Once he got to his car, Jim peeled the "Dave" name-tag from his chest and crumpled it up. He was able to escape work early, which he was thankful for since Joker Dwight had asked him a dozen times today if Jim wanted "to see a magic trick". A buzz came from his messenger bag and he reached in for his phone.
"Leaving work, better hang onto my hat," the message read. He selected the attachment and laughed when the photo loaded. There was his sweet, funny, talented, beautiful fiancee (still couldn't quite believe he could say fiancee), accidentally looking like Adolf Hitler.
Hitting the call button, he pressed the phone to his ear and chuckled when Pam answered "Hello" in a low, irritated voice. "Maybe you can call it a performance art piece," he started.
"Yeah? How's that?" Pam said skeptically.
"It's, you know, some kind of social commentary. Just one little change and you've transformed a beloved groundbreaking actor into the worst guy to ever live."
"I just wanted to wear a bowler hat." Pam groaned.
"Famous last words."
Pam laughed and suddenly remembered something. "Oh, can you swing by my parents? I guess some of my boxes are crowding the garage and I told Mom we would take them. She should be home." Pam stuck with her view that they shouldn't move in together until they were engaged, and rather than just moving in along with her things before she went to New York, she packed up her apartment and left most of the boxes at her parent's place just north of Scranton.
"But then your stuff is going to be crowding me," Jim said.
"That you're just gonna have to get used to," Pam retorted and Jim laughed. "But, seriously, I don't want Mom and Dad to be bickering over those boxes,"
Jim had also noticed that Bill and Helene seemed strained a bit lately, their fights increasing in frequency, "They'll still bicker, some boxes won't change that."
"I know but it at least won't be over me," Pam said in a pleading tone. "Please?"
"Alright, Charlie Hitler, I'll do it."
Pam laughed an exhausted laugh, "I'm going straight to my room and de-mustaching. Love you, watch out for trick-or-treaters!"
"Love you too," Jim closed his phone and tossed it onto the passenger seat. He left the Scranton Office Park lot and started making his way north towards the Beesly's. At a stoplight, a group of middle school-aged kids crossed in front of him. He saw one dressed as a pirate complete with eye patch and smiled to himself.
Jim had decided he was not a costume guy.
Once he aged out of trick-or-treating a few years ago, he hadn't made much effort to put together costumes. At school everyone would dress up on Halloween Day but Jim would wear a mask or funny glasses with his regular clothes and have that be the extent of it.
Now it was senior year and everyone was so excited that Halloween was actually on a Friday. Jim begrudgingly agreed to go to a costume party with Mark tonight but had no interest in spending time or money on an outfit.
After dinner, Jim was firmly on the couch, watching Addams Family with his little sister. Larissa was dressed in track pants, a bright spandex tank and a high ponytail. The doorbell rang and Larissa jumped up to answer, and then Jim heard a shriek and a loud "All righty then!" at the same time.
"Larissa?" their mother called from the kitchen in a concerned tone.
"I'm fine, Mom, it's just Mark the Idiot." Larissa said in an annoyed tone when she returned to the living room, a boy right behind her in a Hawaiian shirt, red pants and a pompadour hairdo.
"Be nice, sweetie," Mom called back.
"Yeah, be nice to me," Mark teased, tossing a grocery bag on the couch.
Larissa rolled her eyes and looked Mark up and down, "Who are you supposed to be anyway?"
Mark pulled a wallet from his pocket and opened it so a handmade "Pet Detective" card was in view. "I'm Ace Ventura. And who are you supposed to be?"
"Mel C," Larissa answered. Mark looked at her blankly and she scoffed. "Sporty Spice, from Spice Girls? It's a group costume, I made sure to call dibs on one that wore pants."
"Yeah but doesn't she wear like little crop tops?" Mark put his hands under his ribs and puffed his chest out. "Wouldn't that be a more accurate costume?"
Jim stood, ready to tell Mark to stop harassing his little sister, but she rolled her eyes and he knew she didn't need any brotherly intervention.
Mark looked over to Jim in his plain black clothes. "You need to go put on your costume, Halpert, or…?"
"No, I'm fine." Both Larissa and Mark looked skeptical so Jim pulled an eye patch from his pocket and slipped it on. "There, I'm a minimalist pirate."
Larissa chuckled and Mark shook his head, "I knew you were gonna try to pull something like this. That's why I planned ahead." Digging in the grocery bag, he pulled out a long black cape and a mask. "Voila!"
In Mark's hands was his Phantom of the Opera costume from the spring musical. He auditioned on a whim and managed to land the understudy role and even got to do a couple shows when the lead came down with laryngitis. Jim shook his head, "No."
