When Kids Read

“Dude, what if –”

“Relax, relax, relax,”

“But what if a cop comes?”

“We tell the truth.” Jacob looked at Tommy like he was a lunatic. Tommy sighed. “Let’s examine the situation, shall we? Who are we? We’re just a couple of teenagers. What are we doing? We’re spending our Friday night in a park reading a newspaper.” He ruffled the printed pages he held in his hands as proof. “Simple. What’s there not to believe?”  

Jacob rolled his eyes. “Only everything. Who sits in a park at night reading newspapers?”

“We do,” Tommy stated. “Now shut up and keep watch.”

With a huff the boys quieted. Jacob leaned back against the bench they sat on and sulked while Tommy turned a page and raised the paper till only his eyes and widow’s peak could be seen. A few minutes passed. “Tommy, why –” Jacob whined.

“Hey!” Jacob’s girlish squeal was drowned out (thankfully) only by the immense crumpling of Tommy’s sudden death-grip on his newspaper. They looked towards the street to see a police cruiser stopped directly before them. A flashlight blinded the two within the next moment. “What are you kids doing?” A gruff voice called.

Neither breathed. “… Reading a newspaper?” Tommy suggested as answer. The flashlight flicked off and a face peered at them from the window. An eternity hung in the air as the cop stared beneath the early street-lights.

Eventually, he nodded in acceptance. “Heard any rumors about a fight happening tonight? Round about here? Supposed to be pretty big.” He looked around the street for evidence.

“Nope.” Answered two innocent voices.

The cop nodded again. “Carry on,” he said as he slowly rolled away.

“Tommy – ”

“Shut up.” He said out of the corner of his mouth, watching with an eagle’s eye as the cruiser’s taillights disappeared around the corner.

“But how did he know?” Jacob whispered.

“Doesn’t matter,” Tommy settled the matter. The boys waited the universal amount of safe time, known as “A Good Five”, to call the troops.

Minutes later the park encountered a minor flood of hormones, mostly adrenaline. Fact was Tommy and Jacob lied to the law; they did know about a fight taking place in the park. What’s more, they were part of it.

A gladiator-type brawl was scheduled between thirty some-odd students of a nearby high-school. Not because they hated each other (they were more like one giant group of mutual interests to be honest) but because they felt inspired by a movie they’d watched recently in psychology class that promoted the idea of stress-relief via having your lights punched out. Surely not what their teacher had wanted them to take away from the film but, alas, beggars can’t be choosers.

At the heart of the park the players, both boys and girls, lined up opposite each other and grew serious (one boy even took his shirt off). Three, two, one. As the two masses met and formed one therapeutic brawl laughter and cheers rose. To sum up, it was the most exciting thing to happen since the baby pig corpse debacle in biology last semester. 

The fight lasted about ten minutes. The kids, soft from video games and school lunches, were not quite the warrior Spartans they imagined themselves to be. Still, each body that collapsed held a sincere smile.

“Freeze!” Shouted an authoritative voice. Everyone did. From a cluster of shrubs a few yards away several uniforms appeared and began circling. The main officer of the stickup, coincidentally the same officer Tommy had lied to, spotted and walked right up to him, who by now had a bloody nose and black eye.

“Sucks to be you kid,” he said as he hauled the skinny youth to his feet. “Maybe if you read less you could actually be somebody. Until then, looks like it’s just going to be me for saving our town’s youth from themselves.”

“Actually,” Tommy began. “We got this idea from a movie.”

“Yeah, whatever,” the cop said sarcastically, leading the first of many away to await their parents’ harassment.    

So I lied….

But at least now you can’t call me lazy! The thought of leaving for two straight weeks settled with me not, so I’m dropping something off before my trip.

Interesting note, this is based off a true story I heard clear back in high school (suddenly feeling ancient). Now I’m telling it to you with just a little bit of embellishment. What movie do you think inspired it?

I’m skipping town!

