Trick or Treat?
The owner of the house was eventually dragged from his cosy spot in front of the television by the insistent knocking on his front door. Opening it, he found two small figures, one a girl, dressed as a witch with chalk-white face and startling black make-up around the eyes. She was engrossed in her task of ferrying sweets from a bucket she was carrying, into her mouth. Next to her was what appeared to be a, slightly taller figure, resembling an Alsatian standing on its hind legs. The overall impression was somewhat startling but what made it odder still was that both figures were sharing a scarf*.
"Mmmf ur mmmf?" The Alsatian enquired.
"Pardon?" The householder responded.
The Alsatian muttered something, gripped itself under the chin and, after some pulling and tugging, removed a hairy mask to reveal a young boy underneath.
"I do beg your pardon" The lad politely responded, whilst attempting to flatten his hair down, "the mask does not lend itself to clear communication. My name is Peregrine, the small person next to me, currently attempting to break the world record for the consumption of cheap sweets, is my sister, Prudence. What I was trying to convey through my less than convincing Wolfman mask…"
"Oh, was that what it was?" The householder responded.
"Indeed, I must own to having doubts about it from the start. Anyway, as I was trying to enunciate…Trick or Treat?"
"Trick or Treat?"
"Yes, not my preferred tradition I must admit but needs must…our father, who is something of a traditionalist, urged us to try to resurrect 'Penny for the Guy' but, as I pointed out to him, even if Prudence and I were capable of constructing a Guy worthy of exhibition, at a penny a view it would take virtually the entire population of the town to finance a modest firework display, hence, Trick or Treat?"
"Ah, I see, so…" The householder began in an effort to staunch the flow of words from his verbose visitor.
"I must, on behalf of my sister, express a preference for cheap sweets in volume, if you have them" Peregrine smiled, winningly. Prudence attempted to do the same but was somewhat hampered by the number of sweets in her mouth and was reduced to a sickly grin.
"What if I opted for 'Trick'" asked the householder, who held the misguided belief that he could joke with children.
Peregrine sighed deeply, "I have to admit that I wish that were not an option but I suppose I have to remain true to the traditions of our transatlantic cousins. My father refers to the whole process as 'demanding benefits with menaces' but he's a policeman so I suppose that is the sort of thing he would say"
"What would it be then? Eggs and flour?" The householder chuckled.
"No, not at all. That would be crude and entirely unnecessary." Peregrine seemed a little distracted, He rummaged for a moment in a pocket before producing what appeared to be a reddish-orange tennis-ball sized piece of Plasticine. Rolling it around in his hand he seemed lost in thought. Then, eventually, "Have you heard of C4?" he asked, conversationally.
"C…C…C4? Isn't that some form of gelignite or something?"
"Ah no, a common misconception. gelignite is really a form of dynamite, quite an old-fashioned, albeit effective, explosive. No, C4 belongs to that more modern family of explosives known as plastic explosives, of which Semtex is also a member. C4, however, is off-white in colour, I understand, whereas Semtex is a sort of brick red orange" Peregrine looked, meaningfully, at the reddish orange ball in his hand.
"Are you…are you saying that's Semtex?" The householder backed a couple of yards into his hall.
"What, this?" Peregrine looked with astonishment at the ball in his hand, "Good heavens, no! Why, it would be the height of irresponsibility to wander the streets with a ball of Semtex in your pocket, would it not?" Peregrine chuckled and tossed the ball into the air, unfortunately he failed to catch it and it hit the driveway with a muffled thud "Oops, butterfingers" he exclaimed and bent to collect it. The householder was, by now, crouched in a corner of the hall with his arms and hands covering his head.
"For God's sake!" He screamed, "You'll blow us all to kingdom come!"
"It's Plasticine!" Peregrine explained, "I'm in the habit of carrying a ball about my person. Don't ask me why, just one of the idiosyncrasies of youth, I suppose. I'm truly sorry if you connected my musings about explosives with the Plasticine. Father says that I have an enquiring mind and I do have a tendency to ponder about topics that interest me, don't I Pru?"
"Oh, yes" Prudence confirmed, "Father also says you're a complete liability and you'll be the death of someone, one of these days"
"Hah! Prudence will have her little joke" Peregrine smiled, indulgently but shot his sister a look. "No, this…" he threw the reddish-orange ball in the air and caught it expertly, this time, "this is Plasticine. This, on the other hand…" He produced a similar sized ball from his left-hand pocket. It was off-white in colour.
"Look!" The householder frantically searched in his pockets and finally produced a wallet, "I don't have any sweets but, here's a fiver…"
"A fiver?" Peregrine smiled weakly and raised an eyebrow.
"No, no, of course not, what was I thinking?" The householder rummaged further in his wallet, "Here's a tenner…no, here's twenty quid, you can buy as many sweets as you like with that" he grinned, nervously.
"I'm sure Prudence is enumerating them as we speak. Thank you so much for your very generous contribution, I'm…" but the door had been slammed shut, as had the living room door from the sound of it. "Well! That was a little rude, I must say!" Peregrine said with some feeling, adding the note to a roll of similar valued currency in his pocket.
"Not as rude as that man at 14b, he said you were a little c…" Prudence commented.
"I really don't think we need to revisit the obscenities spouted by the man at 14b, Pru." Peregrine interrupted as they walked down the drive, "now, here are the balls of Plasticine, you can do that bit at the next house and I'll eat the sweets"
"Ok Fido" Prudence chuckled as Peregrine donned his Wolfman mask, again, "I'll bet I can get £50 out of the next one" She giggled as she skipped down the road.
* See 'You'd Better Watch Out' for the explanation