Chapter 6: Dressing Up
What are you going to be for Halloween? Joey asked.
Don’t you think that’s a little rude? Amarea said as she glanced at Maddie.
Why? Joey walked beside Amarea with his arm around Maddie. You still didn’t answer my question.
I think I’ve had enough dressing up for a while. Amarea rolled her eyes and smiled. Are you planning on dressing up? Amarea asked.
Yeah, I’m going to help my aunt out at her haunted house, Joey replied.
Your parents are only children, Amarea said.
How do you know that? Joey asked. He shook his head, never mind. Anyway, she’s my mom’s dad’s brother’s daughter.
Your mom’s cousin? Amarea asked.
Something like that, Joey sighed. She’s always been my Aunt Judy. Every year she has an awesome haunted house, and this year I plan on helping her with it.
Joey and Maddie quit walking. They had reached the bus parking lot. Joey turned and kissed Maddie.
Amarea covered her eyes and yelled, PDA! PDA! PDA! Public Display of Affection!!! STOP!!!
Joey pulled away from Maddie. He swatted her on the behind as she walked away.
That wasn’t necessary, Amarea said.
Jealous? Joey smiled.
Whatever, Amarea replied.
Amarea turned to walk towards the circle. Joey swatted her on the behind. She yelped and blushed a deep shade of red.
That wasn’t necessary, Amarea cried out.
Yes, it was, he smiled and put his arm around her as they walked to the circle.
Doesn’t Maddie mind? Amarea asked.
No, Joey stated, she knows we’re just friends. So do you want to help out at the haunted house?
I guess, what would I do? Amarea asked.
I’m sure Aunt Judy would find something for you to do, Joey smiled. It opens on Thursday.
What about Maddie? Amarea asked.
She’s not into haunted houses, Joey replied.
Ok. Amarea jumped when she heard the horn honk. “I’ll talk to you about it later,” she said.
“Bye, Mar,” Joey said as he bent down and kissed her. He pulled back quickly shocked at what he had done.
Amarea laughed, “Bye Joseph.”
“What was that all about?” Mrs. Dustin said when she got in the car. “Did he just kiss you?”
“Yup,” Amarea replied as butterflies churned in her stomach, “I think he had me confused with someone else.”
The phone was ringing when Amarea got home.
“Hello?” she said.
“Um, Amarea?” Joey asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Why didn’t you answer your cell phone?” Joey asked.
“It’s dead,” Amarea replied.
“Oh,” Joey stumbled, “I just um wanted to um apologize for earlier.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she assured.
“I talked to Aunt Judy and she said that you should wear all black if you want to help out,” he said.
“All black,” she questioned.
“She says she has a job for you behind the scenes,” he said.
“Ok,” she answered.
“Um, I’m going over there at seven to help set up. Do you want to go along?” he asked tentatively.
“Sure,” she replied, “pick me up at seven.”
Aunt Judy’s garage was packed full of stuff. When Joey picked her up, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
I don’t think this is going to be an easy process, Amarea said.
Why do you say that? Joey asked.
Look at all this stuff! Amarea exclaimed.
Several other kids were milling around.
Who are they? Amarea asked.
Joey shrugged. Aunt Judy used to teach Home Econ. She retired last year. I’m sure they’re some of her students.
Where is she? Amarea asked.
I’m not sure, Joey replied.
“Pizza! Who wants pizza?” called a voice from the house. Aunt Judy came out carrying at least a dozen pizzas.
She’s going to feed us? Amarea asked.
Looks like it! Joey replied.
“Joey,” Aunt Judy called, “Come get some pizza! Bring your little friend with you.”
Little friend? Amarea asked.
You are kind of small, Joey replied. He grabbed her hand and pulled her along.
Shut up, Amarea said. She let Joey pull her towards his aunt.
Aunt Judy gave Joey a big hug. “It’s been too long,” she said. She turned her focus toward Amarea, “Who’s your beautiful friend?”
Amarea blushed. She extended her hand for Aunt Judy to shake.
“What nonsense,” Aunt Judy said, embracing Amarea. “Eat up child! You’re way too thin!” She pushed a piece of pizza into Amarea’s hand.
Within an hour, the garage was emptied. The front yard was a grave yard. A maze, constructed with 2x4s and thick stretchy black fabric, wound around the house.
This is kind of cool, Amarea admitted.
Isn’t it? Joey smiled.
By 9:30 the project was completed. “Cookie time,” Aunt Judy announced.
“Yes!” several kids replied.
Aunt Judy’s kitchen was not what Amarea had expected. She couldn’t have expected anyone’s kitchen to look like this! It was enormous, easily taking up half of the house. There were several workstations, all with shiny, well used appliances. There were four huge sinks lining the far wall. Three massive refrigerators lined the other wall. A walk-in pantry, the size of Amarea’s bedroom, was off to the left.
WOW! Amarea exclaimed.
Pretty amazing, huh? Joey shrugged and nodded.
How many ovens does she have? Amarea asked.
Three double ovens and two convection ovens behind that table over there. Joey pointed to a long marble table.
All this stuff! Amarea exclaimed.
Pretty amazing, huh? Joey shrugged and nodded again.
I don’t see a microwave, Amarea noticed.
Yup, Aunt Judy doesn’t believe in them, Joey replied.
Huh? Amarea asked. She doesn’t think they exist?
Joey laughed. He threw Amarea a flowery apron and put one on himself. Amarea started to giggle, but quickly stopped when she noticed everyone was wearing a flowery apron.
Aunt Judy placed a well-worn box on one of the tables.
“Go,” she yelled. Soon the kitchen buzzed with action. Kids scrambled to the table. The box was overturned, and recipe cards spilled out. Kids looked quickly, found ones they liked, and grabbed them.
Joey and Amarea managed to grab a simple strawberry cookie recipe. It took them several minutes to find what they needed from the pantry. There were a lot of kids in there, but no one was pushing, and everyone was helping each other. Aunt Judy was busy supervising each group.
“Wait a minute,” Amarea mused aloud, “She made all those pizzas from scratch.”
“You just realized that?” Joey laughed.
“She’s amazing,” Amarea replied.
“Try these,” Aunt Judy said, shoving a cookie in Amarea’s mouth.
Amarea’s mouth exploded with taste.
“Cayenne pepper and chocolate,” Aunt Judy said as she shoved a cookie in Joey’s mouth.
“Wow!” They both mumbled.
Forty minutes later, Amarea was positive her stomach was going to explode!
“Clean up time,” Aunt Judy announced. No one groaned or complained. Within minutes the kitchen was spotless; not a crumb remained.
“Home again, home again,” Aunt Judy said. The aprons were piled in a laundry basket. A young man carried the basket over to a small washer/dryer unit in the corner. Amarea stood in amazement as he began the load of laundry. Aunt Judy hugged each of the kids as they left. The young man stayed behind.
“Night, Chris,” Aunt Judy said as she watched him disappear through one of the side doors.
A questioned look appeared on Amarea’s face. “Is that Chris Jacobs?” she asked.
Joey just nodded.
“He just needs a place to be for a while,” Aunt Judy said.
Joey simply nodded again. Amarea jumped when the car horn honked.
“You’re always welcome here,” Aunt Judy said hugging Amarea. Amarea knew without a doubt that this was a true statement.