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