Mel Gibson knew something bad was out there, yet he still grabbed a flashlight and headed into the cornfield under a pitch black sky to investigate.

“Why would he do that!” my daughter Jenna blurted out.

“He’s protecting his family,” I said. “I’ve done that many times.”

I have, for as long as I can remember.

There I was laying on the floor in my underwear on a hot summer night. I think I was 13 and watching a James Bond movie. It was late. My sister and mother were sleeping.

I heard the door rattle. The knob turning. Something pushing against the screen door.

Our rabbits had recently died. They were in the barn and someone, or some thing, had killed them. Left their little rabbit heads behind. The bodies were gone.

I slithered across the floor, terrified, and reached up, unlocked the gun cabinet and pulled out a .12-gauge and loaded it.

The door continued to rattle, ever so slightly.

I stood up and leaped across the threshold into the kitchen and aimed the gun directly at the intruder.

It was my friend Wayne. He lived down the road and figured he would come over and peeked in but didn’t see me on the floor watching TV.

I nearly killed him. Instead I punched him and told him never to do that again.

Fear is a powerful thing.

Never so much as this year, The Year of Fear.

Tonight, Jenna, who just turned 11 last month, will be going trick-or-treating with her friend, who is 12.

“Do you want to go alone?” I asked her.

She leaped into the air and screamed “YESSSSS!!””

At some point, a child doesn’t want to go trick-or-treating with her parents. That had been the plan. Her mom and I would tag along and walk with her door-to-door as we had in previous years.

It’s fun and we like seeing all the kids in costumes.

Instead, for the first time every, I will be passing out candy and waiting for Jenna and her friend to return to her mom’s apartment so we can raid her stash.

“We have to check for needles and drugs and razors and worms and stuff,” we will tell her, even though that’s just an excuse to pick out all the good stuff.

The thing is, had Jenna read all of the things circulating on the internet or on local news stations or wherever, she probably would be staying home tonight, hiding under her covers.

Not only do we need to worry about coronavirus-laden candy from corona positive households, we have to worry about:

n The ever-present pins and razors in candy, an urban, and country, myth that still exists despite no evidence of that ever happening.

n Drugs in candy. Powder cocaine replacing the sugar in Pixie Stix. Edible marijuana-laced gummies and chocolate and lollipops. Pop Rocks that are actually crystal meth. Temporary tattoos laced with acid.

n Costumes that don’t meet fire resistant standards, because, you know, so many children have burst into flames on Halloween.

n And in recent years, sex predators. Even police, who should know better, issue warnings ever year, conduct house visits of those on the registry and continually tell us parents to research and find out where the predators live and avoid their houses.

Oh, and the ominous “sex traffickers,” who will scoop up a child and throw them in a black van and take off, something else that has never actually happened, despite Facebook posts to the contrary.

Imagine if I told my daughter all of this. Would she still want to go trick-or-treating alone, without my protection?

We have enough to fear without adding irrational fears to the mix.

No. My daughter and her friend will be heading out alone tonight, into that dark cornfield under a dark sky with a flashlight and a tote bag that will be filled with pure, tasty candy.

The only warning I will give her is “Don’t eat any chocolate-based candy until I can inspect it. Especially Reese’s cups.”

Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1