My name is Catalina Barba-Carisi
Growing up, I remember my dad always hated watching horror movies especially ones with ghosts. My papi loved them, so every Halloween dad would take me trick or treating and papi would watch an age appropriate horror movies with me. Sometimes, dad would take Jessica, Noah, Jesse and Billie as well as myself trick or treating. This year though my cousins had said that they were too old to go trick or treating with Billie and myself. I mean Noah is 13, Jessica is 12 and Jesse is 11. I just turned 10 and Billie just turned 9, but to Noah we are still just little kids.
Noah and Jesse were staying the night while Billie was staying at her dads, while Aunts Liv and Amanda and dad were working a case and they weren’t sure what time they would be home. Papi was in his office working on a case that he was presiding over as judge. Noah was on his laptop looking into the history of our building. Our building is old and Noah had an idea, that if there were possible ghosts in the building, then perhaps we could prank dad. Turns out that there were reports of ghosts in the building. Noah and Jesse kept trying to think of a plan when I suggested that maybe we could use old walkie talkies and make it sound like there was a ghost in the apartment. They looked at me like I just solved the meaning of life. Noah grabbed me and kissed my cheek. I had to turn away so that he didn’t see me blush.
We had a week to Halloween, se we had to find what we needed very soon. I left Noah and Jesse to look for recordings online while I went looking through dads old cop stuff. Unfortunately its in the office where papi was working. I knocked on the door and went in when I heard papi say come in. I asked him where dad had put his old cop stuff. Papi asked me why I needed it, so I explained that Noah, Jesse and myself were working on a project for school and we needed old walkie talkies. Papi didn’t looked convinced, but helped me look for them. We also ended up finding little speakers so I grabbed those as well. Before I left, papi told me that he would be out soon to cook dinner. I walked out to see that Jesse had an excited look on her face. She says that they have found what they were looking for. I held up the walkie talkies plus the speakers. Noah had the biggest smile on his face. I did warn them that we had to make sure that papi didn’t see what we were up to. When I looked up at Noah and Jesse, they had horrified looks on their faces, I turned around and straight into papi’s amused face. I didn’t say a thing. Papi walked over to Noah’s laptop and saw what they had just downloaded. I thought that papi would be mad, but he just started laughing. He walked into the kitchen to start dinner when he called the 3 of us over so we could go though out plan with him while he cooked. Papi did suggest some improvements but otherwise, it was a good plan.
Over dinner, we came up with full plan on where to put the speakers which would be the kitchen, lounge room, office and the main hallway. Absolutely no speakers were to be in the bedrooms or bathroom. The only kink in the plan was Jessica, Aunt Bella’s daughter. She didn’t know how to keep secrets, so it was decided that she would not know about the prank. The plan was coming together, we just needed one more thing. Something to connect the walkie talkies and speaker so the sounds would come out. Papi said that he might know of someone that could help with that. Because papi cooked, he asked Jesse and myself to wash and dry. I could see papi talking to Noah. I just hoped that it wasn’t about my crush on him. Jesse looked over at them as well before whispering in my ear that Aunt Liv had asked papi to have a talk with him man to man. Once everything was dried and put back in their places, we joined papi and Noah to watch tv dor a little while before going to bed. Jesse would be sleeping in my room while Noah took the spare room. It was around 2am when I heard dad walk in. He opened my door a bit and saw that I was awake. He carefully walked over to my bed to wish me goodnight. I just hoped that dad would forgive me for what we were planning.
The next morning, Aunts Liv and Amanda come to pick up Noah and Jesse. We had come up with jobs to do for the prank. Noah was to download the sounds onto a USB, Jesse was to come up with something to create shapes and papi and I would find places to hide the speakers and walkie talkies. After seeing Aunt Liv and Noah out, papi received a phone call. He made sure that dad was still in the shower before pulling me to the lounge room and explaining that it was Uncle Mike on the phone. Uncle Mike had what we needed and would be bringing it by later today. It was all coming together. We hoped to have everything up and running in a couple of days before Halloween. Just enough time to scare dad, but not too much. Papi hung up as dad walked into the kitchen. Dad asked who was on the phone and I said that Uncle Mike was coming around to drop off something for papi. It was around lunch time that Uncle Mike popped by and dad talked him into staying to watch some of the Islanders game. Dad didn’t look suspicious about what papi could have needed from Uncle Mike. I guess being a judge had its perks. All that was needed was the sounds and shapes which would be here tomorrow.
I met up with Noah and Jesse after school the next day to head back to my place. I called out as we entered to make sure that dad wasn’t here. With no answer, I showed Noah where to plug in the USB and showed him how it worked. Once the USB was loaded and ready to go, we headed back out to help Jesse. Not only had she created shapes, but she had come up with an idea to make something move when the shapes moved. We decided to test it to see how it would look. Noah took a video of it and sent it to papi to show him what we had done. Papi texted back back that he loved it.
When dad and papi walked in, the 3 of us were doing our homework. Dad asked Noah and Jesse if they wanted to stay for dinner, but they both declined saying that they were supposed to help their mums with dinner. With just the 3 of us for dinner was nice. We didn’t get to have dinners like this anymore since dad became the EADA, which you would think would have lightened his work load, but really only increased. I sat at the bar watching papi wash while dad dried. We talked about our day. Dad asked me if I had a crush on Noah a he had seen me blush when bald said goodbye. Papi looked at me with wide eyes and exclaimed that he had given Noah the talk, whatever that meant and that I was to be his little girl forever. I went to bed soon after knowing that papi would start soon start the sounds.
