The Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownbyTrue North©
Getting out of his truck in the parking lot, Charlie gazed up at the sky. Grey, gloomy, a light snow was knocking the coloured leaves out of the trees.
Charlie sighed. Fall. A warm fall was fine, the kind they called an Indian summer, but the problem with fall was that it meant winter was approaching, and Charlie wasn't much of a fan of winter.
Then again, he wasn't a fan of October either. For pretty much his whole life, people had made fun of his name in October. Nobody cared that Charlie Brown was an old family name, that he was named after a popular uncle. No, right back to early days in school it was, 'Hey Charlie Brown, did you get coal for Halloween?' Or, 'Hey Charlie Brown, we were going to invite you a party, but figured you'd be out in the pumpkin patch.' Or, 'Hey Charlie Brown, are you and Linus spending the night in the patch?' The latter always with a wink wink, nudge nudge familiarity.
Needless to say, Charlie Brown wasn't a fan of Halloween; hadn't really taken part in festivities since he was a young kid. And this year, despite a new job as an editor with a publishing house and being just four months in, it had started again.
Again, hilarious. A copy of the Charles M. Schultz book appeared on his desk one day, a cupcake with pumpkin frosting and a Jack O' Lantern face on it another. Someone had sent him an anonymous porn link of people fucking in Halloween costumes, someone else dumped a bag of Halloween candy kisses in his desk drawer.
Charlie sighed again as he walked to his office, waved hello to the receptionist, Dianne, who seemed to be stifling a chuckle. He hung his coat on a hook, walked back down the hall to the coffee machine and poured a black one.
Walking back to his office, past Dianne, he noticed she was about to say something. "Can you please just make it Charlie, Dianne? No need to say my entire name."
"Sure, Charlie. I was just going to say a package was delivered for you a while ago." She reached down to the floor beside her, Charlie got a glance of some nice cleavage, then she handed him a shoebox-sized package from a courier company. "Here you go, Charlie."
"Thanks," he took the package, then carried it and his coffee back to his office. He put the package on his desk and looked at it as he sipped. No doubt, he thought, it's another Halloween gag. Well, at least it was Friday.
The day passed quickly. He had a ton of work and at lunchtime, he carried the package to his truck, then drove to McSweeney's for pub grub and a pint. After taking a long lunch, he jumped back in his truck to head for the office again. The package on the seat beside him, though, caught his attention and he decided to open it.
In the parking lot again, he cut through some tape with a penknife, opened the box and fished through a bunch of packing material to find a single envelope inside. He pulled it out and looked at it... no writing, no return address, just To Charlie Brown written neatly on the front.
Charlie slit the envelope open and pulled out the note inside. He unfolded it and found it to be an invitation, very brief. Charlie Brown, it read, you are invited to the Pumpkin Patch Masquerade Ball at Blackstone House, Halloween Night, 8 p.m. It was signed, The Little Redheaded Girl.
What the hell, he thought, it figured, another Halloween prank; but it looked kind of official. And Blackstone House, downtown, was a pretty upscale and high end location. He gazed at the invitation and realized there was a faint aroma of pumpkin on it. What the? he thought. How would someone manage to do that? More importantly, he wondered, who was the Little Redheaded Girl? He didn't know any readheads.
Back at his office, Charlie decided to call the Blackstone and see if the invite was legit. Someone at the desk assured him the masquerade ball was taking place on Halloween, but had no idea who might have sent him the invitation.
In the back of his mind, Charlie wondered if the invite was one of those 'invite a nerd' or 'invite a loser' and win something pranks... where he was being invited just because of his name and where the whole thing could go pear-shaped when he arrived.
At any rate, he finished his Friday work, headed home, cracked a beer and watched a hockey game. Still, though, he couldn't help but wonder about the invitation. Whether it was legit or not.
By morning, having gone over it all in his mind over night, he'd decided. He'd suck it up and go to the Pumpkin Patch Costume Ball. Maybe this Little Redheaded Girl would be there. It could be a drag, stupid, or, he supposed, it could be a decent party and he hadn't been to one for a while. It's on, Redheaded Girl, whoever you might be, it's on.
Being Saturday, and with the ball the next evening, Charlie hit a few stores, trying to decide what he might wear to the ball. Then it struck him, if someone was trying to play him for a sucker, he might as well go all out and go as Charlie Brown from the book/comics/cartoons.