"Oh c'mon, Jim," Larissa whined. She took the mask from Mark's hands. "This way you won't be the only one at the costume party not dressed and therefore a total lame-o."
"Plus chicks dig the Phantom, man, he's brooding. I wore this to the after party and Shelia Davis totally stuck her tongue down my thro-aaahhh." Mark looked up to see Jim and Larissa's mom standing with a half smile on her face. Mark pretended to scratch his nose, "She um, gave me a peck on the cheek."
Jim chuckled, slipped on the mask then fastened the cape around his neck. "Okay, everyone happy now?"
"Wait," Mark dug in the bag and pulled out a silk rose. He pulled on one side of the cape where a hidden loop was and threaded the stem into it. "Now you have a favor when you find your Christine." Mark said, flicking out his hand in a dramatic way.
"Oh my god," Jim muttered, and his mom walked over to straighten his cape collar.
"You all look great." She turned to Larissa and Mark. "Okay so you're dropping off Larissa at Kaitlin's first, and then going to Ethan Mackenzie's then back by…?"
"Midnight?" Mark said tentatively. Jim's mom arched a brow and Mark started bumbling. "Or um, 11 if that's better."
"Midnight is fine, call if you need anything."
Both Jim and Larissa mumbled that they would and made their way out the door to Mark's car.
First stop was Larissa's friends place in south Dunmore. Kaitlin was a freshman along with Larissa and was having a Halloween sleepover. Mark pulled up to the curb and a girl with big blonde pigtails and a tiny pink dress came out of the house.
"Oh, Baby Spice rushing to see us, huh?" Mark said with a smirk.
"You are not the one who Kaitlin wants to see, Mark," Larissa replied. Jim widened his eyes and turned around to the back seat, where Larissa was zipping up her overnight bag. "What? You know that," she said.
Jim shook his head "I do not know that." And then suddenly all that was in his window was pink and blonde.
"Hi Jim, what's your costume?" Kaitlin asked with a wide smile.
"Oh, um," Jim slipped on the mask and turned back to her. "Phantom of the Opera."
"I love it!" Kaitlin squealed and Jim was glad the mask was mostly cover his cheeks.
"That's a pretty great costume also, Baby." Mark said with a smarmy smile.
"Thanks," Kaitlin said with a forced smile. She studied Mark's hair for a moment. "Are you Elvis?"
Mark sighed and pulled out his handmade "Pet Detective" card again, "Ace Ventura. Jim Carrey?"
"Oh, that's cool," Kaitlin said somewhat flatly. She looked to Jim and grinned broadly again. "You know you guys can come hang out for a while. Just can't stay overnight."
"Um, thanks for the offer…" Jim stammered.
"Our friend is expecting us, sorry," Mark said with a shrug.
"Yeah, sorry, maybe another time," Jim had no idea why he said that.
Kaitlin beamed at Jim, then told Larissa she'd see her inside, glancing over her shoulder and Jim several times as she walked up to her door.
"Why was she so happy, I just blew her off," Jim wondered aloud.
"You said 'maybe another time', in her mind that's you practically asking her out." Larissa said with a smirk while climbing out of the car. "Thanks for the ride."
"Say hey to Posh and Ginger for me," Mark shouted, laughing when Larissa rolled her eyes. He put the car into gear and took off.
A few turns later, Jim looked around the neighborhood and frowned. "You know where Mack's place is, right?"
"Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you, there was a change of plans," Mark said with an self-satisfied grin.
A sign for the country club came and went Jim snapped his head to Mark. "Why are we going to Glenmara?"
Mark smirked, "Because some rich kid with out-of-town parents is throwing a massive party." Jim's one visible brow was raised in worry and Mark patted him on the shoulder, "Don't worry, I'll get you home to mommy by midnight."
Jim watched the homes become progressively larger and further apart. "Who are we gonna know at this party?" He hardly wanted to go to Ethan Mackenzie's to start with but Mack was a teammate and Jim figured the crowd would be familiar.
"Well, Mack for one, he told me about it. But I think the host goes to Bishop O'Hara." Mark lifted his hand and crossed his fingers, "Here's hoping some of the O'Hara cheer squad is there."
Parked Cars now lined both sides of the road and Jim spotted several costumed groups making their way up the sidewalk. Mark slowly passed the house and Jim's eyes widened at the size of the place, hugh porch, a large double front door, and he was pretty sure there was a chandelier in the two-storied entryway. A few houses down, Mark finally found a space to park and climbed out of the car. "All righty then! You ready, Halpert?"
"I guess I better be," Jim mumbled as he straightened out his mask.