I laid awake in bed waiting for the sounds to start. After about an hour, I heard dad yell out about some noises in the bathroom, papi must have put a speaker in there. Papi assured that it was just the building. Dad went to make sure everything was locked up tight, when dad jumped and screamed. Papi must have gone out to see what dad wanted, but when he told papi something had moved, papi didn’t didn’t believe him. Papi must have convinced dad to join him in bed as I didn’t hear anything else. When I got up the next morning, dad asked me if I had seen or heard anything yesterday or last night. I told him I hadn’t. Dad went to have a shower and to get ready for the day and when dad was in the bathroom, papi and I high fived each other. Papi said that he was going to ramp it up a little more tonight.
And so it went, each night, papi ramped up the sounds and moving shapes a little more with each night till it was the night before Halloween. Dad was checking each room for the sounds, but he couldn’t find them. He was convinced that there was a ghost in the apartment, so convinced that he brought Aunts Liv and Amanda and Uncle Fin to help him look. I guess Aunt Amanda figured it out as when she saw me, she had a very amused look on her face. Once they left and I went to bed, papi turned on the speakers and had Jesse’s shapes moving. Dad didn’t know what to do. I could hear him asking papi what was going on and pleading with the ghost to leave him be. I was starting to feel a little ashamed about the prank, so I left my room to check on dad. I could see that he was sitting on the floor whimpering, so I hugged him and offered my bed to him as I hadn’t heard any sound in my room. We headed to my bedroom, but dad didn’t take my bed. He took the mattress on my floor. Once dad fell asleep I kept thinking about what happens when he finds out it was all a prank, would he hate me, divorce papi. I just hoped that he would forgive us.
Morning came and with it my doubts about this prank. Dad was gone before papi or I got up. I told papi my fears, but papi assured me that wouldn’t happen. I headed to school and met up with Jesse and told her how it went last night. I also told her that her mum knew, but she didn’t believe me. On the way to class, we were joined by Uncle Mike’s son Andrew. Apparently he knew of the prank and couldn’t wait for tonight. I hadn’t spent much time with Andy since we were babies as Uncle Mike got transferred to DC, so the Dodds family relocated and only moved back last months. When Andy sat in his chair a couple of rows in front of Jesse and I, Jesse whispered to me saying that she thought that Andy liked me. I turned to look at him and he quickly turned back around to the front of the class.
Because dad and papi didn’t want me to have a phone, I had to wait till I saw them to see if dad had said anything. After school, Noah, Jesse, Andy, Billie and myself headed to the precinct to met up with our parents. The plan for tonight was to trick or treat around the precinct building, the DA’s office and the court house. Our costumes were at the precinct so we didn’t need to go home to get ready. I was dressed up as a cop in a small police uniform outfit, Jesse and Billie were dressed as a zombie and a vampire respectively, Andy was dressed up as Caractacus Potts from a bootleg copy of the broadway version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that we had seen recently. Noah waited till all our parents were in the bull pen to come out. Papi was admiring Andy’s costume and dad couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw what I was wearing. Jesse knocked on Aunt Liv’s office to let Noah know it was time to come out. Minutes later, Noah walked out dressed as a ghost.
When dad saw Noah, he went pale and started shaking. Papi rushed over to dad and helped him sit down. Noah looked a little guilty. Papi said that we should go ahead and that he would stay here with dad, so off we went. Once done with the precinct, Aunt Liv and Uncle Mike took us to the DA’s office and then the court house. Everyone loved our costumes, especially Andy’s. After a couple of hours and with full bags, buckets and baskets, we headed back to the precinct. It looked like that dad had calmed down enough to admire all the work of our costumes including Noah’s. I knew then that we had to confess about the prank. I pleaded and begged for dad not to hate me, I was crying when dad came over to me and kissed my head while hugging me. Dad said that he forgave us and admitted that he was impressed and that it was a pretty good prank. Aunt Liv on the other hand looked at all of us, kids and adults alike with an unhappy glare. Noah would be grounded for at least 2 weeks.
Noah, Jesse and I spent the next 2 days cleaning the apartment and getting rid of everything to do with the prank. Although, dad did ask us to put everything in the office as he had an idea for next years Halloween. He want to get back at Aunts Teresa and Gina for making him watch the scary ghost horror movies when he was a kid.
That last part had my Aunts slap dad on his arms while everyone else laughed. Before I could continue, dad yelled up at me saying
“I knew about the prank the whole time. Your papi thought it would be brilliant to prank you and the other 2 back”
“I knew it. I knew papi would tell you. He hates pranks” I exclaimed. “Well, I had to come up with a way to get Noah to include me” I shrugged.
I looked over to Noah and Jesse who were finally engaged after practically being together for 10 years. I could hear Rafael Micheal Dodds, my son, calling for me while held by Andrew, my husband of 5 years. We were both in the NYPD, Andy was a Sargent for homicide and I was a detective in SVU with Noah as my partner, also a detective. Jesse was an engineer, she loved to build things and Billie was about to sit the New York bar. Jayden who was living in San Francisco when the prank took place was now a councillor just like his dad. As I look out at everyone I explain why I chose this story to tell. Mainly because it was one of my favourite memories and when I decided that I was going to be a cop just like dad. I ask everyone to raise their glasses, mine consisting of orange juice as I was currently 6 months pregnant with my baby girl, and to toast my dad’s on their day.
“Happy 30th Anniversary dads”.