“Choo you kind of old to make trick or treat?”
She was, and asking the question was stating the obvious. What Mrs. Kanemura did best. But Mrs. Kanemura was the reason Kelly was out walking the uphill, sidewalkless streets of East Mānoa. An eighth grade Gulliver among first grade Lilliputians.
You could barely call what she was wearing a costume. A shapeless muslin dress her aunt had bought at India Imports, its pink and blue print faded from years of hanging on the clothesline outside the kitchen window. She had found a bird’s nest of synthetic hair at the bottom of her grandmother’s wig box. Grandmaʻs vanity drawer yielded pancake makeup that she smeared on her face. Smudged eyebrow pencil round her eyes and red lipstick drawn to look like blood dripping from her mouth made her a witch. Or ghoul. Something.
The slapdashedness was accentuated by the boy next to her. Todd. Who assembled a detailed robot head and body out of cardboard boxes painted a metallic silver, fancy buttons and random hardware standing in for R2-D2 type knobs and lights. It didnʻt look like it was made in a bedroom.
Mrs. Kanemura didnʻt look at him when she made her statement masquerading as a question. She stood there, all five-foot-one of her, in control. On her left arm hung two bags. One was a crisp white-pink-and-gold Liberty House shopping bag, the other an old fabric bag.
Kelly knew her motivation for horning in on the little kidsʻ action was in the Liberty House bag. Mrs. Kanemuraʻs caramel corn balls. Wrapped in Waxtex waxed paper in a way that made the sphere appear seamless. The translucent orbs hinted at the golden, crunchy sweetness within. Her grandmother did not make caramel corn balls. She doled out handfuls of Bazooka bubble gum. Among the sea of cheap Longs-bought candy that filled outstretched plastic pumpkins, Mrs. Kanemuraʻs culinary art was a masterpiece.
When Kelly was six, at the height of her small-kid cuteness, Mrs. Kanemura gave her two balls. She felt like Charlie seeing the golden ticket peek out from the wrapper of his Wonka Bar.
“What, is there an age limit to trick or treat?” Kelly regretted the words as they left her mouth. The time Mrs. Kanemura told her grandmother about seeing her puff a cigarette behind the garage still burned. And Kelly hated how Mrs. Kanemura picked her grandmotherʻs orange-sized Meyer lemons whenever she wanted. Never asked. Even though there were many times she needed a lemon, but there were none left, Grandma never said anything.
Todd stood there, with his big-toothed smile. Mrs. Kanemura reached into the Liberty House bag, and her plump hand emerged with a single ball, which she placed in Toddʻs Japan Airlines bag. Then she rooted around in the fabric bag and pulled out a miniature Hersheyʻs bar. With her thumb and index finger, she dropped it in Kellyʻs beach bag. Kelly saw it had almonds. She hated nuts.