The rest of our dinner was convivial, as usual. Wayne was an interesting raconteur, if you had a taste for the slightly morbid; so I flatter myself that I was an attentive listener. By now summer had finally began to turn to a proper autumn, so naturally Halloween was mentioned. Wayne felt obliged to warn me that the holiday might be stressful for tenants of the house.
“It’s the children of the neighborhood,” he explained. “They find the house fascinating at this time of year. Irresistible, even.”
“Really?” I replied. “The neighborhood children seem quietly terrified of the place. They will not come near it now.”
Wayne smiled. “That’s what Halloween is for, my dear fellow,” he said. “Making you go to places that terrify you. The children will come, and without permission, I assure you. You should be prepared for that.”
“Oh, I am.” That statement seemed to engage Wayne, somehow. He leaned forward.
“Did you have something in mind?” Wayne asked. “Something suitable for the season?”
“Yes, actually,” I said, somewhat carefully. “I dreamed a most entertaining idea about how to handle matters, in fact. Nothing involving owls!” I lied, and saw that same flash of satisfaction in Wayne’s eyes. “But I imagine that previous tenants have come up with their own solutions before.”
Wayne shook his head, a certain look of well-hid speculation in his eyes. “No,” he said. “No, in fact they did not.”