Dear Reading Friends,
I mentioned Alfred Packer, the Colorado Cannibal, in a scene for Sliced Vegetarian, but one of my writing group friends had never heard of him. The man killed five people in 1874, got away with the murder, and is in fact, buried in the Littleton Cemetery. I found his stone and thought he would make for a good, “creepy” story character. Heh, heh, heh. Part one of the story is today’s “treat.” The second, ending part, will follow next week. Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!
Dry leaves swirled over a dusting of snow that covered the gravestones off Prince Street. They danced eastward in the night through the wrought iron fence of the cemetery and into the road where children trudged in search of Halloween treats.
An old man, dressed in cowboy duster and hat appeared and sat on the short retaining wall that played foundation to the fence. He leaned back into the rails to watch the trick-or-treaters and laughed for no apparent reason. The children ignored the giddy old guy and stayed on the other side of Prince.
Then, the cowboy saw two youngsters, a little bigger than the other children walk right up. At first the man thought they might pass by without a word to him, as if he were invisible. But then again, maybe…
“Hey old man,” said the smaller of the two. “Trick or treat.” His voice was soft, almost respectful. He wore a suit and tie and the old man looked at the kid for nearly a minute before replying.
“Who are you supposed to be? I don’t see no costume on you.”
The kid laughed. “This is my costume. I’m Fox Mulder, get it? The X-Files?” He turned a glance toward his companion. “And here’s the alien Fox is always finding.”
A goofy laugh erupted from behind a standard monster mask.
“Good show, don’t you know it,” said the old guy. “Have you ever seen the movie “Natural Born Killers?” Though, come to think, you might be a bit young for that one jus’ yet.”
The boys looked at each other. The cowboy could tell they’d like that movie, even if they hadn’t yet heard of it. How could they have? Wasn’t due out for almost a year. Just the same, he jabbed them where it might hurt. “Where’re your folks, Fox?”
The boy shrugged. “We’re too old to have babysitters. ‘Sides, we have each other.” He slung a careless arm around the monster with him.
“Ah, that you do. Now, as to those treats—“
“Yeah,” said the alien. “We like them sweet, and we like lots of them.”
“Oh, I don’t got no candy. Would you settle fer the treat of a good story?”
“Man! Forget it!” said Fox. “Thought you might have something special, you being out here by yourself.” He stomped an angry foot. “Come on Alien boy. This old man’s a waste.”
“Wait!” cried the old cowboy. “I do, boy. My name’s Al and I am the best storyteller either side of the Rockies. Come. Sit. My stories will treat you to your very soul.”
“I’m getting tired in this monster head anyway,” said Alien boy to Fox. “Can’t hurt to listen.”
Al held a breath as the kid in the business suit stared back at him. The boy was not quite a teen, yet nowhere near having the spirit of a child. Al guessed he was about twelve, and that thought made the old man laugh again.
“You have a wild laugh,” said Alien kid, taking off the monster hood and sitting down next to Al. He had the pre-teen gangly look about him too. Wild, wiry hair and a largish nose would ensure the kid would get lots of teasing in high school, if it weren’t happening already. “Wish I could laugh like that.”
“For some, it takes years to get my jokes, boy. For some, this kind of laugh comes all natural.” Al laughed again and the boys tried to mimic him. By this time, Fox too had perched himself next to Al. One on either side, Al draped an arm over each boy’s shoulders.
“Now, for the story. Ever hear of the Wild West?”
“Duh.” Fox folded his arms. “We like our ghost stories to be more exciting than that.”
“Okay. So you must know about the Colorado Cannibal.”
“Colorado Cannibal? What’s that?”
“Cannibal, boys, is a man ‘twood eat up to the very bones, the flesh of ‘nother man.” Al let that thought seep in. “I knew such a cowboy once. His name was Alferd Packer.”
“Never heard of him,” said Fox.
“I have!” said Alien boy. “My big brother told me about him. He’s the guy who went out in the winter wilderness with a bunch of others, then he killed everybody with him and ate them up. I love that story!”
Al smiled and ruffled Alien boy’s hair. Cute kid. “That’s right, son. That’s right. Now sit here and I’ll give you the details.
PART TWO NEXT WEEK
P.S. Let’s all keep the east coast in our thoughts. Want to help? The Red Cross can always use your donations.