Halloween evening and most of the kids had gotten their candy. The Van Man felt rough and worn from the All-Night Horrorthon. He did not feel up to looking for girl candy at parties, so he turned in early for the night. He parked at the park and slid into the back of the van. The sounds of raging celebrations rocked him to sleep.
Two in the morning and Van Man awoke to a slight pang of hunger. He thought about drive-thru and decided to wait it out. The neighborhood was as quiet as a crypt. Odd for Halloween night. Van Man pulled the sheet to his neck and closed his eyes. A moment of clear silence. And then he heard it. The unmistakable sound of a shopping cart rolled in the distance. Some homeless person guided it. Van Man had seen them many times. That cart was their livelihood. And the sound of the shopping cart got closer.
Van Man wanted to ignore the increasingly loud sound of squeaky wheels. He could not. The sound seemed to grow louder with each step of the hobo. The silence of the neighborhood only amplified the screeching and squeaking of the metal cart. Van Man could only hope that the Hobo was not interested in a late-night rummage through the park garbage cans.
The screeching cart had reached the van and was just outside the curtained window. Van Man did not look. Not on this Halloween night. The screeching and squeaking had jumbled together and become a scream. High-pitched with a clatter of chains. Yes, he was hearing things. Fright had consumed Van Man and there was only one thing to do. Let the Homeless Person pass on down the street.
But the screeching screams would not fade. The sound stayed right outside the van. It was as if the Hobo walked in circles. Is he fuckin' with me?, thought Van Man. Surely, one of the neighbors had heard the racket and would promptly shoo the Tramp away. Or call the cops. The sound continued at a deafening volume. Minutes passed. Van Man grabbed his knife. He had enough and was ready to tell off the Tramp. He peeked out of the driver's side window and the sound stopped instantly. There was no Hobo, only an empty shopping cart in the middle of the street. Van Man looked around. The area was silent. No movement, no parties, no cars.
Van Man knew it had to be some kind of prank by young and dumb party-goers. He remembered that he had kept his sliding door window open that night. The tricksters had seen him asleep in the van and wanted to have some fun. Fuck 'em, he thought and opened his door. His grip on the knife tightened and he stepped out onto the street. His feet were bare and Van Man looked around. Nothing. He slowly walked to the cart.
Van Man had to move the cart. Many idiot drivers had sped up and down that street. The chances of a drunk driver doing it on Halloween night were high. That was bad news Van Man wanted no part of. The pavement was cold. The silence engulfed the area. He might as well have been walking in a mausoleum. Van Man reached the cart and looked around. If anyone was out in the darkness, they did a hell of a job being still. He pocketed the knife and grabbed ahold of the cart handle. Van Man pushed the shopping cart to the other side of the street. The sounds were the same as before, but nowhere near the volume. His mind had fooled him.
Van Man rushed back to his van. He locked the door, dove into the back and pulled his sheet over his face. That was spooky shit and he was done for the night. He welcomed November with a sigh and shut his eyes to blackness.
It was six-fifteen in the morning when a jogger discovered the remains of The Van Man. The van was gone and in its place was a shopping cart containing his severed head, hands, bare feet, arms and legs. His torso, buttocks and penis were missing, as well as his tongue. The police questioned the entire neighborhood, but no one had heard a thing. There had been too much noise from the many parties on the block.