Read Kevin Wetmore’s ‘Halloween Returns’ Contest Winning Story “Ben Tramer’s Not Going to Homecoming!”
For those of you who somehow missed it, we recently ran an awesome “Halloween Returns” fan fiction writing contest. The best story about Michael Myers and Haddonfield, Illinois was chosen as the winner of a feature spot here on HNR in addition to some extra promotion, a chunk of cash and a place in the free anthology ebook we released, which you can download right here.
The winner was Kevin Wetmore, who delivered a story that had me on the edge of my seat, eager to get to exploring a neglected fan favorite character and the events he himself endured on Halloween night.
While there were a number of excellent stories submitted, this was the one that really hit me in the heart. It’s the one that resonated far more than the other standouts, which themselves really lingered in my mind.
It was an excellent contest, and Wetmore should tote a wealth of pride in having beaten a good number of top notch stories. The competition was fierce for this particular contest, no two ways about it. So congrats to Kevin who defied all odds with his slick story “Ben Tramer’s Not Going to Homecoming.”
As promised, here is the story in its entirety. It’s bad ass, it’s unique and it’s a read that makes for an absolutely pitch-perfect addition to the Halloween day!
Ben Tramer’s Not Going to Homecoming
Haddonfield, Illinois, Friday, October 31, 1978, 6:45 pm
“Bennett Samuel Tramer! This is the third and final time I ask you to take out the trash!” His mother’s voice flooded up the stairs like a raging river, the sharp rasp from her years of smoking making it grate on his ears, cutting through the sounds of E.L.O.’s “Turn to Stone” on the headphones of his turntable. “If you don’t take it out now you will be grounded for the rest of the weekend, mister!”
Pulling the headphones off, he stared at the ceiling. “All right, already!” he called back down. “Jeez, give a guy a chance to do it.”
It’s not like it mattered if he was grounded. All of his friends had dates for the homecoming dance and he did not. “Ben Tramer’s not going to homecoming. Again,” he thought. You know what made it worse? He just hated it when she used his middle name, which was happening more and more lately. Everything just sucked right now. His mom was riding him about chores, school, how much time he spent at work. He was making good money at Brennan’s Garage, and learning practical stuff, unlike school. But every night it was, “Did you finish your homework?”
Then back in August the sheriff had busted Mike, Paul and him for drinking. He got driven home in a cop car. So what? Nobody got hurt, but because the neighbors saw it she gave him holy hell about it. So he had a few beers. So what? All the kids do it. But now she rode him all the time. He was getting sick of hearing his middle name.
Ben dragged himself off the bed, put on his glasses, hit the off button on his stereo and saw the turntable slow, the needle still on it, as he slapped his hand against the poster of Farrah Fawcett in her red bathing suit, smiling just for him as her curls dropped down over her shoulder, head rolling back with a look that said, “Hey, Ben, why don’t you come over here and lay down next to me.” He always hit it for luck with girls on the way out of his room. He bounded out his bedroom door and down the stairs grumbling to himself, running his hand through his shaggy brown hair.
Coming up the other way was Missy, his kid sister. The only thing worse in the house than his mother.
“Ben’s in trouble” she sang at him. He allowed himself to time his steps on the stairs so he bumped into her on the way down. “Moooommm,” she cried out. “Ben just tried to push me down the stairs.”
“Just get ready for trick or treating, Missy. Leave your brother alone,” his mother’s rasp followed up the stairs. She stuck her tongue out at him and said, “I hate you!” Ben smiled.
He found the full trash bag out of the can and waiting by the backdoor, the remains of dinner already starting to smell. He grabbed it one handed, swung the door open a bit too hard (he’d hear about that on the way back in) and took it out to the larger metal can in the breezeway between the house and garage. He lifted the top, threw the bag in the already full can, and dragged it down to the street, holding the lid with one hand and dragging the can with the other.
As he moved down the driveway, coming down the street was a real squaremobile, a station wagon with wood paneling. Some kind of logo on the side – a white circle and he could just make out the words “For Official Use Only” under the logo as the car sped past him, passing within inches of the garbage can as he set it down in front of the curb. Ben gave the driver the finger and called him an asshole.
The car slammed on its brakes, the red lights angry and the reflection of that light pulsing in the wood paneling of the back gate. The car idled there, twenty feet away, the small plumes of exhaust coming from the tailpipe.
“What’s this guy’s problem?” Ben wondered. “I mean he almost hit me.”
The car just sat there, the driver invisible in the dusk.
Ben wondered if the guy was going to get out of the car and threaten to kick his ass. Or maybe back up and try to hit him or the garbage can. He knew some kids who would do stuff like that.
The car sat there, the brake lights hypnotically staring at him for a long lingering second, and then it moved on.
“Jeez,” Ben said to himself before realizing how much his heart was pounding. Kids lived on Market Street, this guy should be more careful.
