"There. Isn't that better, sweetie? That fits you a lot better. The other one was a bit off in several ways, and this one . . . well, yes, you look a lot better in this one."
Janice was giving Ward a much-admiring look from head to toe.
"Uh. Yes, I do like the Batman suit a lot better than the clown costume. But won't Peter be upset? I mean . . . a clown costume," Ward said.
"Oh, Peter will never know it was meant for him if you don't tell him. He's a bit smaller than you, so the clown suit will be closer to his fit."
"It will still be short in the legs and droopy in the belly for him, though," Ward responded as he admired himself in the mirror. Yes, he had quite good musculature on his own, but the strategically added padding in this Batman suit gave him truly superhero proportions. He'd been particularly amused by the added padding in the crotch.
"Well, Peter's your husband. If he asks I'll just say you picked out the costumes."
"Leslie picked out the costumes, Ward. If she'd meant you to have the clown costume, she should have known the measurements better. She's your wife."
Janice knew exactly why Leslie had picked out the costumes she had, though. And Janice was willing to bet that there had been no mix-up with the measurements either. Leslie wanted to humiliate her husband, Ward. She'd been doing it in small ways for some time. And there had seemed to be little rhyme or reason to it. Ward was a hunk, and a real catch as a husband and father. But Janice just this afternoon had come to realize that her supposed best friend's motives and schemes went beyond making fun of and diminishing her husband.
They had both been in Leslie's kitchen earlier that afternoon, putting together their treats supplies for handing out later in the evening before they went off to their own costume party. Janice had gone with Leslie to pick up their costumes before that, and the differences between what Leslie had picked out for Ward and Peter had struck Janice even then as odd.
But then that afternoon Janice had seen Leslie in her dining room writing a note on a slip of paper. The doorbell rang, and while Leslie went off to answer that, Janice slipped into the dining room and read the note. It surprised and confused her, but later, as she worked it over in her mind, she thought she'd gotten the drift of what it meant.
When Leslie came back, Janice watched her slit the wrapper of a Snickers bar and slip the note inside and come back into the kitchen and open a cupboard, place the Snickers bar inside, close the cupboard, and come back to where Janice was working. The innocent expression on her face incensed Janice and at that moment she decided what she was going to do about it.
It was seeing the Snickers bar being brought into play with the note that had begun to clue Janice in on what was happening. That's when she volunteered to help the men with getting their costumes on and adjusted.
"But now that I've got you sorted out," Janice was continuing in the bedroom with Ward, "I'll have to go home and relieve Peter in case there are some earlier trick-or-treaters. He'll bring the kiddies over here to wait while he changes, and then you two men can take our combined broods around for their candy fix before you, Leslie, Peter, and I slip off to the costume party."
"Umm, thanks for the help with the costumes, Janice. And I won't say anything to Peter about the costume switch."
"No problem, sweetie. See you later. Time for me to become a nurse."
Ward watched Leslie exit the room, his eyes going to the swing of her hips. He had been embarrassed when she was in the room while he was changing. He was afraid that she'd see the effect she had on him—the effect she had on most of the men in the neighborhood. But if she'd noticed, she certainly hadn't said anything. That was Janice all over: inscrutable and unattainable, but oh so luscious.
* * * *
Peter and Ward soon were taking their boys house to house in the neighborhood for trick-or-treating, while their wives held down the fort for candy distribution.
At 8:30, when the candy parade was set to end by county ordinance, the babysitters would arrive, and at 9:00 the two couples would be off to the country club for the adults' costume party. But at 10:30, Ward was scheduled to be off to the high school to help chaperone the late shift of the Halloween party there and Peter was going to go downtown to the gift store he owned and clear out the Halloween decorations and set up the ones for Thanksgiving.
Peter, Ward, and their boys had been half way round the neighborhood before coming back to their own block. Leslie, dressed as a Bavarian milk maid and greeting all of the trick-or-treaters in a badly faked German accent, seemed particularly pleased to see Batman and the clown and the boys, She struck a provocative pose and smiled broadly as the trick-or-treaters approached. Ward and Peter were slightly dragging now, but the four young boys were still revved up, hopping up and down in sugar-induced glee and laughing and arguing with each other in shrill voices.
"Ach du lieber, meine Shatz," Leslie growled in a low, guttural voice as she peered into the murkiness of the low light on her front porch. "Meine superhero and Bubbles the Clown. Gretel has something special for all of you, ja she does. Reese's cups for the Liebchens, a Butterfingers bar for Bubbles"—upon which Leslie giggled—"and . . . especially for you, my superhero Batmensch, a very, very, special Snickers bar. You must promise me to eat it first."
As she handed the candy out, she gave a particularly warm smile to Batman and held his hand with hers, taking a bit longer time with him than with the others.
The candy bars were nice, Ward thought, but not much nicer than they were getting at the other houses. In fact, everyone seemed to be giving out Reese's cups and Snickers, Butterfingers, and Milky Way bars this year. He'd suggested to Leslie that they do something more special, but apparently his wife hadn't gotten the hint. She hadn't listened to much of anything he said for some time now.
