Written & Illustrated
Story and Art ©Suzanne Muldowney, Photo of Spectrum by @checkerphil taken at “Beyond Vaudeville Live” @Carolines 10/28/93
Tommy and Sammy were small ghosts. They lived on the beach, in a cave inside a huge cliff by the ocean.
Everyday Tommy and Sammy would wake up and then run to the water’s edge to play together. In the winter they didn’t like swimming in cold water, but often they would find something in the sand, washed ashore by the waves. If there were lots of seashells, they would make little mountains of shells and then try to jump over the piles.
If some boards or old tires had washed ashore, Tommy and Sammy would climb onto them and then slide along the sand and in the very shallow water. If there was seaweed, they would drag the wet clumps onto the sand to dry and then heap it in front of their cave like bushes in front of a house.
When the summer came, the two little ghosts would swim for hours and hours every day. Fortunately, they were invisible to tourists. Jumping over the waves was what the ghosts loved best. Every time a wave rose and broke, Tommy and Sammy would jump high into the air, beating their legs together several times. They tried to see which of them could beat his legs together faster when in mid-air. Once Sammy did it six times.
Or, when they decided to come out of the water, the ghosts waited for a big wave to fall and break. They swam in, gliding along with the wave like surfboard riders.
Their favorite game was playing catch with the seashells. Tommy would pick up a shell and throw it toward the ocean. And Sammy, hiding underwater, would jump out and try to catch the shell and threw it back before a wave could knock him down!
One day in autumn, the sand was covered with seashells at the water’s edge. Sammy had been swimming but had come out of the water because it was becoming colder, and the sun was setting. Sammy saw all the shells and started to tell Tommy – but Tommy was not there. Sammy looked up and down the beach, but he couldn’t see Tommy.
While waiting for Tommy to return, Sammy began to pile up the shells into heaps. He then began jumping over them.
Just then, Tommy came running back with exciting news.
“Today is Halloween!” he said. “And tonight, there’s going to be a big party on the beach about a quarter mile North of here. There’ll be dancing, music, and a full moon! Lots of ghosts are going.”
“Oh, I haven’t seen a full moon on Halloween for years!” cried Sammy. “How long will the party last?”
“From sundown to sunrise tomorrow. Come on! It’s almost dark now and I don’t want to miss a thing.”
So, Tommy and Sammy went off at once to the party.
It wasn’t long before it was dark, and the two ghosts could see the tiny lights used to warn passing ships out at sea. But then they saw, over the beach, what looked like a fire. And they heard the din of voices over music.
“That’s it, right up there.” said Tommy. “There’s the party.”
And what a party it was!
There was a big stage where an orchestra was playing beautiful music. A tall ghost, waving a stick, was leading musicians who were laying all sorts of instruments – violins, flutes, horns of all sizes, drums, a few cymbals, a couple of pianos, a xylophone and even a harp.
There were hills of sand, each one topped with a pumpkin. And each pumpkin had a huge burning log stuck to it. Torches! So that was what had looked like a big fire.
There were tables heaped with food. Ghosts were all around these tables helping themselves to cold meats, rolls, cookies, cakes, pies, and punch. Several other ghosts were busy keeping the punch bowl and the food trays full.
Above all, there were hundreds of ghosts everywhere – big ones, little ones, thin ones, fat ones. Some talked in groups, but most of them were dancing to the music the orchestra was playing.
“This is going to be the greatest Halloween I’ve ever had!” said Tommy.
“Let’s dance a while. That music makes me want to dance.” Sammy answered.
For a little while the two ghosts joined the crowds who were dancing. Then Sammy noticed something.
“Tommy, look over there! A fog!”
“No, that’s not fog. That’s just some ghosts along the water’s edge.”
“But look again. Those robes! They look like fog with them on.”
Sammy was right. The ghosts skimming the shallow water were wearing long white robes. When they twirled, the robes made them look like foggy clouds. Many of the other ghosts had these robes, too.
And still others had robes of white net, through which the ghosts’ legs could be seen. One group of three ghosts had those net robes and were always kicking their legs in time to the music.
“Why do those ghosts have those robes?” Tommy asked.
A tall ghost answered their question. “Some wise, powerful ghosts come to these beach parties and hold dance contests. We never know if someone will come and decide to have a contest. All the ghosts dance for these judges. The white robes are First Prize, and the net robes are Second Prize. Sometimes, if a ghost wins many more contests after receiving First Prize, he may become a judge.”
“Will there be a contest tonight?” asked Sammy.
