Jack O’Lanterns Want Falafel

Jack O'Lanterns Want Falafel

It was 10 o’clock on Halloween night. The customers of Hank’s Gourmet Falafel were chowing down on some prime falafels. However, three poor souls were unable to enjoy the cuisine of the Middle East.

“This sucks,” said April, the middle-sized jack o’lantern. “All I wanted for Halloween was to eat a falafel before I rotted away. Is that so wrong?”

“I getcha, April,” said the largest of the trio, Mike. “But it’s not like Toy Story where we can just scare ’em into doing our bidding. It’s like the sequel Toy Story movies where we’re confined to keepin’ our mouths shut.”

Lester tried to frown, but couldn’t. His tiny grin was plastered forever on his face. “I’d settle for a scoop of a topping.” The other two agreed.

At 10:15, a customer was chatting to her friend and said,

“Hey, as a joke, what if I put my falafel in this jack o’lantern’s mouth?”

“Totally. That would be hilarious.”

She inched her falafel into the Lester the pumpkin’s carved mouth and…



He disappeared.

“I swear, I thought there was a pumpkin here. Did you take a picture?”

“N-noooo, I missed it, sorry not sorry but actually very sorry.”

April and Mike gaped at one another.

“He’s dead! He vanished!”

“Yeah, I getcha. But y’know, I’d rather die like that than rotting in a compost heap.”

April thought. “Yeah. Me too.”

10:45 came and a careless child dropped his falafel on the linoleum. “BAWWWW!” he wailed. He wailed and wailed until Hank came over.

“Don’t worry, wailing brat. Sir, I’ll make your son another falafel half-off. Is that okay?”

“He’s actually my nephew.”

“Don’t care.”

“What should we do with the one he dropped?”

“Dump it in the big pumpkin’s mouth for all I care.”

Mike grinned. “Guess this is goodbye, April.”

Once the falafel fell into his mouth, he dissolved into a puddle of orange goop.

“WHAT?!” freaked out April. “That didn’t happen to Lester!”

“Bob, clean up that mess. And we’re closing in thirteen minutes!”

April began to worry. If she ate a falafel, would she vanish like Lester or goop like Mike? Should she try a falafel if the time came? Well, she couldn’t very well prevent it from happening, could she? Was this the end for her? Would she try falafel tonight, or go into the compost heap?

“You, pumpkin, No falafel for you.”

What? Did Hank acknowledge her existence? She wasn’t alive per se, but she had thoughts and desires, emotions too. She didn’t want to die, but it was looking like no way out at that point. What if she did eat a falafel? Would something happen to her?

Hank locked up and took April into the back room.

“Anything you want to say to me, April?”

How did he know her name? Was he a pumpkin-whisperer?

“Your friends are fine, if that’s what you’re thinking.” It wasn’t. “Lester’s body and soul have gone to a better place, where falafel is bountiful all the time.” He paused. “Mike was a tainted pumpkin and went to Pumpkin Hell, which is nicer than Human Heaven.”

April was baffled.

Hank unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a jack o’lantern within. “That’s right, I’m a pumpkin, and my magic falafels have sent your chums to the afterlife. But I’m two years old and I need a successor. April, instead of ever eating falafel, will you stay here for two years to guide needy jack o’lanterns to paradise and damnation?”

April was baffled.

“No,” she thought. “Give me a falafel so I can go to my end in peace.”

He did so, and she dissolved into goop, which vanished immediately.

With April gone, Hank let a squash named Barry with no agenda run the falafel shop. It was a much calmer atmosphere in general, but the cucumbers always came out weak, so it closed every other season just to reevaluate the flavor of the cucumbers. Frankly, they were never great, but it was a good marketing strategy, usually.


Ghosts of the Barbershop

Ghosts of the Barbershop

“Your wife?


“And you’re a barber?”

“You know it.”

“Sometimes I wonder. Your wife, and you’re a barber…”

“I cut men’s hair, not… okay, I’m not good with men’s long hair either.”

“So when she saw it, what happened?”

“She divorced me. After six months, no less.”

“It is less, man. If it were, maybe two years…”

“Well I don’t really blame her. She looked like an Asian pop star when I got done with her locks. The nutty kind, not the classy kind.”

“They’re all nutty in Asia, man.”

“Well…” Alex paused.

“What, man?”

“She’s the reason I haven’t passed on yet. I just want to cut a woman’s hair right, once. I know I could do it.”

Kurt levitated a pair of scissors. “Like I don’t know that? I want to cut anyone’s hair using only scissors, but I’m a freakin’ razor guy. It ain’t gonna happen. No one’s been down here since they carted away our bodies in ’11.”

The barbershop was underground, but the only sign of damage to the place was the large block of ceiling that crushed the pair of barbers. Kurt lamented not tipping the contractor.

“We’ve been cutting hair since the mid-2000’s, right?”

“Yeah, man.”

“Who cut the long-haired customers’ hair?”

“Uh… Tony.”

“Oh yeah, good ol’ Tony. He was out with mumps that day.”

“Lucky sunnuva…”

Rattling came from the outside. Someone was tampering with the locks.



A high-pitched voice echoed in the stairwell. “Okay, we’re in the Barbershop of the Damned. Remember, breaking and entering into abandoned places is illegal, but fun.”

This was it. A woman for Alex to practice on. Or for Kurt to use scissors on.

“And here’s where Alex Monty and Kurt Segar died. Remember, if you post it on your YouTube show, it’s not illegal.”

“It is, though.”

The woman spun around. Nothing. “Who said that? Get out here!”

The barbers materialized in front of the YouTuber. “Hello,” said Alex. “Can we cut your hair?”

“What, are you trying to scare me? I’ve seen ghosts before.”

“Man–er, ma’am, we need to move on. Can we cut your hair?”

“Are you… Alex Monty and Kurt Segar?”

Alex chuckled. “Guilty as charged. Look, sorry to bother you, uh…”


“Miss Liz. Can you take off the hat and sit in the chair? One of us would like to practice on you.”

Liz turned her phone off. “I don’t think…”

“No need to think,” said Kurt. “Just choose who’s hotter,” he pointed at himself, “and let them play with your hair.”

Liz hesitated as she took off her hat to reveal…

“You’re bald.”

“Yeah, no, I have cancer and chemo. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“No,” said Alex. “We’re sorry to have imposed on you.”

“What about a wig?” asked Kurt.

“I think they’re itchy and represent a patriarchal concept of women needing to be beautiful. Mostly itchy.”

“No, ma’am. I mean would you be willing to wear a wig and we cut that? We don’t have a wig head, so we couldn’t cut them right, but we do have wigs in the back room.”

Liz rolled her tongue. “Fine. But I want the cute one to do it first. Alex.”

Alex pumped his fist, or the spectral version of it. He picked up a brunette wig that went down to Liz’s shoulders. He picked up the scissors and went to work. After a half-hour, Alex was finished with his masterpiece.

“Is this me?” asked Liz.


“It looks great.”

Alex faded away with a big smile on his face.

Kurt stroked his astral beard. “Looks like he’s a real barber.”

“Next. Your turn, scissors guy.”

“No thanks. I actually don’t care that I suck with scissors.”

“Then you must have another reason for still being here…”

Kurt thought. “Oh yeah. The Nintendo Wii U came out after I died. Was it a success?”

Liz forced back a laugh. “N-no. Not even a little.”

“Good.” And then he vanished.