Years ago, when I worked for a small marketing firm, there was a long standing tradition to dress up for Halloween. Several co-workers really got into it, but none so much as the woman in billing costumed as a ghastly ghoul. She not only dressed for the occasion, she also brought treats; candies, cookies and this year a haunted house. We were all agog and popped into the coffee room more often that day than most others. It sat in there — a masterpiece— piled high with orange and black frosting. She’s festooned it with black roses, orange pumpkins, scary windows and white ghosties. It really set the mood, ya know?
Working there planted the seeds for my book, The Red Shoelace Killer – A Minnie Markwood Mystery, and I’d risen to the position of senior field manager. My biggest project was the Master Card signage account and I was pretty full of myself. Hey, now I got to go to meetings with our new boss, Jack, who was no slacker when it came to self importance either.
I didn’t dress in costume that Halloween but I was not shy when it came to partaking of the goodies, especially that cake. I had a good sized slice just before a group meeting and I could still taste the sweet concoction as we began. I had my notebook in hand and adopted an appropriately serious demeanor. I was responsible for placing new credit card signage in stores in half the country, after all.
Jack was all puffed up with the glory of the account and directed many of his comments to me, frequently seeking my input on this point or that. I obliged with what I deemed to be intelligence and insight and thought the meeting was going along just swell. I crossed my legs and leaned in. I took lofty notes. I turned my head just so to show I was on top of it all.
As the minutes wore on, though, Jack seemed a little brighter than usual. Every time he looked at me he grinned – rather too much. He had quite the reputation as a flirt in spite of his portly frame and slicked back hair. So I thought I’d play along and openly laughed at his next attempt to inject a light note into this weighty subject. I think I may have even tossed my hair, real charming like.
Suddenly, unable to hold back, Jack burst into laughter.
Well, he wasn’t that funny! We all stared at him. That’s when he turned to me and pointed.
“Your mouth,” he managed to gasp. Then he held his jelly belly and gave in to the giggles.
My hand flew up, I fled the scene and dashed to the ladies room mirror. And there I beheld a truly horrific sight. My tongue, teeth and lips were completely black. The frosting rose I’d devoured from the Halloween haunted house cake had done a number on me. Yup, just call the the Zombie Field Manager from . . . well, you figure it out.
That year was a lot more trick than treat for me.
Image: Salvator Vuono Free Digital Photos