How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE

#BlogBattle – Week 15


Originator of this challenge:

This  week’s prompt is …rage… + up to  1,000 words


The new neighbors arrived Saturday morning. Four screaming kids exploded out of the beat up van, voices shrill in the quiet street. Harry powered off and leaned on the handle of his lawnmower. He reached for the cigarette tucked behind his ear and lit up. A plump blonde slid off the passenger seat, pouty mouth streaked blood red. As the brood of kids, all under eleven or twelve, tore up and down the lawn and driveway, a reedy scarecrow of a man appeared at the back of the van and proceeded to unload luggage and cardboard boxes.

“Don’t just stand there, Louise. Open the damn door and come back help me.”

“Can I have the key first?” Her hand snaked forward, palm open.

“Oh for crikey sake. I gave it to you already.” Glass rattled in the box he plunked on the ground.

“Nope. Check your pockets.”

“Don’t give me no lip. I said— You must have slipped it into my pocket. Here— You’re ticking me off woman.”

Harry smoked the last of his cigarette, stared at the grass at his feet and then, across the road. The kids huddled together in a tight knot, quiet now, the girl half a head taller than the tallest boy. The squeal of bad brakes shattered the short-lived silence. A box-like moving van lumbered up the street and stopped in front of the empty house. A lanky twenty-something male jumped out of the passenger’s side and sprinted up the driveway.

“We need to back into the driveway, so’s we can get started? Okay?”

“Can’t you see I’m unloading here?” Scarecrow man spit a gob on the driveway, his hands in tight fists.

“I’ll help.” The young man gawked over his shoulder at the driver.

Harry crushed his smoke in the grass, dropped the butt into his shirt pocket and started up his mower. The rusty van drew up in front of his house, but he ignored it. One more pass and he was done. Turning on his heel, he headed to the backyard.

“The new neighbors have arrived.”

“Oh, yeah? What are they like? Any kids?” She stopped weeding and sat back on her heels, shading her eyes against the sun.

“In a word, trouble—with four kids.”

 * * *

After supper, Harry took out the garbage as usual, snapping the lid on tight and secure. The summer sun slid lower behind the garage. A screeching and wailing rent the air over scraping utensils across dirtied plates inside his house. His head snapped in the direction of the ugly noise. The girl pulled on youngest brother, the other two shadowed them out the side door. Hands in his pocket, Harry ambled down the drive as if deep in thought, an eye on the kids. The van still parked in front of his house afforded a clear view up the empty driveway.

“You don’t tell me nothing. You hear.”

Crash. Smash!

“Stop it. You’re hurting me. Let go.” The woman howled like a banshee.

The kids shuffled away from the door as one, the girl’s arms enclosing her brothers. At that moment Harry caught her eye. She lifted her chin high and turned away. Harry marched towards the house as his wife, a frozen grimace on her face and eyes wide, rushed out the door.

“I’m surprised nobody’s called the cops yet. Call them.” No sooner had the door slammed behind them when a siren moaned in the distance and stopped. Then, again. Closer this time. Two car doors slammed shut. Harry hurried outside as had all the residents on the street.

The police cruiser blocked the bottom of the drive. One burly uniform rushed to the door. The other corralled the children to the cruiser. “Stay inside. I’ll be back.” He rushed towards the house.

“What are you doing in my house? Get out!”

“Sir. Calm down.”

“Ma’am, are you all right? Let’s go into the other room.”

“Don’t tell me calm down. This is my house. You get out.” The words exploded in a guttural roar. Harry, as well as the curious on-lookers disappeared inside their houses.

“Your rage isn’t helping anyone. Hey! Put down that knife, sir. I said. Put. It. Down. Now.”

* * *

An officer on either side strong-arming him, scarecrow man in handcuffs tugged this way and that, and screamed obscenities spittle flying every which way. The woman, Louise, flew out of the house brandishing an umbrella and whacked her husband on the head before one of the uniforms grabbed it from her. ”Pick on women and innocent children will you. Don’t you never come back, you hear?”

“Mommy, mommy.” Her children ran into her open arms. “Shh-shh. It’s going to be okay.”

The girl stepped back first. “I can’t live like this anymore. Yelling, screaming, no groceries, always moving in the night. This isn’t a good life for us kids.”

“It’s okay, Sweetie Pie. I have the keys to the van. We’ll leave tonight.”

“I’m not going. I want clean clothes, a clean bed, regular food and a normal kid’s life.” Two fingers of each raised hand wiggled to suggest apostrophes. “We’re not coming with you.”

“That’s nonsense.” Louse blinked and rubbed an eye smudging the already runny mascara. “We need to get some clothes and things. Come on. Help me.”

“I am not going into that house ever again. We’ll wait out here.”

The three boy nodded like dashboard bobble heads. Louise stared at her daughter with narrowed eyes. “I’ll be right back. Forget the junk inside. I’ll get my purse. One moment.”

