Laughing as the Spirits Appear Who: Richard and Lucy What: A Random Encounter at a Costume Shop Where: Screaming Mimi's Costume Boutique When: October 11, 2011, Early Evening Warnings: None yet
The Halloween Warehouse had been a massive disappointment. Richard didn't know exactly what he had been expecting from a temporary storefront in a strip mall, but it had been something better than vinyl bags with pictures of costumes that only vaguely resembled the cheap fabric inside. Maybe it had been the lousy rubber masks that had left him feeling so dissatisfied, maybe it was the flimsy plastic armor, but something had hit an unexpected nerve. Costumes were supposed to give you a chance to be someone you weren't! Well, he corrected himself, costumes were at least supposed to get you free booze and help you meet new people. He somehow doubted that anyone who would be impressed by a Darth Vader costume with buttons printed onto the fabric of the chest would be someone he wanted to meet.
A quick Google search later and Richard had the address for a place called Screaming Mimi's Costume Boutique, which specialized in vintage clothing and sounded much more promising. Since the map made it look like it was in a residential district he ditched the truck (even unhitched from the Monster it was too big to drive down most streets safely) and opted for the bus. With route-changes and an unexpected post-Columbus day detour the ride had taken him almost an hour, but as he stepped down from the bus he thought it might have been worth it. The neighborhood looked like a small town main street, with a row of old fashioned shops on one side and a small park on the other. Something jazzy was playing from the coffee shop on the corner, and the sound mixed with the smell of pumpkin spices from a nearby bakery and what he thought was barbecue from down the street. The whole area looked both trendy and posh, as though some planning committee had put a lot of time making sure that the only thing it had in common with the rest of California was an accident of geography.
Already more hopeful, Richard followed his iPhone's directions down two streets of quaint eateries, art galleries, and antique stores to what looked like a clothing store. That is, until he looked up. Each window on the second floor had a pair of shapely legs coming from it, each pair wearing a different kind of garishly colored stockings. The internet reviews had mentioned this, but Richard still grinned and shook his head. No mistaking this place!
As he walked in, squeezing past a mannequin dressed as Marsha Brady, he got a feeling that he was going to like this shop a whole lot more than the last. The store was filled with racks of clothes which, from what he could see, were sorted by decade. Shoes lined the walls up to a point, and above them hung pre-assembled outfits. A long glass counter filled with costume jewelry split the shop in two, and on the other side Richard could see mascot masks and rows of clothing so thick they must be hard to move. Rentals, he guessed. But best of all, the place was almost empty. After the hordes of Halloween shoppers at the other store, it was nice to see that this one so sparsely populated. He guessed that the two women dressed as Jackie O. ran the place, which meant that he was the only customer besides the blond over by the row of dresses. That suited him just fine. He nodded at the women behind the counter and started to browse, working his way back from the door.
This place presented a whole new set of problems. There were too many choices! He flipped through a selection of military coats and trenches, paused briefly to chuckle at some 80s castoffs that probably have come from his high school wardrobe, and lingered for a while over a display of hats. He was just about to try on a fez when he looked up and accidentally caught the other patron's eye. Richard paused, hat midway to his head, and smiled a greeting.