Charlie spent the morning hitting a couple of stores, buying brown shoes, yellow socks, a pair of black shorts and a large yellow collared t-shirt, even a Lone Ranger-style mask to cover his eyes. He couldn't track down a Charlie Brown-like yellow shirt with the black zig zaggy line around it, so he picked up some permanent markers to draw it on himself.
Back at home, he discovered how difficult it was to draw straight lines on a shirt with markers. After a trip back to the store for another shirt, he spent a couple of hours very, very carefully drawing the black zig zags on a new shirt.
Really, the key to the costume was the shirt, so he tried to make it as perfect as he could. He even watched an episode of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, to try and mimic Charlie's walk.
Putting on his costume, such as it was, he looked at himself a mirror. Not bad, he thought, not bad. Baggy shirt, shorts to his knees, shoes and socks. But something was missing. Then he realized what it was. In the books, TV shows, etc., Charlie was bald. Hmm... buy a bald wig thing? Shave his own hair off? Well, he thought, all in it was.
In the bathroom, Charlie pulled out a hair trimming kit. He looked at himself in the mirror, then started clipping his hair off. He worked slowly, switching to shorter trim levels, until, like Peanuts' Charlie Brown... he was bald. Wow, he thought, first time since a baby. He ran a hand over his now-smooth head. What the hell, he thought, if this party is a bust and people at work ask why I did it, I'll say it was for a cancer fundraiser.
Looking in the mirror again, he thought his head looked a little too white, but it would do. Now he looked more like Charlie Brown of the cartoon shows.
On the day of Halloween, Charlie watched football on TV, drank some beer, ate a couple of meals and couldn't help but wonder how going to the Masquerade Ball would end up. He knew he'd feel dopey arriving as Charlie Brown, although, he thought, nobody would actually recognize him, with the mask and his newly-shaved head. If the whole thing was stupid, he figured, he could duck out and nobody would be the wiser.
At 7 p.m., Charlie changed into his cartoon-type costume, picked up his invitation and headed out. Stepping into cold Oct. 31 air, he thought, shit, my head is freezing. Who'd want to be bald on purpose? But he jumped in his truck, drove downtown and parked in the underground parkade at Blackstone House. Stepping into an elevator, he read a poster that proclaimed the Masquerade Ball was to be held in the Grand Ballroom on the seventh floor. Charlie pressed 7, slipped on his mask and was swept upward to who knew what?
As he stepped out of the elevator on the seventh floor, Charlie was greeted by a loud band playing and hundreds of people mingling about in all manner of costume. A very busty server in a Playboy bunny costume offered to take his coat and gave him a check number while another server dressed as Elmer Fudd offered him a tray of champagne. Taking a glass, Charlie walked into the Grand Ballroom. Looking around, he could see why it was so named. The ballroom was a huge hall, disco balls were spinning high above, the floor was tiled in black and white and everywhere there were ornate window coverings, furniture, tables laid with canapés and dozens of chafing dishes were strategically placed around the room.
Charlie found a spot with a good view of the band and, seeing that the Masquerade Ball seemed legit, threw back the champagne, took another off a tray being offered by an attractive witch and filled a small plate with some food samplers. Looking around, he saw that costumes ranged from Dick Tracy to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (he was glad others had gone with a TV scheme), to a knockout he figured was Scarlett O'Hara, accompanied by an older Colonel Saunders looking guy who was likely supposed to be Rhett Butler.
As he looked around, mostly for a Little Redheaded Girl, he saw costumes representing Star Wars and Star Trek, superheroes like Batman and Wonder Woman, and all manner of witches, robots, Draculas and fantasy characters. As he wandered about, he moved in and out of dances with another Playboy bunny, a girl in a referee outfit who rubbed playfully against him and a Lily Munster with deep, deep cleavage who gave his crotch a squeeze when she wandered off and into the crowd.
With another champagne in hand, Charlie found himself crushed into a doorway next to a stack of speakers, just off-stage from the band. As the band switched to a rock music set, Charlie drank his third, or fourth? champagne and just took it all in. The ballroom was warm and his nostrils caught the scent of many perfumes emanating from warm bodies. Some costumes were minimalistic, others extravagant. Everywhere he looked, people he didn't, couldn't, recognize were drinking, eating, dancing and talking.
He thought he heard glass break from behind the speakers and when he bent to look behind them, he saw an Indiana Jones and a nurse passionately kissing. Looking up at the side of the stage, he saw that the bass player was also watching the pair as he played. Tongues deep in each others' mouths, as Charlie watched, Indiana popped open some buttons on the nurse's uniform and reached inside to cop a feel. That's going well, he thought.