“What did I say about slamming the door?” He was not even back in the house and his mother was again on his case. “Bennet Samuel Tramer, I swear it all goes in one ear and out the other.”
“Be-en! Pho-one!” Missy made all one syllable words into multiple syllable words when she wanted to annoy him.
“Sorry, mom – phone,” he said by way of both apology and escape and ran to the upstairs extension where Missy stood holding the phone in her princess costume.
“It’s a girl!” she squealed with delight.
“Thanks, squirt, now get lost,” he said, taking the receiver from her and pulling off her tiara and throwing it down the hall. “MOOOOM! Ben threw my crown!”
Ben rolled his eyes and put the phone to his ear. “Hello?”
“Ben? This is Annie Brackett. Hey, are you already going to Homecoming by any chance?”
Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God.
His heart was pounding more than it was with the freak in the station wagon. He was going to Homecoming. He lay on his bed listening to Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy” going over the conversation with Annie in his head again and again and again. He had a crush on Marie Krish since ninth grade when she came back from summer break and suddenly made him feel stupid all the time with how hot she was. But she didn’t have the time of day for him.
Annie said Laurie Strode liked him. Laurie Strode. I mean she was smart, but she was pretty and even though she dressed kind of preppie underneath all those layers he bet she had a killer bod. Plus, she hung out with Annie, who had been going with Paul for over a year and Paul said she was a freak in bed, and Sue Snell, who had been dating Bob Simms, and Bob had said she was a real easy lay. So if her friends were like that, Ben had to assume he was going to get laid tomorrow night.
“Sorry, Farrah,” he told the poster. “Looks like Laurie Strode is going to get the pleasure of doing the deed with Ben Tramer first.”
Smiling, he let his eyes drift to the clock. 7:30. Holy shit! He was going to be late to meet Mike. He and Mike Godfrey had said they were going to hang out and drink tonight. On top of everything else, the state of Illinois sucked. The drinking age for beer was 19, but Ben was only 17. Mike, however, had just turned 19, having stayed back a year in elementary school. Ben had given him five bucks so they could split a twelve pack of Schlitz. They were going to meet at 8:00 at Mike’s house and get the party going.
OK, it was a last minute plan, just like Homecoming with Laurie Strode. That’s kind of how Ben’s life worked, he realized. At the last minute things just happened to him. He had good luck. When Mike said they should drink tonight and then raise some hell before Homecoming, Ben gave him the five and then after school went to Nichols Hardware just before they closed and bought a generic “Fright Mask” (that’s what the label said) – a white, expressionless face with eyeholes cut out. It also had blonde hair combed back. Ben combed it up into a punk hairstyle to make it extra freaky.
He didn’t know what else to wear and looked around his room.
His coveralls! He worked weekends and two afternoons a week at Brennan’s Garage, changing oil, changing tires, helping repair engines, just everyday stuff around the garage. He wore black coveralls over his clothes to keep them clean. (That was another reason to be annoyed with his mother – she did not understand why he took AP classes and wrote for the school paper but still wanted to work in a garage. “It’s so common,” she complained, again concerned about what her friends would think. Ben didn’t give a shit what her friends thought. He liked music, books, girls and cars. You can be a braniac and still work with your hands. (God, she could be so superficial!) The coveralls were stained with oil which Ben figured would look like bloodstains under the streetlights. He pulled them on over his clothes and grabbed the mask and his wallet. He was gonna scare the crap out of little kids trick or treating tonight.
Hitting Farrah on the way out of the room (gonna need that luck tomorrow night, Benny-Boy!), he rode a tidal wave down the stairs, shouting “ByeMomandDadI’mgoingovertoMike’s.”
“Be home by midnight and you better not be drunk,” his mother’s voice followed him out to the curb where his car sat parked. No sign of that creep station wagon from earlier.
Ben got in, turned the key, the engine turned, and off he went.
“Laurie Strode, huh?” Mike took a long pull from the can, draining it and then crushing it and then throwing it towards the plastic garbage can in the corner of the basement rec room. He missed, and it joined two others on the floor nearby. He opened another and continued to flip absentmindedly through a Playboy. His costume was a KISS concert t-shirt and a half-assed attempt at KISS makeup.
“Yup. Annie swears up and down she is into me. I am totally getting laid tomorrow night.” Ben lifted up his can of Schlitz (his third for the night), toasting the prospect, and drained it.
“Cocksucker, you’re going to be a virgin until you’re thirty,” Mike razzed, opening up another can.
The two of them sat there drinking, the television in the background showed a black and white picture of a group of men standing in a circle in the show, outlining something that lay beneath. To be honest, it was just on for background noise.
“What makes you think Laurie the Librarian would ever give it up for you? She’s as straight-laced as they come. You think she’s going to bang anything other than a book?” Mike belched to show his contempt. “‘sides, I thought you were all about Marie Krish. You kept talking about how you were going to bang her like a screen door in a tornado. What happened?”
