Into the Spider's Web Part II
Halloween arrived but the costumes hadn’t. That was a definite problem.
“We could always cut some holes in sheets and go as ghosts,” Ethan joked.
I gave him a withering look. “Not funny,” I said. I wasn’t about to tell him I’d been there, done that, and still had the scars to show for it. One year, when Mom couldn’t afford anything else, she took one of our old sheets and told me I’d be the Spirit of Halloween Past, sort of a twist on the ghosts in A Christmas Carol. I proudly wore my costume to school, so I could participate in the annual Halloween parade around the school grounds. The other kids quickly let me know just how ridiculous I really looked. Never going there again.
He gave me a discerning look that cut straight to my soul and I quickly looked away, lest he read the secrets written there. We’d been together for almost four years then, but there were things I’d never gotten around to telling him. Someday, I promised myself, I would tell him everything, but someday wasn’t now.
The invitation sat on our bed. It was obviously custom printed. Hell, for all I knew, Spider owned an interest in some printing company. Why not, he had a finger in a lot of other pies. Gilt lettering on stiff parchment paper in the shades of Halloween. Wolfgang Meier and Guest. I assumed I was the guest. A name like Wolfgang could only belong to Ethan. I didn’t exactly look Germanic, but Ethan was both blond-haired and blue-eyed. I didn’t care. Whatever it took to get us in the door.
To get this bust, I’d be Guest, I’d be the Butler. Hell, I’d even be the Maid, if that’s what did it. Not that I thought it would come to that, but I’d been required to wear a dress before, on more than one occasion. Funny how Ethan always managed to dodge that particular bullet.
“Vinnie…” he said, and I knew without looking he was drawing closer, and if he touched me the right way, or just looked into my eyes, I’d be lost. I felt my heart skip a beat and I tensed for his question…
But a knock at the door ended that. And when I dared to look up at him, he’d gone to get it, and I was able to release the breath I’d been holding.
He thanked the driver and carried a good-sized package into our motel room and set it on the bed. Last minute, maybe, but the costumes had arrived. We were saved.
Now to see what we were going as.
I assumed our costumes would be matched in some way. Cowboys would be practical. Who would suspect our weapons were real?
We stared at the box for a long minute. I was suddenly apprehensive, for no reason I could think of.
“You know it won’t open itself, right? Want me to get it?” I offered.
“No, thanks, I have it.”
Ethan pulled out his pocket knife and slid it along the seams of the package. The sides popped up, blocking my view of what was inside. I refrained from tapping my foot—seeing as the motel room was carpeted, the effect would have been diluted anyway— and waited impatiently for him to pull something out.
He lifted out the first costume and held it up against him. It seemed like a military type uniform, and was obviously meant to resemble a breastplate except it was made from cloth. Looked Roman, judging by the skirt, which came down to Ethan’s knees. As I watched, he dug out a laurel leaf and matching sandals. Not a soldier, then, someone with status. Apparently this was Ethan’s costume. If it came down to his knees, it would be too long on me.
That wasn’t too bad. I could live with that. I’d had to wear a lot worse.
“You got one of those in my size too?” I asked.
“No, I got you something different.”
Apprehension was knotting my stomach. “Who exactly are you supposed to be?” I asked, feeling sure that held the key to everything.
“ Marc Anthony. You know, the guy who said friends, Romans, countrymen, blah blah blah—”
“I know who he was,” I interrupted. “Is it too much to hope I’m dressing as dead Caesar?” I didn’t think so, but I had to ask.
“No, we’ll be a much more compatible couple.”
No more questions. Now was the moment of truth, no matter what is was. I pulled the box closer and peered inside, then lifted out what I saw. It was gauzy and filmy, and even kind of pretty, but it was definitely a gown. As in women’s wear. As in…
“Cleopatra?” I gave him my best are-you-kidding look? “You want me to go dressed as Cleopatra?”
“The queen of the Nile herself.” He nodded. “It has a wig and sandals, and a little jewelry.”
Oh, lucky me. Matching accessories.
“What’s wrong with you?” I blurted out.
“Nothing. I just figured we’d be less conspicuous if we posed as a man and a woman. No one would suspect us of being feds.”
“You mean as opposed to us showing up as a gay couple?” I asked sarcastically.
“Exactly! I’m glad you understand—”
“I don’t understand your incessant need to put me in a dress!”
“Vinnie,” he began in a voice calculated to soothe. It wasn’t working.
I reached into the box and pulled out a long black wig that would surely reach down to my ass, and would be fucking heavy. There was also a crown, fronted by a cobra, bracelets, a necklace, and sandals that would tie up my leg.
“Where the hell am I supposed to pack in this getup?” I demanded. “I’m not going in there without my gun, and this leaves nothing to the imagination.”
“You can use a thigh holster.”
Seems like he had an answer for everything.
to be continued