Charlie watched as the nurse reached down to Indiana's crotch and began to rub him through his pants. As he leaned a little further to watch, someone bumped into him and almost sent him into the speakers. Angry, he turned to tell whoever it was off, only to be confronted by the biggest pumpkin, or Jack O' Lantern, he'd ever seen. And the head sticking out of the pumpkin was wearing a wig of a brilliant red like he'd never seen before. The long red hair framed a pretty face that was highlighted by a dark green mask over her eyes. Looking down, Charlie noted bright orange, very high heels, and shapely legs in green nylons.
He stepped back... he had to, as the pumpkin, with stylized fierce Jack O' Lantern face on the front, had to be three feet in diameter and there was barely room enough for the two of them in the doorway. The pumpkin's arms stuck out through the sides and had a flute of champagne in each. She offered Charlie one. He took it and smiled.
"Good grief, Charlie Brown" she shouted, with a laugh, "I'd have thought you, of all, people, would recognize The Great Pumpkin when you saw her." Yelling above the music, he noted a pleasant aroma of booze and pumpkin pie.
He leaned toward the Great Pumpkin... looking closely at her. "I'm sorry," he shouted back. "Do I know you?"
"You've been waiting in a pumpkin patch for years and years, waiting for me, Charlie Brown," she yelled back. She moved closer, leaning toward him, her pumpkin costume pressing against him. "I hardly recognized you... bald..." she laughed. "It looks good on you." She leaned back to finish her champagne and teetered a bit on her heels, then fell into him slightly. She looked up at him, "sorry, I don't wear these often."
Having caught the pumpkin, it filled his arms and she rested against him momentarily, leaving him with the odd sensation of hugging someone huge, but someone he couldn't feel. "Are you drunk?"
She looked up at him and shouted. "No. Tipsy, maybe, but not drunk. Are you?"
He looked down at her. He was sure he didn't know her, but clearly this was the Little Redheaded Girl who sent the invitation. "No, I'm not either."
"Have another drink then, Charlie Brown, we can get drunk together."
"You sent me the invitation to this ball?" he shouted.
"Of course, Charlie Brown." She pushed away from him and looked around the ballroom. "Do you see any other redheaded pumpkins here?"
"No," he shouted, "But do I know you, the real you?"
"No, but I've been watching you, Charlie Brown." She fell against him again, the puffy pumpkin costume bunching up between them. She winked at him, awkwardly reached to sip her drink and smiled. "I do love champagne," she giggled. "Don't you, Charlie Brown?"
He studied her face from close up. Did he recognize her? There was something vaguely familiar... "No, I prefer beer, but this is a party."
On stage, the band started in on a slower ballad. "Want to dance, Charlie?" she asked. She didn't wait, but pushed the bulk of her pumpkin past him, taking his hand as she did so, and pulled him into the ballroom.
Pumpkin, as he began to think of her, teetered a bit on her heels again, but he grabbed hold of a handful of costume material, took her hand and tried to pull her close. The pumpkin again bunched up between them, so Charlie felt like he was holding a foamy, stuffed bag of laundry. Still, he thought, she looked and smelled good. Up close, he studied her face again, looked into her eyes and tried to see her actual hair colour. Again, there a vague tingle of recognition, but he couldn't say he knew her.
Pumpkin looked at him as he studied her, then reached up to run her fingertips over his shaved head. "I like it Charlie Brown." As another server passed, they placed their glasses on a tray and began swaying to the music, the pumpkin, which was now become annoying, stuffed between them. Pumpkin crushed even closer to him, putting her head on his shoulder. Again, Charlie noted the tasty aroma of pumpkin pie on her and up this close, he saw a dark green hue to her eyes.
He tried his best to get his arms around her, but the pumpkin costume defeated his efforts to get some idea of the body inside the pumpkin. If he put his arms way around her, he got a big armful of puffy pumpkin. He settled for taking a hand in his and with the other he steered her around the floor, bumping into people who weren't watching, soaking up the music, still wondering who the pumpkin was, looking to see if he recognized anyone else, realizing he was hungry.
Thoughts of his stomach evaporated when he felt one of pumpkin's hands caressing his crotch as they moved. She'd slipped a hand under his oversized shirt and was gently rubbing him through his shorts. She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked him in the eyes as she fondled him. "Good grief, Charlie Brown, not going to pull away?"
He smiled down at her as she continued fondling him, then looked around to see if anyone had noticed his now aroused state. Nobody had. "No, that would spoil the mood, wouldn't it?" He pressed into her hand and she gave him a squeeze. "You're not pulling away either?"
