The Red Skulls biker gang, made up of Harley-riding witches, had never thrown a Halloween party before. Sure, they’d gathered the coven at midnight on Samhain. They’d communed with the spirits on the other side. They’d reached beyond the veil in the light of the full moon. But a party? With themed-out napkins and paper plates?
It was almost too much for me to imagine.
“It starts at five on the dot,” my grandmother instructed. “Oh, and Lizzie, I need you to bring a snack to share.”
I gripped the phone tighter. “You can’t be serious.” Maybe she wasn’t. There had to be a punchline in here somewhere.
Grandma Gertie was the leader of the Red Skulls. She walked around in leather chaps with a sagging tattoo of a phoenix on her arm. She ate pork ribs off the bone, drank whiskey straight out of the bottle. Of course that also meant she hadn’t touched an oven mitt since the Carter administration. “Whip up some of those cupcakes I saw in that magazine at your condo,” she said, “the ones with the licorice legs that look like spiders. See if you can get gumdrops for the eyes.”
Just because I’d subscribed to Good Housekeeping didn’t mean I knew what to do with the recipes. I sent in the subscription card on one particularly optimistic day. After that, I enjoyed looking at the pretty pictures. It had been innocent. Harmless.
“You seem to forget that I’m the anointed demon slayer of Dalea,” I told her. There was only one of us born every three generations, for goodness’ sake.
I’d learned I was said demon slayer on the night of my thirtieth birthday, when Grandma in her full biker glory showed up unannounced on my doorstep and informed me I wouldn’t be teaching preschool anymore. She then inadvertently locked me in the bathroom to battle a demon with a bottle of air freshener. It had been a wild ride ever since.
“Are you fighting a demon right now?” she asked, her voice sounding even rustier over the phone.
“No,” I groused.
“Then those should be some damned good cupcakes.”
I groaned. Trapped. Like a rat.
So I did what any crusader for goodness and light would do. headed to the grocery store to figure out what size gumdrops made the best spider eyes.
Then I returned home and did my best impression of Martha Stewart, if the homemade diva wore leather boots and a Kiss My Asphalt T-shirt. If I take on a job, I do it right.
After I’d finished baking, I dressed in a black leather dress, my demon slayer weapons belt, and a cute pair of spider earrings I found on a rack by the checkout lane.
It was time to see exactly what Grandma had planned for this party.
“Come on, Pirate,” I said to my Jack Russell terrier.
I hoisted a box full of treats that would make my friends on Pinterest proud and led my dog out of the condo. I locked the door behind us since my mouthwatering plus-one, Dimitri, had gone into the city this afternoon to meet with visiting dignitaries from the griffin clans of Santorini. He was the liaison here in North America.
No doubt he would have found the idea of a biker witch Halloween party as odd as I did.
It was barely four in the afternoon.
Pirate trailed behind me, sulking. “I don’t know why I followed you outside. I ain’t going anywhere until you get me out of this straitjacket.”
Did I mention one of the side effects of my awesome powers was that I could also understand my dog?
Sometimes it was a gift. Other times, a curse.
“You look darling,” I told him. He did.
He was mostly white, with a dollop of brown on his back that wound up his neck and over one eye. I’d named him Pirate for that reason. And thanks to the PetSmart.com, I’d found him a little doggy pirate outfit, complete with a red-and-white-striped shirt and a black belt with a stuffed sword hanging from it. Precious.
“Admit it. I look stupid,” he grumbled.
“That’s because you’re not wearing the hat,” I told him, “but don’t worry. I already packed it. We’ll strap it on when we get there.” Too bad the outfit didn’t come with an eye patch.
“I’d better get a cupcake,” he muttered as I picked him up and set him on the leather seat of my Harley.
Ever since I’d learned to ride, my furry friend had become a biker dog. Until recently, I wore him close to my body with what can best be described as a leather baby carrier.
A biker witch named Bob had made my dog a permanent doggy seat in front of me. Pirate liked being the first one to catch the breeze as we rode. I secured him snugly and fastened his canine riding goggles, also known as doggles.
Pirate stared at the box of goodies I’d strapped to the luggage rack of the Harley, as if he could make a cupcake fall out by willpower alone.
I’d tell him later I packed some yummy doggy dental chews.
“Okay, buddy,” I said, climbing on behind him. “You ready?”
“Oh, yeah,” he said, forgetting his wardrobe issues as I fired up the engine. Going on a ride always perked my dog up. Claiming a seat at the front of my bike was like sticking his entire body out the car window.
I stroked him behind the ears, just the way he liked. “Let’s get this party started.”
My dog threw his head back and howled in triumph as we blazed out onto the open road.