Full Moon Friday Night Lights — Halloween for Henry, Day 9
October 9 was a Friday, and there was going to be full moon that night, both of which made Henry Garber nervous.
Not that he was superstitious — OK, he might have been a little superstitious — but they were deep enough into the month that a full moon on Friday night made him think of werewolves and vampires and all sorts of even less cuddly creatures of the night.
Friday also happened to be Senior Day for the football players, cheerleaders, and band members at the high school. Not that that mattered much to Henry, but it did mean that all of the students in the Glenn Hollow school district were encouraged to wear school colors that day and to attend the last home football game that night.
Henry was happy to oblige the prevailing school spirit, and he showed up in his best Glenn Hollow sweatshirt, along with orange and black wristbands to show his pride, and his spirit of the season.
By the time the game kicked off at 7 pm and the pale moon began to rise over the color-laden fall horizon, though, Henry would be tucked away safely in his room, either reading a book or maybe playing a video game.
No way was he going to tempt the Halloween fates by frolicking under the full lunar light.
Even so, the nagging dread that he felt about the coming darkness chewed at him all day, and when Principal Orton walked through the fifth-grade classroom door, Henry’s stomach flip-flopped like a gymnast after a trip to Starbucks.
Mrs. Foster had just asked the students to put away their math books and pull out their history books, and she looked surprised to see her boss standing in front of her.
“Why, good afternoon, Mr. Orton!” She recovered her composure quickly. “To what do we owe this pleasure?”
Mr. Orton nodded to Mrs. Foster and then said, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Foster. Actually, I need to speak to one of your students.”
Henry’s heart joined his stomach in its acrobatics routine and slunk down in his seat. He wasn’t sure why, but he just knew Mr. Orton was going to call him out.
As if cued by Henry’s pounding pulse, Mr. Orton turned toward the class and extended a hand in Henry’s direction.
“Mr. Garber … will you please come with me for a moment?” the principal asked.
Henry’s face flushed, and his classmates unleashed a flood of catcalls.
“Oooooo! Henry’s in trouble!” one cried out.
“What did you do now Dorian!!” another called, using Henry’s embarrassing real first name.
“Say goodbye to Mr. Garber!” a girl teased from the side of the room.
Mrs. Foster held up her hands to shush her students. “Class, please!”
Henry stood and followed Mr. Orton into the hallway, where the principal closed the door. As Mr. Orton began to speak, Henry could still hear his classmates whispering.
Mr. Orton cleared his throat. “Now, Henry, it’s come to my attention that you made quite a play at the football game the other night.”
Henry was confused for a beat, and then remembered his spectacular catch to end the last game of the season for his Pop Warner football team on Tuesday night. It had been a subject of occasional conversation since, and Henry was too embarrassed to tell anyone that he had been imagining a pumpkin flying through the air and had just wanted to save it from crashing to the ground.
“I guess so,” Henry replied.
“Well,” Mr. Orton continued, “I hear it was pretty awesome. In fact, your play ALSO came to the attention of the middle school and high school coaches, thanks to Coach Jackson.”
Henry wasn’t sure where Mr. Orton was headed, but he started to calm down a bit.
“You made SUCH an impact, that Coach Jackson recommended you be named the Pop Warner Player of the Week for Glenn Hollow Elementary School, and the other coaches agreed.”
Unbelievably, Mr. Orton grabbed Henry’s hand and pumped it up and down in a hearty, bone-rattling handshake.
The principal broke into a broad smile. “Congratulations, Henry! I’m very proud of you!”
Henry was fire-engine red by this point, and unprepared for what came next.
“Now, as part of this award, the coaches would like to recognize you as part of the Senior Night festivities during this evening’s football game.” Mr. Orton was beaming.
“Uh … tonight?” Henry gasped.
“Yes, Henry, tonight!” Mr. Orton enthused. “Halftime should be at about 8 pm. Can you be there?”
Henry envisioned standing on the field, hearing an ominous growl to his left, then turning just in time to see a hungry werewolf bearing down on him and dragging him into the darkness. Out of the sight of the adoring crowd, Cujo and Dracula would make short work of his tender corpse.
In an instant, the boy went sheet white, because he knew what he had to do.
“Yes, sir. I’ll be there,” he answered meekly. “Thank you, sir.”
“Great!” Mr. Orton exclaimed. He turned and walked down the hall toward his office, calling back, “See you tonight, Henry!”
And as the principal disappeared around a corner, Henry was sure that he heard a howl.