"Of course not, Charlie Brown," she said with a smile, "this was all my idea, remember?"
He pushed into her hand again. "Yes, it was, and I'm thinking it was a damn fine idea."
She stopped moving with him then, and removed her hand from his crotch. Looking up at him, she smiled and said, "I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, Charlie Brown."
"You know my name, but I don't know yours," he replied.
"Call me whatever you want, I guess, Charlie Brown. You'll think of something."
Charlie wasn't sure what she meant by that, but as they continued moving together to the music, she took his hand that gripped her costume and moved it to the front, between them. Looking into his eyes, she reached up between them, pinched a black triangle of material that was an eye of the Jack O' Lantern, and peeled it back. "Want a Halloween treat, Charlie Brown?" She winked at him.
Charlie looked down to where she had peeled the black eye triangle back and noticed that it seemed to offer access into the pumpkin costume. He looked around to see if anyone was watching, but on the packed dance floor, everyone was busy with their partner. Saying nothing, he reached in through the eye hole and touched a bare shoulder inside. As he did, she watched his face, smiling as he touched her inside the costume. He reached a little further inside, running his fingertips over her arm, then under, to her side.
"Not pulling away?"
"No Charlie Brown."
Encouraged, Charlie moved his hand inside her Jack O' Lantern and cupped a bare breast in his hand. She stiffened a little as he did, but as he began fondling her, she relaxed into him a little more. Her breast filled his hand nicely and as he ran his thumb over a nipple, he noticed a sharp intake of her breath. He reached in further to fondle her other breast, then ran his fingertips downward, over her belly.
Damn, he thought, she doesn't have a thing on under there. As he looked into her eyes as they moved, he bent a bit to reach down and cup one of her cheeks. Kneading it with his hand, she smiled at him again.
"Happy Halloween, Charlie Brown."
He ran a hand over her bare back and she shivered. "It is now, Pumpkin."
She giggled at that, then moved away from him, causing his arm to pull out of her Jack O' Lantern. She closed the black eye triangle and, as she moved away from him, he was glad for the oversized shirt, which covered his hardness. She took both his hands in hers and began pulling him through the crowd on the dance floor. He followed along happily.
As she pulled him past a table laden with food, she let go of one of his hands and picked up a pumpkin pie. She pulled him back into the doorway they had originally been in. Slightly quieter as the band had toned things down, she held up the pie. "Want to eat some pumpkin, Charlie? Pie, I mean?" She giggled.
"Here?" he asked. "Should we move to a table?"
"No Charlie. I have a room here. Would you care to join me? We don't need a table here with everybody else."
Seriously? he thought, then shrugged. "Yes, Pumpkin, I think I'd like that."
She giggled again at his use of the name Pumpkin. "Oh, you'll like it, Charlie Brown. Pumpkin is very tasty here." She winked at him, then handed him the pie. "You carry this."
She reached behind, unlatched the door, opened it, then pulled him into a hallway. "Follow me, Charlie," she said as she walked down the hall outside the door. He did follow, watching her legs move and noting she seemed steadier on her heels. Maybe the champagne had worn off, he thought. Good or bad?
As he walked behind her, he asked, "Are you going to tell me who you are?"
"No, I'm not," she said over a shoulder. "It can be a Halloween surprise, just for you, Charlie Brown. I know who you are, that's enough."
Charlie shrugged and followed. At the end of a long hall, she finally stopped at a room door, tucked an arm inside the Jack O' Lantern and brought out a key, which she opened the door with. She walked inside. Is this it, he wondered, where I get a nasty surprise? He looked up and down the empty hallway, saw nobody around, then stepped inside the room. He watched as Pumpkin picked up a lighter and walked around the room, lighting candles placed everywhere.
She walked back to him, took the pie from him and took one of his hands. She pulled him into a bedroom lit only by a few candles. She set the pie down on a table by the bed, then stepped back in front of him. Pulling her arms inside the Jack O' Lantern, she appeared to fumble around, then he heard a zipper being pulled. As she looked at him, the Jack O' Lantern opened down the back, in almost halves. She pushed the halves open and, as he watched, it fell to the floor around her legs. Free of the costume, she wore only heels, nylons, white garters and garter belt, wig and mask. Candlelight played over her as he stared and she stepped out of the pumpkin costume. She looked as she had felt when he touched her inside the Jack O' Lantern, quite full breasted, toned... and bare.