I looked down at the pumpkin in my hands, and then at all the others, and I almost fainted. But my heart was pounding, because it knew she was here, somewhere.

I don't know exactly what happened next. I think I went crazy for a while.

I dropped the pumpkin I was holding and ran around picking up pumpkins and whispering, "Mary?" But none of them answered me.

I probably would have continued in my feverish search forever, if Shadow hadn't tackled me to the ground.

"George, old pal, snap out of it. I think we found her!"

Even with my eyes closed, lying face down on the ground, all I could see was orange pumpkins.

"We did?" I gasped, as his words slowly penetrated through the pumpkin patch in my brain.

Shadow helped me up, and we saw an old lady pushing a shopping cart. A small boy in a beanie cap with little propellers on it walked beside her, licking a 3-foot lollipop, shaped like a pumpkin, of course. In his other hand he dragged a string, which was attached to...it was one of the other-Shadows, and he was gagged and all tied up in the string, dragging along the ground behind the kid.

In the cart was a pumpkin, and my heart screamed out, "MARY!"

Shadow whispered, "Shhh," and pointed under the cart, where another-George was all tied up and gagged with an apple in his mouth.

"I'm off to make our Thanksgiving dinner," the old lady was singing as she rolled the cart over piles of pumpkins.

I ran after her, trying to keep my balance, as if I were in a contest on a river of logs.

"Excuse me, Ma'am," I coughed, and stood in front of the cart.

She kept going, and I fell through the pile and was soon covered with pumpkins.

I climbed out, and chased after her again.

"Leave Grandma alone," the beanied-kid yelled, and he waved his pumpkin pop viciously at me. I suddenly recognized that wicked little smile -- it was the Magician Kid that had tried to take my ring a long time ago! I tried to smile, but I was shaking like crazy.

I turned to the old lady instead -- she'd be more my speed. "I think there's been a mistake, here," I stammered. "You see, that's my pumpkin, and that's me under the cart. And your grandson is dragging my friend Shadow there on his string."

"HEY!" the kid growled. "This is my pet. I found him, and Grandma said I could keep him. Didn't you, Grandma."

"But..." I protested.

Grandma waved her umbrella at me as the kid started sniffling. "Scram, you. This is our Thanksgiving dinner. Here's my receipt," she snapped, holding up an orange pumpkin- shaped piece of paper.

"I already caught one pumpkin rustler here," she continued, kicking the other-George under the cart. "I'm bringing him in to Security, now."

"But there are so many other pumpkins here, why do you need that one?" I pleaded. "She's a woman trapped inside a pumpkin shell, you see...It's not really a pumpkin at all..."

The old lady rolled her eyes and readied her umbrella. "Now, what do you take me for, an idiot?"

While I pleaded with the old lady and her grandson, Shadow sneaked over and untied the other-George, and cut the other- Shadow free. I watched out of the corner of my eye as they grabbed my beloved pumpkin.

"Run for it, George," my-Shadow yelled.

I turned, but the old lady was faster. She grabbed me with the handle of her umbrella, and the little kid tied me up with the rest of the rope that he had had the other-Shadow trapped in.

"I'm taking you right to Security," the old lady muttered as they threw me, tied up, into the cart.

Security happened to be a 6-foot-tall gentleman with a jack- o-lantern head, and a pumpkin colored cap.

"Did you take her pumpkin?" the security pumpkin asked me after the old lady had explained her case.

"Uh...Well, you see..."

"Gonna have to take you to the Judge!" the guard grumbled.

He turned to the old lady. "I'll have someone go and fetch you a new pumpkin, Ma'am. And here's some free coupons. Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for shopping your friendly neighborhood Pumpkin-Mart."

The old lady seemed happy enough. "Now you," the pumpkin guard growled as he turned to me. He gave me a good scary Jack- o-lantern look, and dragged me by the ear through the pumpkin patch and up an escalator, leaving the pumpkins far below.

The guard took me to the High Council, which resided up in some orange clouds. The judge was a rather overripe Jack-o- lantern with a very stern expression.

I looked over at the jury, which sat fidgeting with their pumpkin lids. The Judge coughed and the jury's Jack-o-lantern lights dimmed a little. "Guilty, guilty," the members of the jury whispered quietly.

"So, now, you were in love with this pumpkin, is that your story?" the Judge snickered, turning back to me.

"Uh, yes, your Pumpkinness. I only wish to be with my true love."

"I'm sorry, but I just find that hard to believe. Not that the Court is against intermarriages, or anything like that, you understand. My second cousin married a squash, you know, and their children are all delightful, but those pumpkins at the Pumpkin Mart aren't alive. They're just little sculptures we Pumpkin-folk doodle in our spare time, and sell to certain species that use them in pies on special occasions. I'm afraid your story is a little too outlandish for this Court. I have no choice but to find you guilty as charged. Does the jury agree?" the Judge concluded, turning to the grumbling Halloween rejects who were mindlessly bouncing on their bulbous orange rinds.

"GUILTY...GUILTY..." they chanted, louder now and they held up signs with that deafening word blazing in scarlet letters. And the skies were filled with ominous clouds that dripped with venom.

I felt so lost and alone, and the pain grew and grew, but from deep within a bubble of hope started to emerge. And I could almost see my true love's face smiling at me, telling me it would all be alright.

The Judge grunted in annoyance, leaned forward and popped my dream bubble. Just then the skies opened up and red rain pelted me with stinging drops and I felt like a weed wilting in the storm.

Fortunately I didn't have to wait around for my final sentencing, because just then Shadow appeared out of nowhere, and my spirits were revived and I snapped out of my funk. He tossed me my YODELcap, and we both flipped our glasses down and disappeared.

The court was surprised at first, but then the next defendant, a giant caterpillar, was marched into the room, and we flipped our caps and YODELed out of there.

In our haste to escape the long arm of the law in Pumpkin Land, I think we must have flipped our caps a little too energetically, because we YODELed further than we had ever YODELed before.

One of Those Days
( Chapter 33.14- MP3 song demo by Lyndon DeRobertis)


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