It was dusk on mischief night when we heard the car horn blasting away. We ran to the window, peeked out and saw two guys in clown getup drag a scarecrow from the trunk of their car and toss it on our front lawn and then drive off. Dad wouldn’t let us go out but we could see the straw sticking out for the shirt and pants cuffs. Three more times it happened with different cars and different clowns dropping off scarecrows, blasting horns and leaving ruts in dad’s carefully manicured lawn. At breakfast the next morning dad ordered us to stay in the house and warned us against going near the scarecrows and mom made us follow orders. Dad left for work carrying two briefcases and didn’t say a word to mom or her to him. They didn’t even look at each other. During broad daylight two more scarecrow incidents took place and our lawn or what used to be our lawn was all torn up. I called dad at work and he told me to make sure all the shades were down and to ignore the yard. “Can we still go trick or treating tonight?” I asked. “Probably,” he said and hung up. I noticed his voice was shaky and I’d never hear him talk like that before. “Call your father again,” Mom said after another scarecrow was dumped. “Tell him the neighbors are out looking at our yard.” I called Dad but his secretary said he left to go to the bank. An hour later a large red pickup truck hopped the curb and stopped in our yard. Like in the circus, a bunch of clowns got out. They shooed the neighbors away and began tossing the scarecrows into the truck bed. They must have been heavy scarecrows because it took two clowns to hoist each one. They worked fast and were gone in short order, blasting their horn as they left. Dad called a little later and said we could go out trick or treating and I told him we wanted to change our super hero costumes and become scarecrows. “No,” he said. “Don’t even think about it.” We came back home that night with huge bags filled with treats and saw two police cars in the driveway and yellow accident tape marking off our yard. Two policemen were leading dad out of the house, his hands handcuffed. “Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s just my Halloween costume.” They put him into the backseat and both police cars drove off. The next morning dad returned and he and mom went into their bedroom and spoke. There was some yelling. Mom, working fast, packed suitcases and loaded them and us kids into her van and drove off. We went to live with grandma and grandpa and Mom said we’d be there until the scarecrow episode was resolved. That was two years ago and we’re still waiting to hear from dad.
Bio: Paul Beckman’s stories are published worldwide in print and online in the following magazines amongst others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, Metazen, Boston Literary Magazine, Thrice Fiction and Literary Orphans. His work has been included in numerous anthologies. Paul earned his MFA in creative writing from Bennington College. His latest collection of flash stories, "Peek" weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. Paul is also one of the winners in The Best Small Fictions 2016! published by Queen’s Ferry Press. Stories forthcoming in the Journal of Compressed Art, Yellow Mama, Journal of Microfiction, Pure Slush, No Extra Words, Ink Sweat and Tears, F(r)iction and others.