Candy Day

Candy Day - a short story by Robert Burton Robinson on TicklyTales.com

Is Halloween all about the candy? Or is it more about who you eat it with? (2,066 words)
~~~
Eddie’s plane landed at Houston Hobby Airport around 2:30 p.m. He picked up his rental car and drove straight to a candy store he’d located online while waiting in the Cleveland airport. It was Halloween, and the candy store was full of last minute shoppers. He stood in line for ten minutes. The young woman behind the counter looked tired.

“May I help you, sir?”

“You have Brach’s candy corn—correct?”

She smirked. “Yes, of course, we have candy corn. How many pounds do you want?”

“So, it’s definitely Brach’s candy corn? It’s got to be Brach’s.”

“Oh.” She seemed amused. “Let me check with my manager.” She walked away with no visible sense of urgency—despite the fact that there were a half dozen customers in line behind him.

A minute later, she returned. “Yes, we have Brach’s candy corn. It’s the only brand we carry, sir.”

“Good. I’d like 24.4 ounces.”

She went to the candy corn bin, scooped up a generous portion, carried it to the scale, and began to it pour in. When the scale registered twenty-four ounces, she stopped pouring, and began to walk back to the candy corn bin.

“Wait. I said twenty-four-POINT-FOUR ounces. I need another point-four ounces.”

She stopped and stared at him.

A frustrated voice behind him said, “Come on, man.”

“I’m not joking. I want exactly 24.4 ounces. No more, no less. That’s why I came here instead of Walmart, because 24.4 ounces of Brach’s candy corn is exactly 2,500 calories. So, would you please give me the other point-four ounces?”

An irritated customer behind him said, “Just give it to him. I don’t have all day.”

“Of course, sir. Whatever you like.” She walked back to the scale, added another point-four ounces of candy corn, and bagged up his order.

Eddie paid the cashier and walked out to his car. As he got in, his cell phone rang. It was a call from work. He had told them not to bother him for these three days off. Just three days! Was that asking too much?

He turned off his phone and put it in his backpack.

**********

Eddie pulled up in front of his brother’s house around four. He walked up to the door with his backpack over his shoulder and his bag of candy in hand, and rang the bell.

Eric’s wife, Julie, came to the door.

“Trick or treat!” Eddie said.

Julie laughed. “Eddie, it’s so good to see you.” She hugged him. “How was your flight?”

“I don’t like planes.”

“Well, come on in,” she said.

Eddie walked in and Julie closed the door.

Eric walked up. “So, the old man finally got here.”

“Careful,” Eddie said. “You’re gonna be joining me next year.” He hugged Eric.

“Just kidding. Fifty’s not old,” Eric said. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks,” Eddie said. “And thanks for the birthday card. It’s the dirtiest one yet. Where do you get those trashy things?”

Julie threw her hands up. “It’s not my fault. I always tell him to send you a nice one.”

Eric laughed. “Aw, he loves them.”

Eddie chuckled. “Yeah, I kinda do.”

“Why don’t you help him bring his luggage in, honey?” Julie asked.

“This is it,” Eddie said. “Just my backpack and, of course, my candy.” He held it up.

“Let me guess,” Eric said. “Twenty-five hundred calories’ worth of candy corn.”

“Exactly 24.4 ounces,” Eddie said. “Brach’s, of course.”

“Of course.” Eric turned to Julie. “It’s got to be Brach’s because they make it with honey, and it’s got that quintessential al dente quality. Right, Eddie?”

“Al dente?” Julie asked. “I thought that was only for spaghetti.”

“No, no,” Eddie said. “It can apply to any kind of food, and Brach’s candy corn has just the right firmness to it. It doesn’t break off when you bite it. No. Your teeth sink into it—in just a perfectly satisfying way. And, of course, it’s delicious.”

Julie smiled. “I’m sure it is.”

“I’ll double-check your candy on my scales,” Eric said. “Can’t have any cheating.”

“Fine, as long as we check your candy too,” Eddie said.

“No problem. I’ve got half M&Ms—.”

“8.8 ounces,” Eddie said.

“Right,” Eric said, “and half Brach’s jelly beans,” Eric said.

“12.2 ounces,” Eddie said. “You’re as predictable as me.”

“Y’all are nuts,” Julie said. “You stay on this crazy strict diet all year long and then on Halloween you gorge yourselves with candy.”

“Ha!” Eddie said. “You call this gorging? 2,500 calories?”

Eric said, “When we were kids, on Halloween night we’d wolf down—what—probably 10,000 calories each?”

“Oh, my gosh,” Julie said.

Eric went on. “We turned it into a competition. We’d starve ourselves all day long, and then that night we’d come home with our trick or treat candy and see who could eat the most. We’d literally eat ourselves into a coma.”

“Or, until we barfed,” Eddie said. “Then Mom would call Game Over.”

“Yeah, but one year we figured out that if we drank some Pepto-Bismol when we started to feel sick, we’d be good to go again after just a few minutes,” Eric said.

“That worked really well,” Eddie said, “until Mom caught us doing it.”

“Thank goodness y’all don’t eat like that anymore,” Julie said.

“We quit in high school,” Eric said. “We were getting fat because we had started eating like every day was Halloween. I’m talking Twinkies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and every type of candy. You name it. So, we decided that the only way to stop was to go cold turkey.”

“But we agreed to allow ourselves one day out of the year to splurge: Halloween Day,” Eddie said.

“Or as we used to call it, Candy Day,” Eric said. “So, it’s any kind of candy, 2,500 calories worth. We’ll enjoy our yearly candy tonight, and then at midnight, we’re done for another whole year,” Eric said.

