• Contributing Author

Five Little Pumpkins

“Kids, if you’re going Trick or Treating tonight, your rooms need to be picked up before you go. I suggest you get your butts home right after school today and start. Trick or Treat is from six to eight.” Mrs. Campbell announced to her three children.

“Yah, OK, whatever, will do, roger that, Okay Dokey” were some of the responses she heard.

“Hey Mom, you didn’t put our pumpkin display up yet.” Darrin, the twelve year old, and oldest stated.

“I will as soon as you guys take off. I had to wait for your father to finish his pumpkin last night.”

“Did Dad make a scary one?” Tommy, the six year old asked.

“Boy did he ever! I think it’s better than last year. “Come look at the line up. I have them all in the utility room.”

The three boys followed their mom to check out their artistic abilities. The middle boy, Justin was the first to run into the laundry room.

“Wow! They look great!. Look at Dad’s. It is better than last year.”

“I think we all did a good job. I’ll get them all set up. Now grab your lunches and go. I hear the bus. Have a good day.”

“Bye mom, love you.” The boys said in unison.

Joyce quickly went to work after the kids left. She unpacked and dragged the picket fence into the front yard, where they put it up every year. The ground was very hard though, making it difficult for her to hammer the fence in place.

“Hi Joyce! Having a problem?”

“Oh Mr. Dittlemire, hello. Yes, I’m having trouble putting our fence up.”

“I’ve got it Joyce.”

Within minutes it was up and sturdy.

Mr Dittlemire was the Campbells’ next door neighbor. He was a very sweet, gentle man in his late seventies, who lived in terror of his vengeful wife of fifteen years, Martha Dittlemire.

John Dittlemire was married to his first wife right out of high school. They were married for forty enjoyable years until her death twenty years ago. After a few years of being lonely, and wanting companionship, he married Martha, ironically meeting her at a church function. It wasn’t always bad. In the beginning, life with Martha was pleasant. She slowly began to turn. She’s confrontational with everyone she sees. No one in the small town of Dexter wants anything to do with her. She is just plain mean. Unfortunately, she takes most of her frustrations out on John, running him outside, where you usually see him, either gardening or sitting on his front porch. You can usually hear her yelling at him for one thing or another.

“Thanks Mr. Dittlemire. I wouldn’t have been able to put our pumpkins up without your help.”

“I sure love your display every year Joyce.”

“John! What the hell are you doing over there? You know I could use some help!” Martha yelled from the front porch.

Joyce could tell John was embarrassed being talked to that way. He turned to leave.

“Thanks again “ Joyce yelled to him.

“Happy to do it Joyce,” he responded.

“Hello Mrs. Dittlemire” Joyce yelled over, just trying to be neighborly.

“Make sure your kids stay away from by mums when they come begging for candy tonight. I don’t know why John even gives candy out to all these miserable heathens.”

“Martha, please!” John yelled out, totally humiliated. “I enjoy seeing the children come around.”

“Well, you make sure you stay out here in the cold. I don’t want anything to do with it.” Martha yelled out as she went back into the house.

John walked around the house to the back.

Joyce felt badly for John. He didn’t deserve this.

As she placed the fifth pumpkin on the fence, she started to sing the song that inspired the pumpkin fence.

“Five little pumpkins sitting on the gate, the first one said.”Oh my its getting late.”

“Well that looks good” Joyce said out loud as she admired her work.

While walking back to the house, Joyce heard Mrs Dittlemire yelling about the neighborhood kids again, which probably included her kids as well. None of the kids in town went anywhere near her, as she scared most of them, especially the younger ones. Last Halloween, half of the kids wore Mrs Dittlemire costumes.

Joyce went in and started thinking about a quick dinner she could make. The kids will be too excited to eat much of anything. Husband Tony will be home early tonight. He really got into the Halloween thing as well, and will be taking the kids around tonight, as Joyce handed out treats.

“Mom, we’re home!” the kids screamed out.

It sounded like a semi was coming through the living room when they got home from school. They were pushing, shoving, laughing, and deposited their bookbags wherever they wanted to.

“Yes, I hear you. Grab a piece of fruit, and get up here and straighten up your rooms. Dad will be bringing pizza home for dinner.”

As the five of them were eating their pizza, and a salad Joyce put together, they were planning the route that they would take for trick or treating.

“Should we start at the Dittlemire’s house and go around that way, or start the opposite way, and end up at the Dittlemire’s?” Darrin asked.

“Lets try it different this year and end up at the Dittlemires.” Tony Campbell concluded.

“Unless Mrs Dittlemire makes him come in early.” Joyce said facetiously. They all laughed.

“John Dittlemire, you look absolutely ridiculous in that costume! Martha was yelling to her husband “And that knife…is that real? What the hell is wrong with you? You’ll trip and cut your head off!”

Mrs Dittlemire was following him around the yard, but finally went in the house.

“No, I won’t cut my head off.” John responded as he followed her into the house.

“That poor man.” Tony said sadly.

“Tell me about it.” Joyce responded. “She’s been ragging on him all day.”

“OK, are we ready to go? Get your costumes on.”

“Ðo the kids know you’re wearing a costume too?” Joyce inquired.

“No, I thought I’d surprise them. I rented an old fashioned keystone cop outfit”

“Oh Good, maybe the neighborhood kids will think you are a real cop, and not cover the Dittlemire trees with toilet paper!”

“If that’s the worse they do, I won’t be too concerned.” Tony said, half kidding.

“Nice costume Dad!” Darrin said laughing.

His brothers joined in, as they paraded out of the house.

Joyce placed the large caldron filled with candy on the front porch, and pulled a chair next to it to wait for trick or treaters. She always enjoyed seeing all the cute costumes, especially on the little kids. Some of them were so ingenious, making her wish she had some of the imagination it took to make them.

The time went by so quickly. And the turnout was bigger than last year. She saw her boys were just approaching the Dittlemire’s house as their last stop, and she started to walk over to meet them. As she passed her pumpkin gate, she started to sing…

”Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, the first one said Oh my its getting late. The second one said…she stopped singing. There were what appeared to be six pumpkins now on the gate. ….No, what is that? It is orange colored, but, “Oh my God!”

“Hello Mr Dittlemire” Tony was saying at the same time.

“ Where’s Mrs. Dittlemire tonight?” just trying to be neighborly.

“Why she’s sitting right there in the rocker.”

The boys looked at the rocker the same time Joyce let out a scream. Headless Mrs Dittlemire was in the rocker on the porch! Blood splatters were on her clothes, and on the large knife Mr. Dittlemire was holding in his hands .

Mr. Dittlemire looked at Tony, and his keystone cop costume

”Well I guess you’ll be wanting to take me in now officer.”

Joyce was walking slowly towards her family, with her phone in hand. She was trembling, as she directed her children away from Mr. Dittlemire.

“Óh Hi Joyce. I hope you don’t mind me adding another pumpkin to the gate. I just love Halloween. Now, Mrs Dittlemire, she dosen’t care much for it. She dosen’t care much for anything.

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