Mr. Jenkins’ Maze
Even at just twelve, the boys of Chester Lane knew they had something special. John, Ben, James, Rick, Tim, and Kevin were all neighbors, and their companionship was basically preordained since they were all the same age.
Halloween was their absolute favorite day. They loved coming up with matching costumes; working together to forge a new theme each year. Proud parents watched as they cobbled together costumes with youthful delight.
Of course this was all for the big day – they would mount a coordinated attack on the neighborhood’s candy. The boys hit every house with a light on, jamming fistfuls of candy into pillow cases. One house in particular was a favorite – Mr. Jenkins, a kindly old man whose wife had passed away before the boys were born – always went all-out.
Jenkins prepared a huge maze in his front yard each year, and kids came from all surrounding neighborhoods to take part. It was truly a sight to behold; six foot walls bore fake brick patterns. Decorative cob webs were strewn about, and a thick coat of fog carpeted the hallways within. Strobe lights were positioned to add extra spookiness, and the entrance was guarded by a pair of mannequins, which Jenkins dressed up differently every year. Best of all, Jenkins always promised an extra treat for the first to finish the maze.
The boys approached Jenkins’ house with eagerness and excitement – ready to get in and see what the old man had in store this year. They’d gone with a pirate theme, and each wore a combination of scarves, shredded t-shirts, fake eyepatches, and beards made of yarn. Jenkins laughed in delight at their ensemble, calling them a “real motley crew”. One by one they entered the maze.
They had a blast, and with smiles the boys stumbled out on the other side and approached Jenkins, who proffered a heaping bowl of sweet treats. They each took a handful, and only then did they notice that they were just four, instead of six. Had Ben and Tim not finished the maze yet?
Jenkins chuckled, saying that the absent boys finished before the rest of them. Since they’d exited together, Jenkins had split the prize between them and they’d run off to show their parents what they’d won.
Though the boys looked everywhere after leaving Jenkins’ house, Ben and Tim were nowhere to be found. The parents searched the neighborhood from top to bottom, and eventually the police were called. Still, the boys were not found. After more than a month the search was finally called off.
The gang was never the same after that. The disappearance of two left them reduced to just four, and the gap was an open wound among them. As time passed, however, they slowly began to heal; to move on. Things were starting to get back to normal. That was, until Jenkins began putting up his maze the following year.
The two mannequins which guarded the maze’s entrance now wore very familiar pirate costumes.