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Michael Corleone makes fun of the Incredible Hulk

DAVID SILVA

“Stay together, don’t cross the tracks, don’t knock on any strange

doors and don’t eat any candy until I’ve looked at it first. And be

home by 8:30!”

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“OK, Mom!”

It was the first time our mother was allowing my brother and me to

go trick-or-treating on our own. We would have readily agreed to

wearing pink bows in our hair in order to get out of the house before

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she changed her mind.

This was it -- the night for which we had been preparing ourselves

for weeks. Michael was dressed as a gangster, of course. He was a big

fan of “The Godfather,” and his Halloween costumes were invariably

Mafia-related. My mother put the outfit together by dying his old

Holy Communion suit black, dusting off dad’s old black fedora and

borrowing a black, beaten-up violin case from a neighbor.

Mom was always really supportive of my brother’s mob costumes,

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probably because they reminded her of growing up in New York.

“You look great,” she said to Michael after she finished dressing

him up. “Trust me, they’ll be calling the cops when you show it at

the door. You look good, too, Davey.”

“No, he doesn’t,” my brother said. “Dude, you look like a dork.”

And so I did. As usual, I had wanted to be a superhero for

Halloween, so my mother had hauled me down to Thrifty’s to buy me one

of those $5.99 superhero costumes. “Look, Davey!” she had said with

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insincere excitement. “You get the shirt, pants, mask AND the cape!

For only six bucks!”

When the big night rolled around, I put on the costume, turned to

my mother and told her she had been ripped off. The fabric had all

the give and durability of a crayon and the rubber band on the mask

broke the moment I tried to pull it over my head.

But worse than the poor quality of the costume was that my mother

had gotten one about two sizes too small for me. It was a costume of

Superman, but by the time I had gotten it on, I looked like the

Incredible Hulk. The sleeves had ripped up to my elbows, the pant

legs had split open all the way to my upper calves. I looked at

myself in the bathroom mirror and groaned.

But I forgot about how goofy I looked the moment Mom handed my

brother and me our trick-or-treat bags.

“OK, repeat the rules back to me,” she said.

“Stay together, don’t cross the tracks, don’t knock on any strange

doors, and don’t eat any candy ‘til you’ve had a chance to look at

it,” Michael and I solemnly intoned.

“And what else?”

“And be home by 8:30.”

“Right,” our mother said. “If you eat any unwrapped candy, you’ll

get poisoned and die. Now go have fun. And be home by 8:30!”

But just before she let us go, she had to break out the Polaroid.

“OK, rub your knuckles together and look mean,” she directed

Michael as she snapped his picture. “OK, you two can go now. Remember

to watch for cars!”

“Aren’t you gonna take a picture of me?” I asked.

“No. Now both of you behave and be home by 8:30!”

The first thing Michael and I did was ditch each other, he for his

friends and me for mine. I managed to round up the Aragon brothers,

who took karate classes and were dressed as ninjas, and the three of

us immediately crossed the tracks at Randolph Street so we could hit

the more expensive homes up by State Street. In our own neighborhood,

all we’d have gotten were Chiclets and candy corn.

“Let’s go to the Clarendon Arms!”

“Yeah!”

In Huntington Park, the Clarendon Arms was this 1900s-era hotel

that was probably the center of societal gravity back in 1900, but

when I was a kid was the town flophouse for drunks, dope fiends and

ex-convicts. The reason why my friends and I thought it would be cool

to trick or treat there was that we were sure we would be the first

-- no other kids would have been that stupid.

We slipped through the back door and up the stairs of the old

hotel and started knocking on doors. Most of the doors we knocked on

went unanswered and at one, someone yelled at us to go away. We were

just about to give it up when we knocked on this one door and it

instantly cracked open, and this man in a dirty t-shirt who looked

like a cross between Giovanni Ribisi and James Woods leaned out with

a big smile on his face. The smile instantly vanished when he saw two

4-foot ninjas and a 5-foot Incredible Hulk standing in the dingy

hallway.

“Trick or treat!”

“Uh ...”

The man looked confused, and glanced back into his room as if for

help.

“Uh, it’s ... uh ... Halloween?”

He checked his wrist and realized he wasn’t wearing a watch.

“Yeah, like, I don’t got any candy or nothing, little dudes ... uh --

I think I got some crackers. I’ll go check.” And he closed the door.

“Dude, this guy’s a freak. Let’s go,” I whispered to Mike, the

older Aragon.

“Nah, man. I wanna see if he really brings back some crackers!”

The door popped back open and the man reached out and dropped some

Saltines in our bags. “Merry Christmas, little dudes!”

My friends and I spent the next two hours after that knocking on

every door we could find in a 1-mile radius. When it was over, I met

up with my brother at our prearranged rendezvous point and we plopped

down to eat as much unwrapped candy as we could before our mother saw

it and threw it away.

We both knew what we were doing wasn’t very bright, but I had a

system. If some unwrapped candy looked particularly suspicious, I’d

first offer a piece to my brother. If Michael wouldn’t eat it, it had

to be poisoned.

Finally, Michael and I came home, sweaty and so hopped up on sugar

it would be hours before we’d be able to fall asleep. Our mother

walked in and gave us a hard look.

“Were you boys good?” she asked. “Did you follow the rules?”

“Yes, we did, Mom,” we replied sincerely. And in our hearts we

truly believed we had.

We were home by 8:30.

* DAVID SILVA, a Burbank resident and former Leader city editor,

is an editor for Times Community News. Reach him at (909) 484-7019,

or by e-mail at david.silva@latimes.com.


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