But not really.

I’ll be out of town for a while visiting a friend in New Hampshire (middle of nowhere yo) which consequently means there are no planned updates for next week or the week after. That’s the 30th and the 6th for all you detailed people.

Please believe I’ll continue writing everyday and I’ll be back with a vengeance the 13th of June. In the meantime enjoy the warm weather and upcoming three-day weekend. Spend the day with your family and have a grill-out!

Lastly, thank you again and again for all the support. It truly means a lot.

April Schomberg 

What Happens When…

“What’s wrong?” I asked. He looked up from the table, moments before chipping away at the fake wood with his nails. I fought down a smile. “How’s Kimberly?” I asked switching topics as I sipped away my coffee. 

He didn’t answer. I continued to drink nonchalantly. “Alright, what did you do to me?” He finally asked.  

I looked over in surprise. “Why Matt, whatever do you mean?”

“Don’t play dumb with me. You found out about the affair. Fine. But you chose to stay,” I nodded in agreement to all the above. “But ever since then… I haven’t…” he trailed off. I raised an eyebrow as encouragement. “You know!” He snapped. “I can’t get “it” up. What did you do to me?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I set aside my drink and folded my fingers. “I haven’t done anything.”

“You’re a liar,” He spat. “It started after you found out. Of course it’s your fault.”

“Now Matt, with that sort of attitude we will never move on and grow as a couple.” Standing, I walked around the table pausing at his shoulder. “But really, isn’t this only fair? You cheated on me and now it’s like God himself is punishing you, preventing you from ever doing something like that again.” I smiled, patted his shoulder, and left the room.

Hurrying down the hall to the bedroom we still shared I rooted through the bottom drawer of the dresser. Near the back my fingers met a small vial. I smiled to myself. After discovering the love of my life cheated on me, I was of course distraught. “Lift something, wax something, have something peeled,” he told me. “Deal with it.” Deal with it I tried, and failed. Eventually I decided the only way I would ever feel better was to take the revenge route. But how? A little research through the deepest and darkest recesses of the internet revealed the answer to me readily (at quite the reasonable shipping price to boot).  

“Chemical Castration”. There was a surprising amount of information to be found on the topic. Typically it’s reserved for pedophiles: those who truthfully feel they can’t control their urges. That almost perfectly fit my situation. She was younger than me (by six months) and he just couldn’t control his urges.  

It had was enough. A small needle at just the right moment could never be detected. It’s not my fault he was too stupid to figure it out; even more-so that he would continue to stay when he suspected foul-play. 

I stayed, and would continue to stay as long as the revenge business continued to be this fun. Vengeance was still mine. 

Ghost

Suddenly there was noise. Shadows outlined by the tunnel lights edged closer to reveal a man and girl. Struggling to a broken bench in the middle of the abandoned subway station the man roughly threw the girl down, amidst cries and protests, and quickly climbed atop.

Hearing something above his head the man looked up to see a dove in the rafters. Hopping from left to right the bird turned its head and flapped its wings, softly cooing. “Would you look at that?” The man said, smiling down at the girl. “Even the bird is excited.”

Ignoring the man’s attempts at humor the girl continued to struggle. The man clenched his fist and made ready to descend. A thump stopped him. “Who’s there?” He called, fear clear in his voice. He’d never done anything like this before and, try as he might to appear confident in his actions, nerves racked his very being.

Footsteps, clasped in heels, sounded closer. Out of the shadows emerged the tall and slim figure of a woman. Dressed extravagantly in surprisingly tight clothing, he was momentarily awed into stillness by her beauty. Quickly closing the distance she first looked down at the girl and smiled, conveying that everything would be just fine in a moment. The girl looked back and was still.

Clenching her fist just as the man had the woman drew back and struck, knocking him across the room. While the man mourned the loss of his now broken nose, screaming in pain and fury, the mysterious woman helped the other up, brushing off her face. Smiling again, she gently pushed her towards the exit with a pleasant farewell wave. The girl ran from there never once looking back.

