You can tell Halloween is almost here. They’re playing Christmas music in the stores, and they got three rows of mechanical Santas ho-ho-hoing in the front of Walmart.

Of course, everything remotely Halloween-y was sold out in July.

So if you ain’t the type who plans your entire life three months ahead of time, you got to be creative. My kids’ Halloween costumes were made by loving hands at home with staples and duct tape and black garbage bags. You can create a lot with that when you’re desperate.

My brothers-in-law, Leech and Lurch, are also creative. Years ago, when they were 12 and 13, my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda, left them home to give out the candy while she took the younger ones out to trick-or-treat.

They decided the candy was too good to give away. So they made a life-size dummy with a cape like Dracula and dangled it on a black nylon ribbon out a upstairs window above the front walk. Whenever any little kids approached, they dropped it down and scared the bejesus out of them. Then they finished off the candy themselves.

Naturally Ms. Larda found out, and yelled at them for a week, and they didn’t ever do it again.

Until the next year. By that time, there was a new crop of trick-or-treaters, and Lurch and Leech perfected Dracula with a little microphone attached to his collar that went MWAHAHAHAHAhahaha!

They terrified generations of little Chalmations with this.

Last year Ms. Larda decided to give a little Halloween party— mostly ladies she goes to bingo with. She decided it would start after everybody’s grandkids had been taken trick-or-treating and were tucked in bed with their teeth brushed.

She told Lurch and Leech, but they are oblivious. They mistake the first group of ladies coming up the walk for late trick-or-treaters dressed as old people. So they dropped down Dracula and turned on the MWAHAHAHAHAhahaha! That caused a WHOLE lot of shrieking and purse-bashing and Yvonne DelBerto fell flat on her back and it’s a miracle she didn’t break a hip.

After Ms. Larda ran them off, the boys decided to take Dracula—they had to fix his nose first: the ladies squished it flat — out for adult fun in the French Quarter.

Now, Chalmette on Halloween is full of cute little kids on the prowl for candy. It ain’t like the Quarter, which is weird enough on normal nights, but on Halloween becomes even stranger than any bar scene in Star Wars. Lurch and Leech decide to lurk on my gentleman friend Lust’s private balcony over the Sloth Lounge, dangle Dracula all the way down to the sidewalk, and wait.

And they waited. And waited. But nobody paid Dracula no mind.

People strolling along with fake knives sticking out of fake eyeballs; or extra heads; or wrapped up in red-stained mummy bandages, just excused themselves as they step around him.

A few monsters stopped and struck up a conversation, evidently assuming the maniacal laugh meant agreement with whatever they were saying. A lady with most of her bosom hanging out rubbed up against him, but she didn’t get the reaction she wanted and sashayed off.

It finally dawned on them that in Chalmette, Dracula might be terrifying. But in the Quarter, he was just one of the crowd.

Then Arnie Aleman stepped out of the Sloth for a smoke. He mistook Dracula’s nose for a cigarette and gave him a light. Dracula’s nose was unfortunately stuffed with dried pine straw, and -WHOOSH— he went up in flames.

Now, fire in the Quarter is a serious thing. Everybody stopped and threw whatever was in their go-cups on him. From above, Lust reached over and cut the ribbon just as Angie, the Sloth bartender, zipped outside with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.

And just like that, Dracula was gone. Disappeared in a puff of smoke. The crowd stood around pop-eyed, holding their empty go-cups.  Arnie swore off drinking on the spot.

Talk about creative. You can’t buy that at Walmart.