“This is the first time we’ve been together on Halloween in ten years,” Eddie said. “But by the looks of us, I don’t think either one of us have been cheating.”

“You both look great,” Julie said. “Oh, I don’t know whether Eric told you, Eddie, but Dylan’s having a little party tonight with some of his friends,” Julie said.

“Here at the house?”

Eric said, “It’ll only be a couple of hours. They’re twelve-year-olds. Then we’ll head out back to the patio and enjoy our candy and watch a Clint Eastwood movie—your choice. We’ve got a new 80-inch flat-screen out there, man, and it’s amazing.”

“Sounds great,” Eddie said, “and I choose The Outlaw Jose Wales.”

Eric grinned. “Good choice.”

**********

Dylan’s party was over and his friends were leaving. Eddie went into the guest room to get a light jacket from his backpack. It was chilly outside, and he wanted to be comfortable on the patio. Before watching the movie, he was sure that he and Eric would take a few minutes reliving some great Halloween memories.

When they were kids, they hauled in more candy each year by constantly improving their trick or treat methodology. For example, they learned to hit only the wealthy neighborhoods and to quiz other kids on the street to find out which homes were giving out the best quality and quantity of candy so they didn’t waste time on the do-gooders and their apples and granola bars.

He walked out to the living room. Julie was there, picking up trash from the party.

“Where did everybody go?” he asked.

“The kids all left and Dylan went up to his room. Eric’s on the patio. He said for you to grab your candy and come on out.”

“Okay, great. Thanks.” Eddie went into the kitchen to get his bag of candy corn. He had left it next to the food scale on counter. It was gone.

He went back to the living room. “Julie, did you move my bag of candy corn? I left it on the kitchen counter.”

“No. Uh-oh. I hope one of the kids didn’t pick it up, thinking it was for the party.”

Eddie felt the blood draining from his body.

“Are you okay, Eddie?” Julie asked. “You look kinda pale.”

“I’m fine. He walked out.

He was not fine. He and his brother had made a pact. It was ironclad, and it had kept their weight under control for over thirty years. But it didn’t keep Eddie’s wife of fifteen years from walking out two months ago.

Eddie hadn’t been on an airplane in ten years. He hated the things. The sole purpose of this trip was so that he could spend this night—the most special night of the year—with his brother, eating their Halloween candy together, like the old days. The fun days when they were kids, before life got so complicated and messy.

He checked his watch. It was 10:45.

No candy corn.

The night was ruined.

Maybe he’d let himself fall off the wagon. What difference did it make to anybody? He was getting old. His wife had dumped him for a younger man. He deserved to treat himself. Maybe he’d just eat his troubles away.

His mouth began to water as he remembered what it was like to bite into a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. An Almond Joy bar. A handful of Skittles.

He ran out the front door, got into his rental car, and drove away.

**********

Eddie pulled up to the front of his brother’s house. His heart was racing and he was beginning to shiver. He checked his watch. It was nearly eleven-thirty. He dragged himself out of the car and trudged toward the front door.

Eric came out of the house and ran to him. “Eddie, where have you been?” He put his arm around him and helped him up the sidewalk. “Are you cold? You’re shaking.”

Eddie was hyperventilating. “I tried…but…I just…couldn’t…”

“What are you talking about?”

Julie ran out to help Eric get him into the house.

“I…blew…it.”

Eric and Julie walked Eddie to the living room couch, and he laid down.

Eric knelt beside him. “He’s shaking like crazy.”

“I’ll get some blankets,” she said.

“Where did you go?” Eric asked. “And why didn’t you answer your cell?”

“I-I didn’t…have it.”

Julie spread two blanket across his body.

“So, where were you?” Eric asked.

Eddie said, “Con-venience…stores…Walmart…I was…desperate.”

“You were trying to buy candy corn?” Eric asked.

“Was it because I told you one of the kids might have taken it?” Julie asked.

“I’m sorry, man,” Eric said, “this is my fault. I took your candy out to the patio and then I told Julie to tell you to bring it out yourself. I thought it would be funny to see you get all panicky about it.”

“Tha-that was mean.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Eric got up and walked across the room. When he came back, he said, “But now you can relax because here’s your candy.” He held up the bag. “This bag has not been opened. Every single candy corn is in here. All 24.4 ounces.”

Eddie’s shakes settled down. “But…it’s too late now. It’s almost…midnight.”

“What? No, it’s like ten-thirty. Look.” Eric took out his phone and showed him the time.

“But…”

Eric smirked. “You forgot to reset your watch, didn’t you? You’re not in Ohio anymore—you’re on Texas time.”

“And I didn’t have my phone with me, because I turned it off and put it in my backpack. The office kept calling.”

“But surely there’s a clock in the rental car.”

“I don’t know. I was too freaked out to even notice, I guess.”

“I haven’t seen you go into a full panic attack in years,” Eric said.

“Yeah. That’s what it was, I guess,” Eddie said. “I couldn’t find any Brach’s candy corn anywhere. Everybody was out—even Walmart.”

“But you’re okay now,” Eric said.

“Yeah.”

“You’ve got your candy corn, and we’ve got plenty of time,” Eric said.

Eddie sighed in relief as he reached out and took the bag. “So, Happy Candy Day?”

“Happy Candy Day, brother! Now, let’s get our butts out to the patio and wolf down some candy!”

Eddie sat up and smiled. “Alright!”

THE END

Copyright © 2017 Robert Burton Robinson

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