There are two llamas strapped to the back of a ute, grinning at me in this mire of traffic and tarmac mirage. I don’t know if they’re to scale but their fat plastic heads seem huge, looming above the dashboard of my power blue Nissan Micra. The traffic stagnates, and I fester. My thoughts pool around my feet like porridge. The insistent honk of a horn startles me, and I put my foot down. In the moment before contact, as the car lurches forward, I realise my fly is open and my hand is down my pants. I’ve drifted so far far in the sea of cars, dribbling my brain over the dashboard, masturbating. My bumper crunches into the back of the ute’s trailer and the last thing I see are the fat grinning plastic llama faces smashing through the windshield into me.
The kids are out in force tonight, dressed in bed sheets and bad wigs and fairy wings, yelling ‘Trick or treat!’ at houses with no tricks up their sleeves at all. They shove fat hands into bowls and buckets and cooking pots and stuff lollies into their bags, fretting at their companions in front, getting the good bits. I look over the heads of candy-eyed eight year olds to the street beyond and there’s a boy there by himself. He’s shaken off the regal train of clucking parents and mouth-breathing cousins and is skulking by the fence. He’s wearing a laundry bag, brown paper, the sort you see in movies. It’s got a few holes torn in it for arms, a big gash for his neck, and he’s wearing it with the sort of fuck off expression I reserve for weekdays before coffee. The crowd of neighbourhood infants clatter down our steps to the houses beyond, and laundry bag kid slinks up, eyes down, breathing hard. He doesn’t say ‘Trick or treat.’ Doesn’t meet our gazes, just shoves his hot pink hand into our saucepan of Wizz Fizz and Snickers bars, draws out more than he can hold, shoves most of it awkwardly under the bag into a pocket. He drops a few things on the way but doesn’t stop to pick them up, just pulls his head into his shoulders and turns hard to go. Before he does, his eyes dart up and he stares at me, just for a second. It’s a look so fierce and harsh and frightened that I can’t help but smile at all this fury and terror in a body so small. He sees, and his face goes ugly, but he doesn’t run. Just turns on his heel and balls up his fists and kicks his way out our gate like a fat lipped old drunk on a thunder night. It’s not until he gets to the edge of the street that I see him start to sob.