As soon as the door slammed behind her, the kids hoofed it across the road to Harry’s house. They didn’t knock. They simply slipped inside.

A voice outside screeched. “Where are my children?” Curtains swayed up and down the street. Louise twisted around a time or two, threw back her shoulders and scurried towards the van.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

61 thoughts on “#BlogBattle – Week 15

  1. So sad and so often, true. You keep getting better on this. the way you marshal ordinary words into tight, tense stories is always amazing.


  2. I don’t suppose the neighbours will go to the house warming party!


  3. Tess, talk about dysfunctional family! You nailed it. Great tone, dialogue & narrative! Christine


  4. As always you’ve made me feel Tess, very powerful words.


  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    As always an excellent story from in #Blogbattle this week Rage… and a family in crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sad, sad but very real. And so brief. Excellent, Tess!


  7. There’s way too much truth in this. Great writing Tess, when it feels so real.


  8. Well done Tess. The only thing is… the neighbors don’t come out — even if they think a life is in danger. Then they blame the abused person.
    Still this is as powerful as all your fabulous stories. And it’s nice to think that someone actually would help, in some town, somewhere. Mega hugs. ❤


  9. Brilliant Tess, you caught the truth of this one.


  10. So sad. I feel for those poor kids.


  11. A tragic story, but beautifully told. ☺


  12. So sad and you captured some pretty heavy emotions very well.


  13. This has such a complete hollow sorrow, despair, and apathy, as this moment in time would.


  14. Sad and all too often true, you captured it totally. ❤


  15. You can’t possibly think your writing is done Tess? What they heck happens next?!


  16. I liked the story premise: A silent witness observes the travesty that can be a family with unstable parents. I had a little difficulty at times because of the use of attributes: ‘he’ used instead of a description or a name. There were enough ‘he’s to keep it confusing. For example:

    The kids shuffled away from the door as one, the girl’s arms enclosing her brothers. At that moment Harry caught her eye. She lifted her chin high and turned away. HE marched towards the house as his wife, a frozen grimace on her face and eyes wide, rushed out the door.

    Although you do explain that ‘he marched toward…his wife…’ and this does clarify it in the end, when you first start reading this paragraph, the ‘speaker’ is Harry, plus that the brother is mentioned. So my brain skipped a beat when you used ‘he’.

    This was a tough subject to capture. I think you got the emotions down well and I am still wondering at the children who crossed the road, preferring a stranger’s home to one they at least were familiar with. I’d like to read more about that motivation.



    • Thank so much for your thoughtful input. You make good points about clarity and I appreciate your taking the time to share with me.
      I suppose because they knew no-one else, the girl took the only chance she had to get help–whatever that might be. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Don’t tell me that mom left the kids with Harry? Ye gad zooks!!!!


  18. That was a pretty harrowing story, which is sadly all too common. You managed to portray so much in such a short story, as you always manage to do!


  19. Okay, you nailed it. I was right ther with them. I knew it was only 1000 words, but I was still disappointed. There will be more? Please?


  20. Brilliant….unfortunately (subject matter)! Really well done!!


  21. Pingback: #BlogBattle Week 15 “Rage” Entries & Voting | Writing Rachael Ritchey

  22. Superb story telling, Tess. Very vivid and I was held captive by the story. Very realistic. I’ve seen people like this in my old neighborhood. It’s tragic.


  23. That poor little girl was old beyond her years. A very sad tale.


  24. Great story Tess 🙂


  25. An intense family situation here! I’m glad the kids stood up for themselves in the end; hopefully their lives will improve. 🙂


  26. Tess, you’re so good at breaking my heart. ❤ Another great story!


  27. You are an amazing storyteller. This was such a sad tale, but I could see and feel every part of it. Wow!


  28. I was about to cry, until the kids rescued themselves.


  29. I felt anxiety reading your story, hoping no one would get hurt, then I felt relief when the kids ran away. Great Story!!!


  30. A sad story, and one that is true all too often, You captured the feel of it well.


  31. I’m getting caught up, Tess. 🙂 Great story. I felt all the frustrations and despair from mom, dad and children. Sadly, I’ve seen versions of this family before.


    • Sigh. It’s a sad world when kids can’t have a decent life, isn’t it? ❤ ❤ ❤
      Thanks again for reading and for your kind comment. I began the story with the new neighbors, but had no idea what would take place after they arrived. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Sadly this version is true all to often in today’s world. It makes me thankful we never hear a sound in our neighborhood. People are out and about but ever so respectful of other people.


  33. In years gone by, people didn’t get involved in other families’ business, but thank God today people are more apt to nose around to protect a child, children or mother. Sad though, sometimes they are hurt as they attempt to do good. ❤


  34. Fiction isn’t very far from very real situations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Wow!! Such a sensitive topic, but so well written. I felt every heartbreaking detail. It’s a shame neighborhoods are no longer like that…so glad the kids ended up in a safe place. 🙂 ❤


  36. That’s true life, Tess. You did a terrific job on it.