Turning her attention back to the man, now on his knees, the woman walked towards him confidently. “The fuck man?” The man looked through blurry eyes at the approaching sight.

“By God! This is the best beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not.” The woman spoke finally, with a voice unlike her looks: high-pitched and grating to his ears.  

“What are you talking about?” The man asked. “She—we were role-playing!” He motioned to his now absent female counterpart. “Who the fuck are you?”

“As wind I have settled here and inhabit this place. May He who causes His name to dwell in this House, cause to dwell among you love and brotherliness, peace and friendship.”

“What?” The man asked before another fist rearranged his mind. When he awoke he found himself on a bench in a park down the street from the old subway station he’d fallen asleep in. How odd he would want to squat there for the night; it was so cold and lonely in that building.

Rubbing his eyes he stood and went in search of breakfast. Along the way he happened upon an older man who struggled up the stairs to his apartment complex. The man, now innocent in mind, stopped to help his elder inside, rewarded with five dollars (which he later used to buy a cup of coffee).  

The older man was delighted but showed concern over the state of his helper’s face, which was blessed with a black-eye and swollen nose. The man couldn’t remember how it happened and told the other not to spare a moment’s thought on it. If he wasn’t worried about it, why should he?       

How You Do

Unscrew the lid, twist the bottom, apply lipstick. Nelly fluffed her hair in a cute manner and grinned at herself in the mirror. She could hardly contain herself for the bliss she felt at the thought of her boyfriend, Jacob, visiting for dinner after work. Quietly she heard the bell to her small apartment ring. Stifling a squeak she skipped to the door letting her spring dress flap about her knees carelessly, pausing only to double-check the kitchen table was set and all prepared food was accounted for. Without so much as a glance in the peephole Nelly unlocked the door and threw it open in welcome. She wanted to slam it shut just as quickly when, in horror, she looked out into the hallway to see not her lover, but her father. 

Grinning in a way strikingly similar in manner to his daughter, Nelly’s father burst open, revealing his short, stocky build well fed on campfire beans. Rushing forward he embraced her wholly, lifting her off her feet as he twirled her around the living room. Returning her to the floor he greeted her with a flood of words and large hand gestures. Nelly stood in shock. Her father asked a question and, without waiting a proper amount of time for answer, yelled out into the hallway.   

Needing no further encouragement, a horde of men flooded through the door much like clowns flood out a car. Nelly found herself stranded in a sea of flying voices and bodies vying for space. She wanted to cry. It was not that she disliked her father; in fact, she loved him dearly. But that did not stay the embarrassment she felt at his sudden turning-up. His chosen occupation was that of a traveling circus performer and musician; his friends his fellow players. Growing up, Nelly loved it. Her father gifted her toys from all over the land when he visited; his friends related like uncles, playing music and dancing for her until she would explode from squeals. But as age took her she set her mind on the notion that other people didn’t much like such things.

Jacob was a business man; a serious one. He knew nothing of her heritage. If he found out her father was nothing more than what some people would call a gypsy, why, he would leave her and find himself a respectable woman. Simple as that.         

Nelly heard hustles and bustles coming from her kitchen. It sounded like the world falling apart. Running in earnest she saw five men plus her father seated at the table, the counter, and against the fridge. Instruments appeared from various concealed compartments often found on a person and, meeting lips, expelled rowdy music fit for a pub. But worse than that, the men had laid waste to her dinner. Stuffing the food she had so carefully prepared into heavily bearded mouths, only crumbs remained with cheer.  

The doorbell rang. Nelly stiffened with fright. Her father bade her answer, lest he answer it himself. Slowly she left the kitchen for the living room and front door. Pulling it open with far less gusto than before, she looked meekly at her boyfriend standing in the hall.

