon ball hitting the walls.” Peg said miserably.
WHAM! The door shook as something pounded it. WHAM! The vibration caused the door to shutter. Any minute now whatever was in the foyer was going to come crashing inside. “MAKE IT STOP!” Maryanne wailed.
The temperature in the room got progressively colder. I felt like I was sitting in a freezer with a bright fire that gave off no heat.
Harley picked up the telephone and rang the kitchen on the house intercom. He put it on speaker so we could all hear.
“Yes, Master Harley?” Garrett answered.
“What’s going on?” Harley demanded. He paced as far as the telephone cord would allow.
“I beg your pardon? I can barely hear you over the movie noises, Sir.”
“The sound is off, Garrett.”
The next pounding bounced right off the door. The entire frame shook. Then came the whispers and giggles.
“Garrett, I’m not amused,” Harley glanced at Peg.
She was huddled in Thomas’s arms and shaking from fear. Her lips had taken on a bluish tinge.
“Peg is scared out of her wits and might die from fright. Maryanne isn’t doing much better. Mari is rubbing her arms like she’s freezing. Plus, the dang door is locked.”
“Oh dear, that’s not good. We’ll be right there.”
Minutes later Garrett and Flash opened the door to be greeted by our shell-shocked faces. Flash held a sledgehammer by his side.
“Surprise?” he said weakly. “Garrett showed me where to hit and not cause any damage.”
“We used one of the sound effect tapes to create the noises and voices.” Garrett added sheepishly.
“I’m surprised at you, Garrett, “Harley muttered. “How’d you guys make the walls shake?”
“We didn’t. I kept looking in to check where you were with the movie. When the movie played that scene, we started the sound effects. Your imaginations made you see the walls shake. I only hit the door frame to add to it.” Flash grinned disarmingly at us.
“Okay, you two, you got us,” Harley chuckled. “Your idea, Flash?”
“Ahem,” Garrett cleared his throat. “It was my idea, Sir. I remembered you telling me about following Miss Mari and Miss Peg to the haunted castle. I thought you’d enjoy a trick being played on you.”
“Well, I didn’t. Awe, heck. Who am I fooling? I did enjoy it after my heart started back up.” Harley chuckled. “Okay, you guys really got us. Just remember, I pay back in kind,” he winked.
“Uh, oh,” I groaned. “You guys are in for it.”
Thus, our Halloween party ended with laughter. The following morning, we cleaned up the place, leaving the decorations outside for Halloween Monday in case Harley had trick or treating kids drop by.

***

Author’s Notes

Most of the music mentioned in this novel can be found online. Unless otherwise noted, the music can be purchased at:

Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com

Steppenwolf:
http://steppenwolf.com

Happy Birthday on Album/CD At Your Birthday Party

Carnival of Souls cult classic from 1962
The Haunting 1963 version directed by Robert Wise
Shivers also called They Came From Within 1975

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Cassandra Parker

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