“I don’t know. This party isn’t the only one tonight; there must be many others on the beach. If one of the judging ghosts does come, maybe some of the ghosts with net robes will get First Prize. Sometimes even the great King Spectrum might hold a contest.”
“King Spectrum? Is he coming here?” Tommy and Sammy were excited. What if this king came to the Halloween party!
“How did he get that name?”
“Well, most kings wear crowns. But Spectrum wears a diamond necklace that twinkles when he walks. And sometimes, when he dances, he spins so fast that – “
But before the ghost could finish, there was a lot of shouting. Now there was a fog over the ocean! Ghosts in white or net robes formed a big row at the water’s edge and began to dance again, seeming to melt into the fog at times. Even the ghosts without robes began to join in the fog-like ranks of ghosts.
Soon the fog began to lift away. Now the crowds could see a full moon coming over the ocean. But then – they could also see another ghost, wearing a white robe with sparkles on it, a misty white cape with more sparkles, a diamond-studded belt, and a diamond necklace!
It was King Spectrum!
All the other ghosts clapped and cheered as the ghost king began to dance. Just as that tall ghost had said, Spectrum’s necklace sparkled and glittered as he moved. And when Spectrum twirled, he spun so fast that his robe and cape spread out around him, and his necklace flashed in all colors at once!
“Wow! Look at him go!” cried Tommy.
“But look at how his necklace is blinking. No wonder his name is Spectrum.” Sammy answered.
When Spectrum stopped dancing, there were more group dances. All the ghosts kicked, jumped, ran, twirled, or walked to the music. From time to time small groups would stop and eat, and then dance again.
Tommy and Sammy danced almost every dance. And they really had fun! It was such a marvelous Halloween here on the beach under the full moon, dancing with all these ghosts.
Suddenly Spectrum clapped his hands. The music stopped and everyone wondered what he wanted.
“Attention, everyone! It is time for a contest!”
A contest! So, Spectrum was going to judge a dance contest! The ghosts all began to divide into teams of two, three, four, five, six, or whatever number they wanted. Some of the other ghosts would dance by themselves.
The ghosts took off one of the torches from a sand hill so that Spectrum could sit on it. He took out a little notebook and a pencil to take notes on all the dancing teams!
Spectrum pointed to a team of four ghosts. This group went to the conductor and told him what music they wanted. Their dance number started with slow music and steps, but it ended very fast with somersaults.
The three ghosts wearing net robes did endless kicking, hopping, and toe-tapping. But all three of them always kept together – not one of them kicked higher than the other two did or jumped higher. Everyone copied the other two exactly.
Another group of seven had just the drummers in the orchestra to play their music. With pieces of driftwood to hold, these ghosts did baton-twirling and finished by letting their batons cast fire from the torches and then jump over the burning sticks!
On and on it went, with every team or solo going to the conductor and giving the name of their music, then dancing as Spectrum continued to take notes. Would someone get Second Prize? Who might get First Prize? Maybe someone who had no robe might do well enough to get First Prize that night.
Spectrum watched hundreds of ghosts, and still he took notes. He could not announce any winners until everyone had danced.
Then, finally, he pointed to Tommy and Sammy!
So far, all the teams had done tricks or stunts in hope of winning the prize. What was Tommy’s and Sammy’s special trick?
Tommy and Sammy did the big jumps and leaps they did at home when swimming in the ocean. They shot high into the air, beating their legs together – two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight times! They did somersaults in mid-air – sometimes five times in one jump! They jumped see-saw style – when one went up, the other came down. They finished with big leaps while moving in a circle – the same big leaps they used to jump over the piles of seashells. Sammy took one last leap – and Tommy caught him mid-air!
When every ghost had danced, Spectrum announced the names of those who had won Second Prize – the robes of net. Everyone cheered as several ghosts came forward carrying the robes and putting them onto the winners.
“As for First Prize,” continued the ghost king, “I’ve never seen any dancing quite like what I saw by this year’s winners. No one who got First Prize before, won this time! The First Prize winners are – Tommy and Sammy!”
Tommy and Sammy had won First Prize! All the other ghosts screamed and clapped and cheered as the robe-carrying ghosts put the prize white robes on the two winners.
“Look at this!” cried Tommy. He turned around spreading his robe the way he had seen Spectrum do it.
“But look what else we get.” said Sammy. On the front of his robe and Tommy’s were pinned two blue ribbons!
When the sun rose, the party was over, and Halloween was over for another year. All the ghosts said goodbye to the winners, to their friends, to the members of the orchestra, and to King Spectrum, all hoping to see one another next Halloween.
But Tommy and Sammy were the happiest ghosts that day as they returned home,
for they had won First Prize!