Don was a nice guy, but he liked to taunt people, he thought he knew everything, and he was a freshman. Which is a fatal trifecta in college life.
I forget what started our little go-around, but for whatever reason, Don got on my list.
Not in a malicious, time to go into witness protection way, just sort of a watch your back sort of thing.
And unfortunately for Don, I was not only a fan of Edgar Allan Poe (whence the title reference) but also of Walt Disney; in this case, Cinderella.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. So some weeks later, come Halloween, Don went to a big costume party. And being Don, he did what he usually did, which was drop his keys into the big glass bowl at the front door. Which is why experienced spymasters tell people that predictability can get you killed. Or, in Don's case, worse.
After he dropped off his keys, my wingman kept lookout, and I moved Don's car about three blocks over, then hoofed it back. When I returned, the cones went out, and Don's little orange VW bug got...transmogrified.
Then I dropped the keys back where they'd been, and we rejoined the party, to await the after-party we knew was coming.
Don, of course, was having a great time.
I, dressed up as a magician, complete with stuffed white rabbit in my top hat, at one point told Don he'd been bad. Very, very bad. I took out my Official Magician Magic Wand, told Don to think on his deeds, and said "Poof!"
"Nothing" said Don. "Just like always. You never do anything."
And Don laughed, and went back to his fun.
But, just like in Cinderella, all parties have to end.
So, when it was time to fo home, as usual, Don grabbed his car keys, and headed across the street to drive home.
My friend had his watch on stopwatch mode.
Exactly forty-seven seconds elapsed before Don, breathless, flushed, and diaphoretic, came running back inside.
"My car's gone!"
"Gone?" said everyone. "How?" "Why?" "Who'd touch your piece of crap beetle?" And best of all, "Where did you park it?"
"Right over there!" whined Don.
"Let's go look for it!" said everyone.
And in a matter on moments, they found Don's car.
Except where had been a beat-up 1960s orange VW bug, was now a 1980s large orange pumpkin. With 4 large plastic toy car wheels, just like Don's custom rims. And 4 white plastic horses, attached by leather shoelace reins, and driven by a small white cat toy mouse. With a coach whip and a little paper top hat.
Stacy saw it, and bent down to examine the pumpkin. "What's your license, Don?"
Don repeated his license plate number.
"They match" said Stacy.
"Why Don," I said, "it appears that somehow, your car has magically been turned into a pumpkin."
"That's not funny!" he protested.
"Oh yes it is!" said someone in the crowd.
"You shouldn't have stayed past midnight." said one of the other girls.
"Your fairy godmother's going to be pretty pissed at you." said one of Don's friends.
This was going even better than I'd hoped.
"Seriously, dudes, where's my car??" begged now-frantic Don.
"Why Don, I was at the party all night. And you know me. I never do anything, right?"
"Okay, well...maybe I was...mistaken."
"Maybe? Don, you should know never to mess with magic powers beyond your understanding. Bad things can happen."
"Now let's go inside, and see what we can do about finding your car."
And, once again, Don dropped his keys into the glass dish in the hall.
Whereupon wingman scooped them up unobtrusively, retrieved the car, re-parked it, and hid the pumpkin and accessories.
He got back just as Don was finishing his phone call to his parents, explaining he couldn't find his car. It was hard to look sad along with him without laughing out loud.
"Don, I think you've learned your lesson. So I'm going to do you a favor. I'm going to tell you how to find your car."
Don was a broken almost-man now.
"Close your eyes. Click your heels together three times, and say "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
"That's stupid! Where's my car?!"
"Don, haven't you learned yet? Don't mess with the magic. Just do it."
Click. Click. Click. "There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
"See how easy that was? Good night, Don."
And Don went outside, and found his car magically restored, right where it was supposed to be.
And he ran to his car, and almost hugged it. Then he drove home.
For the rest of college, whenever Don would get too full of himself, all we had to do was flash him a postcard picture of a fat little pumpkin and 4 plastic horses. Thank you, Dr. Pavlov.
And Don was always good, and never questioned the Magic again.