Mom said we were too old for Halloween. That’s why Andy and I were at Phaups’ Farm. To get a turnip.
I kept watch while Andy dropped over the drystone dyke and into the garden where farmer Phaups kept his prize neeps: last year one was three feet in circumference and weighed in at 25 lbs. It was a wonder to behold, and there was much talk around town regarding old Phaups’ whopping great neep, and just as much speculation about the secret behind it.
Andy skirted the garden, hiding behind a willow waiting to make his move. As I watched he finally darted forward – flattening Old Phaups’ flower bed – and headed for the turnip patch. Then he froze. It seemed to me he was dallying in full view of the farmhouse windows. “Move you eejit,” I hissed. “Grab that neep and scarper.”
But Andy couldn’t move. He stood as if transfixed and then – as I looked beyond him at the turnip patch – I saw it too. The turnips – every one of them – were swaying in unison, as if following directions from some unseen conductor. Then, as I stared they began to heave themselves out of the ground, using leaves for leverage. Once free, they began to shilly-shally on gnarled roots towards Andy, who finally found the use of his legs and heeded my advice to hightail.
The vindictive turnips were almost upon us, and in light of developments we weren’t going to doubt their adeptness with dykes either.
The hullabaloo brought out old Phaups, who clapped his hands and peremptorily ordered his neeps back to their dirt naps. Only then did we notice that he had somehow acquired a Pumpkin Head.
“I’m the last of my kind”, he proffered. “I only transform on Halloween. In the olden days we were worshipped – you see my resemblance to a lantern – and in return for a sacrifice or two we would ward off the turnip rot.”
“Now, I need some fertilizer for my babies. You two will do nicely.”