Pecking her on the cheek as he loosened his tie, he stopped just a few steps inside the door when he heard the kitchen making unusual noises. Nelly pulled on Jacob’s elbow and stuttered the beginnings of an explanation, but before more than a few words escaped her father appeared in the door-frame, loudly inquiring about the possibility of more food.

The two men of her life stared at each other. A half-hearted hello drifted between the two. Suddenly her father smiled. Jacob motioned in a questioning manner. Before Nelly could move her father did, introducing himself as the head of the household and all its inhabitants. Shaking hands vigorously Jacob continued to look at her. She shrunk and waited for the disapproval, only to hear it never come. Instead she was given laughter. Imagine: such a free-spirited man to converse with instead of stuffy suits and ties.

Already best buds, her father threw his arm around Jacob and guided him into the kitchen, much to the welcome of those within. Dazed and more than a little confused Nelly couldn’t quite wrap her mind around it. Giving up on her rational she shrugged and entered the full kitchen, setting about preparing ham and cheese sandwiches for her family. 

Fish Over Bread

In a far-off place and time brothers Tommy and Gilford lived in a floating bakery on a big river. How the bakery came by the ability to float escapes the two even to this day, but how they found themselves in the bakery is quite simple. A war broke out in their home country, and a rain of bombs the news called “hail” ruined their family’s plans during the weekly trip to town. Separated from their parents Tommy and Gilford ran into the nearest building, a bakery, and hunkered down to wait out the storm. When they awoke the next day life as they knew it no longer existed. All that remained was the bakery and a whole lot of water.

But all was not dismal. The shelves were lined with carbs of all different shapes and sizes, much to the boys’ delight. They ate well and waited for something to happen. Nothing did, and soon the slow sways of the building over water lulled them to sleep. Awakened the next morning by the unmistakable smell of freshly baked goods they found, beyond all belief and many eye-rubs, a bakery just as full of fresh bread as the day before! A week later the brothers recognized no one was coming for them. A good cry later they crawled to the front door. It led directly out into a river with grassy fields on either side. With insects to chase out and birds to serenade the boys settled into their new life with the sort of ease only seen in young adaptable minds.   

A quiet morning months later found Gilford hard at work. Fastening a makeshift fishing rod, he threw open one of the big windows of the bakery and climbed onto the sill.

“What cha’ doing?” Tommy called from the floor, munching on a croissant out of boredom. There is only so much you can do on a boat, you see.         

“I want meat,” Gilford said matter-of-factly.

“Meat… You mean fish?” Tommy raised his head and squinted his eyes. “You’ll never catch anything.”

“Says you.” Gilford cast his line cheerfully and, wiggling his butt, settled in to wait. 

Tommy sighed. “I’m bored.”

“You should find a hobby.” Gilford suggested from the window. “Mom had a hobby,”

“Sewing? Where am I supposed to get that sort of stuff?”

“Dad had a hobby,” 

“Cars, brother, cars.”

 “Fish on, fish on!” Came a sudden cry. Gilford struggled to stand up in the window and nearly slipped out.

“What, really?” Tommy ran to the window. Grabbing his brother around the waist, what could only be described an epic battle ensued. The bakery tilted this way and that, throwing the boys’ home into disarray. Sweat-spots formed on their shirts, the likes of which are only ever seen on burly, bearded men hard at work. Tommy heard a crack and saw the front door fly open. In horror he watched, as the bakery swayed harshly, all the baked goods of the day fly to the floor and gently roll outside. Crying in dismay, Tommy heedlessly released his brother and ran to the door, but far too late. Soon joined by Gilford, the two boys looked out onto the most dismal sight since their swing-set caught fire from one particularly harsh hail-storm.

“Great,” Tommy slapped Gilford upside the head as soggy dough floated pleasantly around them. “Now what are we supposed to eat for dinner?” Gilford shrugged and brought into sight his catch: a giant flapping fish, big enough to feed two growing boys for quite some time – or at least until the next morning.