“Love the one you’re with,” Ben sang, raising his beer again. “Krish doesn’t know what she is missing, and Laurie is warm for my form. So she gets the prize.”
“Yeah, the booby prize,” Mike laughed.
“Fuck you,” said Ben with nothing behind it. “You’re just jealous that it’s me she’s lusting after.” He took another swig. Then another. “I hope it’s the Booby prize,” he leered. “I bet she has nice tits.”
“You’ll never know because Laurie the Librarian hides them behind sweaters and books and you’re never going to see or touch them. And while you’re pulling your pud and crying tomorrow night, here’s who I’m going to bang at Homecoming,” and he flipped the magazine open in one deft movement, so that the centerfold opened up across the table, Marcy Hanson smiling up at Ben in a manner that would even make Farrah blush. Her yellow sweater may have been tied around her shoulder, but all Ben could focus on was the clear plastic miniskirt that left nothing to the imagination. “Miss October, meet Mike, Jr.” he proudly announced.
Ben was fascinated but also kind of scared. He had never gone further than second base and that was last year with Becky Buntner in a closet during “Seven Minutes in Heaven” at a party at Sue Snell’s house. Becky never talked to him again after that, not that she talked to him before that either. Their names had just been pulled out of the hat together.
He knew the girls and other kids thought of him as quiet. He knew a lot of the girls didn’t notice him because he wasn’t all flashy. Still, if he could be like them the way he was around Mike and Paul and they guys, they’d see he was funny and cool. He wondered what it would be like to be with Laurie. Would she look like Miss October with all her clothes off? Would she have that come hither look on her face? God, where were they going to do it? The back of his Dodge Duster? No way. He had better find a party they could go to afterwards. He’d also have to get some condoms. Maybe later he’d ask Mike if he could borrow one. He found himself growing drunkenly aroused thinking about it.
“Fuck it, man, let’s go to a bar,” he said to Mike, standing up a bit too fast.
“What’s your problem?”
“We’re sitting in your basement, drinking cheap beer, wearing shitty costumes watching a stupid movie on TV while you get hard looking at a woman you’re never gonna meet in some shitty magazine. It’s Halloween. Let’s go out.”
Mike considered then nodded. Ben had a point. “What about the rest of the beer?” he asked.
Ben went over to the couch, picked up a pillow, pulled off the case and threw the rest of the beers in it. “Trick or treat?” he asked Mike with a drunken grin.
“Dude, you’re a fucking genius.”
As they walked through the spaces in between houses taking a shortcut to the bar, Ben looked over and saw a man standing on the sidewalk, staring at a house. Somewhere in his drunken brain, Ben had a thought.
“Holy shit,” he said to Mike, grabbing his arm, “That asshole has the same costume that I do!”
It was true. The tall man wore the same (or very similar) “Fright Mask” and dark coveralls. He stood, unmoving, staring at the well-lit house on the block, his arms hanging by his side. He could have been a statue. Kids were walking past on the other sidewalk, but he paid no attention to any of the passersby. Just the house. He stood, staring.
Suddenly and paradoxically slowly, his head turned deliberately towards them and cocked to one side as the man stared at Ben and Mike.
“Happy Halloween, asshole!” Mike yelled at him.
“Knock it off, man,” Ben said, swinging the bag of cans at him. “Weird guy gives me the creeps. He’s older than us, man – why is he out trick or treating?”
“Are you scared?” Mike teased. “It’s probably just some guy waiting for his kids to come back down from the house. He put on the same lame, cheapo costume you did so as to be ‘scary dad’ for Halloween. Now do you wanna get to the bar or should we outfit you for a training bra, you girl?”
Ben looked back. The man was gone. Ben looked up and down the street. The man didn’t walk away. He was just gone.
“Whoa,” he drunkenly slurred. He simultaneously realized how tipsy he was and that Mike was right. Just some guy in a costume. He had other things to think about, like how he was going to score with Laurie Strode tomorrow night. I mean Annie said she was interested in him, right? That meant she wanted him.
They emerged out of the neighborhood onto the main drag. Mulligan’s was two blocks down and they could already hear the Halloween party going on inside.
“Shit, what time is it?” Ben asked Mike.
“Time to go drinking. Why?”
“Because I have to be home by midnight, man.”
“You gonna turn into a pumpkin if you’re not home then? Don’t let that happen tonight. Some guy with a knife will turn you into a jack-o-lantern,” Mike giggled.
“No, man, my old lady has been giving me a lot of grief. She’s going to ground me if I’m late or really drunk or both I guess. So I should really only have one beer here.”
Mike turned and looked him in the eye. “When did you become such a pussy? You get one date with a librarian and it’s like you became a chick, man. C’mon.”