This candy theme held out for the rest of the block—a plethora of Butterfingers, Reese's cups, and Snickers and Milky Way bars. And what else was happening at most every stop was the flirty attention Batman got from women who answered their doors in contrast to the dismissal of the clown in the costume that was both too tight and too baggy. Ward was really glad that he'd switched costumes.
The next-to-the-last stop was at Peter and Janice's house, where Peter and his boys just lurched into the house past Janice at the door and headed for the living room couches. Their boys were already lost in jabbering about the candy haul they had snarfed up.
"And a nice big Snickers bar for you, sweetie—sweets for the sweetie," Janice said with a big smile, as she plopped a Snickers bar into Batman's bag.
If Ward wasn't mistaken, Janice had blown him a kiss as he and his boys struggled back down the driveway. Ward thought Janice really looked like something in that nurse's costume. Sure would like to play doctor with her, he thought.
But then he was struggling to catch up with his little boys. "Hold on there, Little Ward and Wayne. One last house. It's nearly the bewitching hour and Daddie's pooped. Back home then and we put the candy up to sort out and ration tomorrow."
"Ah, Dad," Wayne whined. "You promised we could have one each before we got home."
They'd reached the neighborhood park, and there wasn't anything that Ward wanted to do more than sit down right at that moment.
"OK, boys. Over there on that bench. We'll sit and each have just one. Then it's home and get ready for bed."
The boys agonized over the "just one" rule long enough for Ward to agree to two each—if they promised not to tell their mother. They were absorbed in their selection as if they were picking out a new car, and Ward absentmindedly stuck his hand into his own bag. He hadn't put his bag out at each house for a treat, but most of the houses he stopped at insisted that he take something too for being a good sport and dressing out and taking his boys out.
What Ward came up with was a Snickers bar, one of many he'd gotten that night. He was unwrapping it when a note fell out. He picked the note up off the walkway, turned his flashlight on, and read what it said.
"Must have you tonight, sweetie. My back porch after the party. Bring condoms."
Ward nearly tripped over his cape and fell off the park bench in surprise and twitterpation. He took a quick look at his boys, but they were still engrossed in their second candy bar pick—and telling each other how much better their first pick had been than the other boy's.
Ward wasn't a dummy. He knew that Leslie ordered him a clown suit to disparage him. Her snotty indifference to him for months hadn't been lost on him. He'd seen a divorce coming for some time. He also had had wet dreams about some of the other women in the neighborhood. One of these women had slipped him this note. One of the women in the neighborhood wanted him. And Leslie didn't seem to want him.
Which one was it? Someone who gave him a Snickers bar. He'd gotten Snickers bars at lots of houses. He wasn't particularly fond of Snickers bars; this was really Peter's favorite candy. The families actually had a running joking going about Peter's passion for Snickers bars. Ward reached down in the bag and sorted through the candy. Nine Snickers bars. Where had he gotten those? The note had been inside a Snickers bar.
Hazel Channing had been handing out Snickers. But she was a sixty-year-old battle-ax. Ward had never seen her break so much as a smile at a man, any man—and tonight hadn't been any different. No, it couldn't be Hazel. So, one down. Eight other possibilities.
There was his own wife, Leslie, of course. She's really made a big deal of giving him a Snickers bar, which was just like Leslie, since she knew he preferred a lot of other kinds of candy over a Snickers bar. She was just sticking it to him again. He'd gotten that. But he could discount that possibility that she had slipped him this note as much as he had Hazel Channing.
So, seven. Think, Ward.
He looked at the note again. What jumped out now—"condom" being what had jumped out the first time, of course—was the word "sweetie." He'd heard that somewhere recently. And not just once.
"Shazam!" He actually yelled that word and the boys looked up, startled. But they thought he was just playing Batman, and it was probably the Batman costume that had made him pick that word. It wasn't actually a word he usually used. Just like "sweetie" wasn't a word that Janice had used around him in his memory—at least until today.
But today Janice had called him "sweetie" several times. She'd first done it a couple of times in his bedroom when she was adjusting his costume and then again at her front door tonight, when she had given him . . . a Snickers bar.
"Come on, guys," he said, jumping up from the park bench, lost in excitement. "Let's get home and get the rest of this evening moving."
* * * *
Ward felt superhuman as he crouched over Janice in the glider on her back porch nearly at midnight that night and listened appreciatively to her groan with each thrust of his cock and her moan as he pulled back, ready to push in even further with the next one. Leslie hadn't responded like this in years. But Janice melted to him. Her body was luscious, yielding, obviously wanting him just as the note had said. He felt like king of the mountain, spurred on by passion and want so succinctly expressed in that note in the Snickers bar. He had no idea that Janice had wanted him as much as he had wanted her.
He had a slight twinge of guilt that he had duped Peter into taking his shift at the high school party. Peter was always so willing and gullible, the dope. But Ward had never particularly liked Peter, and it was perfect knowing that Peter couldn't be back home until after 1:00 a.m. when the party at the high school officially ended.
For her part, Janice was in seventh heaven, having found Ward every bit as superhuman in endowment and staying power as a superhero. She was flying even higher in contemplating what Peter, the two-timing dope, was missing—despite what he'd probably been doing while cheating on her for months—and how confused and disappointed—and unsatisfied—Leslie must feel sitting on her back porch and waiting for what would never arrive.