When the clown first entered our annual Halloween party, we each assumed someone else knew who it was.
"Creepy! Nice job!"
"Wow! Where'd you find that orange jumpsuit?"
He (I assumed it was a man as he stood about six-feet-tall) slowly wove through the crowd, his steps deliberate, giving each person a penetrating look with his blue eyes that had a slightly bloodshot appearance due to the white face makeup used in conjunction with the mask. It looked very professional. Not surprising since our costume party had raised the stakes every year for quality and originality. One year a guy sewed his own Sam-I-Am costume.
But this was different. It wasn't incredibly original - the clown mask was standard "It" variety; the prison jumpsuit was shapeless; the black gloves could have been OJ's Isotoners. It wasn't the costume. It was the character who embodied the costume.
The friendly chatter gradually slowed as party guests began whispering amongst themselves trying to figure out who this stranger was. We searched his eyes for something familiar. We joked that maybe he really was a mass murderer. But under the lighthearted banter lay tendrils of fear that threatened to blossom into panic with the slightest encouragement.
Whispers of conspiracy theories rose and fell until we exhausted the possibilities.
"Ok, I give up. Who are you?"
"Do you work at Sprint?"
"Did you go to KState?"
We continued the 20 Questions format, but were still stumped. A head count had been done for those we were expecting, and no one was missing. The mood shifted again.
"Seriously, man, this if freaking me out. Who are you?"
Not a word.
My friend, Christy, and I continued to discuss possibilities off to the side, unready to confront the stranger. After reinspecting him, she gasped. "Wait! It's not a guy. It's a girl!"
"What?" I said, skeptically.
"Look at her shoes."
She was right. They were definitely women's boots. It wasn't obvious at first because the chunky 2-inch heels were mostly covered by the pant legs.
We ticked off the list of girls who hadn't arrived yet. None of them were tall enough, though, even with those boots. The only one we could think of who would have fit the body type was Brenda, but she was out of town and wasn't due back until the following day. But it had to be her.
"Brenda, is that you?" Christy asked.
Finally, the clown laughed. "Yes! I thought you'd never guess."
This was written in response to NotJustAnotherJen's Word of the Month: Fear, and the Write on Edge Remembe(RED) prompt: With Halloween approaching, many of us are revisiting fond memories of trick-or-treating, favorite candy, and parties. For Tuesday, reach back to a costume that made an impression. Was it yours? A friend’s? Maybe it was a costume you never got to wear. Show it to us with your words, draw us into the emotions it evoked at the time. Word limit is 400.