The shadow of my goat costume looked strange. It stretched across the street from the lights from the parking lot behind me. I looked across it to see if it was clear.
I didn’t see anything. I crossed the street and went into Sallinly’s yard. Then across it in the shadows to Scully’s. Their lights were still on and I saw, Ole Jim sitting watching TV. The window was open and music from the TV show came out the window. Jim’s cigarette glowed and I heard it burn. He must have heard me over the TV noise and turned toward the window. But it was dark, and probably he didn’t see me. His eyes looked empty and quiet. He pulled another burn on the cigarette, then stubbed it out in the ashtray on the arm of his chair. He moved the ashtray to a table and turned and watched TV. There was something lonesome about all that too.
It took me about fifteen minutes to get to Meadow and on the Lee Apartments. I was sneaking in the shadows. I pretended I was in the Army and a scout behind lines. I went from shadow to shadow and stopped and squatted down and looked to make sure things were clear. The goat and the shadows made me feel invisible.
There were still people in the streets, mostly kids older than me, still doing Halloween highway robbery. And sometimes I joined up with their little bunches. I knew all of them even in their Cinderella and Pirate costumes. They didn’t pay much attention to me. People are like that. They know it’s a make up, but it doesn’t matter if your Jody Darnblat pretending to be a goat or somebody else being a goat. It’s all part of the highway robbery game they are losing their morals to. Maybe one or two of them looked at me like I was a little too real. Like I say, Mom is really good at making Halloween costumes. But most of them just looked like they wanted a costume like mine for their highway robbery immorality.
Miss Brudgditter was staying at the Meadow on the Lee Apartments. She told us in English Class she was moving to town for her eight weeks student teaching because, if she was teaching, she wanted to “be part of the community.” People thought this was nuts. But, as has been shown so far in what I am writing, she is a bit nuts.
Of course, I didn’t know which of the apartments Miss Brudgditter lived in. And lights were on in a couple. In some there was the blue flicker of TV. Then I heard water running and turned that way. The window was open just a little. Miss Brudgditter was leaning over the sink and splashing water on her face. She lifted up and leaned on the sink and looked out the window. I ducked away into the shadow of the willow, but then looked back.
“You idiot,” she said at the window. She was talking to herself, of course. But when people talk to themselves like they were another person, you sort of think it is you. And so, yeah, I have to admit I was being pretty much a idiot looking in somebody’s window. Then she shook her head and turned around. She went back into the apartment and sat down so I could only see the top of her head. Then I heard the twang of a guitar. Her head leaned over and I could see she was watching her hand on the guitar. Pretty soon she was strumming out a western song. Then she sang:
If you ever cross the line
and find your lies have gone too far
don’t turn around or look back
but find a guiding star.
Cause, the hurt you left behind
is a knotted sin that won’t unbind.
The past is just a place you been,
the playground of your costume fakes,
the empty street where misery’s takes
you, the highway of your original sin.
and the hurt you left back there
is just another road to nowhere.
Even in your darkest days
When light is just a thought,
ahead is where to turn your eyes.
Ahead is all for goodness you have got.
Just, count that hurt you left behind
a knotted sin you can’t unbind.
And remember only to remember
your darkest days aren’t where you are
So, don’t turn around or look back.
but turn toward your guiding star.
Ahead is all you’ve got to find
your soul and free you sinful mind.
She stopped singing. Then I heard the guitar twang a last noise. And she looked up. I could only see the top part of her face, just her eyes and forehead.
“Goddamn, Vernie,” She said, “You’re so sorry you could cry.” She leaned over out of sight and the guitar tinged again and she sat up. She had a tissue and was wiping her eyes with it. “And if you could sing, you’d be in Nashville.” She giggled and wiped her eyes.
Pretty soon she stood up and turned out all the lights except one through a door behind. She went through that door and then that light went out too.
I looked around quick to see if anybody seen me in the bushes. But there weren’t many Halloween highway robbers out anymore. They were giving up because most of the people were turning their lights off. All I saw was the shape of a owl in shadows of the branches of one of the cottonwoods. The wind rattled in the trees and whined in the telephone wires.
I didn’t see anybody else.