They entered into Mulligan’s and it seemed like half of the high school senior class was there. Marie Krish was in a corner and Ben did not even notice her. Mike pushed his way through the crowd, past a pirate, a pussy cat, a ghost, two gypsies, a vampire, and the kicker from the football team wearing a t-shirt that read, “This is my costume,” in order to get to the bar and get two beers. Ben hung back on account of being under age and not wanting to get sucked into the party and staying too late. Mike pushed back through the crowd and met him near the payphone.
“This place is out of control,” said Ben.
“You’re the one who wanted to come, dipshit,” Mike countered.
“True,” said Ben, and they clinked their bottles together and drank.
“God, there are so many hot chicks in here.” Mike’s head was on a swivel, taking it all in. “There’s something about tail in costume that just makes them hotter, you know?”
“Yeah,” replied Ben absentmindedly. “What do you think she’s doing right now?”
“Jeez, let it go, Ben. Besides, you told me Annie said she was babysitting tonight.”
“Oh, shit. Yeah.” Ben laughed.
The jukebox closed out on the final notes of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” before the opening guitar licks of Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil” sent the crowd into a frenzy. Ben and Mike made eye contact, smiled, and started screaming along with David Lee Roth along with the rest of the crowd.
Ben had lost track of time, but knew it had to be late. He told Mike he had to go. Mike told him to head out by his lonesome, because he had “an eye thing” going with one of the gypsies, the brunette to be precise, and he wanted to see if she really could see the future, or would the size of his manhood be a surprise to her. Ben laughed, rolled his eyes and stumbled out into the street.
He was still clutching the pillowcase with the leftover beers in it. He knew it was around ten. He knew he was very drunk. And he knew if he walked home now, he could sober up enough to get past his mother just before midnight and rescue Laurie Strode from a life of a librarian tomorrow night. It was a good plan. Ben was lucky.
Hell, he could even trick or treat on the way home, get some candy. He pulled on the Fright Mask outside the bar. His head was already spinning and the eyeholes in the mask made it even more challenging to walk straight, but who cares. It’s Halloween, he was going to Homecoming the next day, and he had had a great night. It was his right to celebrate with his friend and some beers. His mother could sit on an egg. The image made him giggle under the mask.
A handful of kids were still out trick or treating as he left the main drag and walked back into the residential streets. A few who heard him giggle and turned and saw him in his mask and coveralls walked a little more quickly away from him.
“Wow, this really is a fright mask!” Ben thought. “Cool.” He let himself walk even more menacingly than his intoxication was already allowing. It was Halloween. Why not give the kids a good fright, right?
He was swaying towards a group of kids in costumes standing in front of a fence. “I’m like a cool Frankenstein,” he thought. Beyond them he suddenly noticed the flashing lights of a cop car at the stop sign.
Two men jumped out of the car and were looking right at him.
“Is that him?” yelled one. Somewhere in the haze Ben realized it was Sherriff Brackett. Shit – the sheriff had busted him for drinking two months ago. He didn’t want to get arrested again. Not for public drunkenness. Not when he had a date with Laurie Strode. He could not get grounded right now.
He did not recognize the other one, who was smaller, in a trench coat, and who cried out, “I don’t know” in an accent that some part of his brain told Ben was British.
Another part of his brain told Ben to turn and run. Or turn and walk away because running was not an option right now. Ben turned and began to walk away just as the two men broke into a run towards him.
Ben turned to go across the street, but kept his eye on the two men for signs they were catching up. Was that a gun?
He heard the car before he saw it. As he turned towards the noise, time slowed down even more so, impossibly more so. He saw the light bar, flashing blue and red on top of the police car as it bore down on him at great speed from five feet away. He saw four headlights, two over, two under shining bright in his eyes. He saw the grill, not at all looking like a grin, but rather a grim metal cage about to make contact with him.
Then he was flying. He felt no pain or at least the pain did not register, but he realized at some point he was being pushed by the car grill backwards through the air, his head hitting and bouncing off the hood of the car. Then he was thrown back against something hard, his arms spread wide and the back of his head impacting hard against the wall or whatever it was.
“I look like a crucifix,” he thought and giggled in his mind. Then, “Hey, I’m still holding on to my beer. Cool!” He didn’t fall; he was pinned in between the car that hit him and whatever was behind him.
Then he was warm, no – impossibly hot. He didn’t feel any pain. But he couldn’t see anything either. The mask was already melting to his face.
Through the flames he heard a voice yell, “Is it him? Is it HIM? IS IT HIM OR NOT?”
“Yes,” thought Ben as he began to fade. “It’s me. I’m going to Homecoming with Laurie Strode and I’m going to get laid.”
I have already read this and am slowly making my way through the others…Chad Lutzke has an excellent tale also read by me. But Cheers to Ben Tramer for this story … It definitely worked quite well.