Seven year old
aerospace engineer child Timothy Richardson is very concerned about the plastic frowning ghost decoration in his neighbor’s lawn. “Mommy, did he die?,” the MIT Graduate young boy asked his mother as she secured him into his car seat. “No, of course not sweetheart. Like I told you yesterday, it’s just a bad joke my love. Now sit tight in your big boy chair so we can get you to school,” said Leslie Richardson before kissing her son for a little too long on his forehead.
Mrs. Richardson, a 38-year-old helicopter mother who runs a popular “Mommy Blog” called “Take the Mommy and Run”, contacted The Plantain’s editor several times last week to express her concern about the emotional impact her neighbor’s Halloween decoration was having on her son. I was sent to investigate.
“When I first saw Timothy cower at the site of that terrible plastic frowning ghost I realized that it was my duty as his mother to protect him from such ghoulish imagery. It is just so cruel how our society treats children around Halloween. Being exposed to ghosts or spider webs is just not good for their mental health,” said Mrs. Richardson before adding “It’s a modern day lynching,” a comment she quickly regretted and asked me not to print.
For the last several weeks Mrs. Richardson has been on a crusade to eliminate every ghost, skeleton, and monster from Coral Reef Elementary School where her son
teaches attends. “It has been so difficult to get the school to agree to take down all of its Halloween decorations and cancel its annual charity costume contest, but my perseverance paid off.”
“She threatened a lawsuit against me, the School District, and Timothy’s teacher Ms. Monica for intentional infliction of emotional distress,” explained Coral Reef Principal Henry Wilkinson. “We just didn’t think it was worth the fight.” Recognizing her threat may appear drastic to some, Mrs. Richardson justified it as necessary for her child’s protection. “It’s no different than a child with a peanut allergy expecting his school respect his anatomical differences. My son is allergic to scary things.”
This reporter asked Mrs. Richardson to allow Timothy to sit for an interview outside of her supervision, but was denied the request on the basis of Timothy being “a little scared of red heads. You understand.”
Never one to allow a finicky mother to get in the way of my journalistic integrity, I arrived at Coral Reef Elementary to confront Timothy in front of his peers to find out why Halloween decorations scare him so much and what he thought of his mother’s efforts. As I, a grown and unshaven man, approached the young child sitting alone in the lunchroom we locked eyes. “Hey Timmy, can I ask you a few questions about Halloween?"
“Could you not? I’m- I’m trying to eat my lunch!” shouted Timothy as he ran off into the bathroom to finish his tuna fish sandwich alone in the handicapped stall. Left sitting alone at the undersized lunch table I was approached by an elderly woman who asked, with appropriate suspicion, who I was. “I came here to talk to a young child about his deepest fears,” I told the woman without blinking.
“I think you ought to go,” she said nervously. As I stood up to leave I grabbed the Ziploc bag full of homemade trail mix that Timothy left behind when he ran away from me. There were peanuts in it – a violation of Coral Reef’s snack policy. God, Mrs. Richardson is such a hypocrite.
As I left the lunchroom I noticed the elderly lady that confronted me staring suspiciously while on the phone with someone; likely the police.
I attempted to reach Mrs. Richardson again for a follow-up interview but was informed by her attorney that any further contact would result in my arrest. As I became more obsessed with the details of this story I disregarded my editor's advice and drove through the Richardson's community and noticed it had been ridded of all Halloween decorations, with the exception of the single plastic frowny ghost that still hung from the Richardson’s neighbor’s home.
I approached that home and spoke with its owner Javier Colon. When asked why he had kept the frowny plastic ghost when it looked like all of his neighbors had acquiesced to Mrs. Richardson's requests, the man seemed confused. “Who’s Mrs. Richardson?” he asked, explaining that no one had asked him to take down his decorations.
“Your neighbor…Leslie Richardson,” I explained pointing to the Richardson's home. “She has a son named Timothy. He’s a shy, nervous boy.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. That home has been empty for years. The family that lived there died 7 years ago. Come to think of it, they died on Halloween.”
Panic filled my breath and I began recounting the last several days and all of the time I had spent with Mrs. Richardson and Timothy. Had any of that been real? I began to hyperventilate and grasped my head wondering if I had imagined it all or if I had somehow encountered the ghost of a family that died years ago.
“Bro, bro…” interrupted Mr. Colon. “I’m just messing with you, man. The Richardsons live next door. The mother asked me to take down the ghost, but I told her no. That kids got to toughen up.”
I thanked Mr. Colon for his time and walked back to my car. As I was about to drive away I looked up at the Richardson's second story window and could see Timothy frightfully peering through his curtains and staring at the frowny plastic ghost that, for whatever reason, made him so scared.
"Mom! The reporter that attacked me at school is outside,” shouted a petrified Timothy to his mother.
“Get away from the window!” responded Mrs. Richardson as she ran toward the shotgun she kept in her closet.