I have a soft spot for black cats.

So when it came time to hire a Halloween-buddy for my client Morty, there was no contest.

The interview went something like this:

Thank you for coming in this afternoon, Mr… (glancing at the application) … Phil.

Phil nodded, the tip of his pink tongue protruding from between his fuzzy lips, and then went back to licking his paw. He’d been working away at something orange and stringy between his toes ever since I’d invited him to have a seat on the office ottoman.

According to this your strengths are bringing bad luck, alley-yowling, and getting underfoot in the kitchen. That’s terrific.  Now, what would you say your weaknesses are?

Phil coughed. He hunched over like a sleek teapot and hacked and heaved, bringing up a slimy black wad. I offered him a Kleenex, but he ignored it and batted the wad onto the rug.

There was an awkward silence.

I tucked the Kleenex back into the box and made a mental note to call housekeeping.

May I ask why you left your previous position?

Phil pointed to the third item listed under “Strengths.”

I circled “getting underfoot in the kitchen” and drew in a very light question-mark, since I wasn’t sure Morty, being a hunter-and-gatherer, live-off-the-swamp type, even had a kitchen.

Any experience with costume making? Apple-bobbing? Candy bagging?

Phil nodded eagerly. He sat back on his haunches, tail braced for balance, front paws pantomiming cutting, sewing, etc.

And what about jack-o-lanterns? Do you carve, or just scoop?

Phil pointed to a piece of parchment the size of a place card tucked into his application packet.

Hmm… I thought. Something I missed…

I had to hold it close to the lamp before I could make out the tiny printing above the dime-sized gold seal:

This certifies that PHIL, having successfully completed the Pumpkin Proficiency Program, thereby securing all rights and privileges pertaining to same, on this Thirty-First Day of October, Two Thousand Sixteen, has achieved the rank of “JACK of ALL LANTERNS.”

It was signed “P.P. Pumpkin-Eater ~ Grand Gourd Guru.”

Terrific! I smiled. When can you start?

Phil’s rumbly purr filled the room.