It was a dark and stormy night in the Black Hawk condo complex of Saint Lucifer, California. Okay, it wasn't storming, it was balmy; and it wasn't Black Hawk, it was Bahia Vista in San Rafael, California, not Saint Lucifer; and it wasn't quite dark, but the sun was setting.

Eerie screams, loud, annoying water drips and deep, deep voices came from inside one dark, dank dwelling. Three smiling pumpkins with flickering faces led the way to the door. One very short goblin walked slowly up the sidewalk with his mother by his side. He lifted one foot high and braced to bring the other up on the step. The door creaked as it opened by itself. A few moments later, she emerged -- a skinny, longhaired witch dressed in black leotard, pants and boots, wrapped in a black cape lined with red satin – it could, and sometimes did, double for a magicians cape. "He-llo, my sweet," she said with a raspy voice. "Would you like some treats?" She peered down and bent over with her plastic pumpkin of tiny raisin boxes and a ghost dish of bagged popcorn – a nutrition-freaky witch, good grief!

The goblin looked around the living room lit only by candles. Giant spiders dangled in angel-hair webs; a teddy bear in a ghostly sheet-cut-out guarded the door with a pitch-fork in paw and a black rat at his side. Screeches and moans filled the air.

The wide-eyed goblin managed a tiny, "Thank you!" as he held out his bag for the loot. Then he turned, walked silently out the door and disappeared down the sidewalk.

A year later, the witch had turned grumpy and cynical. Her caldron was full of woe. She dumped giant bags of Reeses and Snickers into bowls and set them by the door. The lights were on and the drapes were drawn. Carved pumpkins on the doorstep and a few window clings were the only clues to the night's import. Her three goblins had departed, off on their bounty-mission with friends. Light rock played at a low volume on the radio.

Just before dusk, the first knock came. She opened the door with a smile – no need to dish out despair. A little boy, about 4 years old, looked up at her with wide eyes, and said, "I know you. You're the witch!"

"Ohh, my goodness! You're so right," she said, and her heart sank.

When the Halloween beggar left, the witch shut the door and tore off her clothes as she raced up the stairs for anything black and the obligatory pointed hat. She grabbed all the candles she could find and groped for anything that looked mildly spooky. Nimbly fingers scuttled through tapes looking for "Halloween Sounds" and "Thriller" and the sound track from "2001 a Space Odyssey." She switched off the lights and left the door open while she snatched anything else she could make set the scene. The witch held out hope that the goblin would return or maybe walk by on the other side and see that all was as it should be, but it was a dark and stormy night of regret.

For thirty years the witch has heard the little boy's voice and sighed that she was too deep in her cauldron of woe to share the moment she could have made a little different with a little goblin who remembered for a whole year, you're the witch.