Kent’s dad continued his cruel dominion over the park in the evening. I sat inside our mobile home and watched from the window adults fought. The pile of rancid trash surrounding David’s trailer ignited the passions of the landlord, who ranted about throwing David’s mom off the lot.
“She’s worthless!” he screamed into the face of my dad, the closest thing to a mediator we had. “She’s just a crazy ‘ol bitch who won’t take her trash out. I’m tired of Broadway looking like a dump heap—that’s why we got so many grackles. This whole place, covered in bird shit. That’s why no one else wants to live here, and I’m stuck with you assholes!”
“Now, c'mon,” Dad said, “Calm down. Y’know she needs a little help getting the trash out is all. Look, gimme a week, I can get this cleaned up.”
Emily, Cameron and Steven stood at alternate ends of the lot, standing near their trailers and the relative safety provided in case one of them accidentally invoked the rage of Kent’s dad. These were the other kids from Broadway; brothers and sisters in arms.
A yellow note smacked against the window, an inch from my face, slapped there by a small, tanned hand. I jumped back, shocked, then slid forward to read it.
Midnight, meeting spot.
The note disappeared. I watched as David went to each of my three friends’ trailers and repeated the action.
I put Dad’s old tape player on—his Zeppelin classic rock collection—and lay in bed. No way was I sleeping. I just waited as Dad brought back fast food and we watched the favorite of our six channels together. At last, as my father drank himself to sleep, escape became a possibility.
With fifteen minutes to spare I crept out of the mobile and stumbled through the familiar path out of the trailer park and into the woods where we played. The ‘meeting spot’ was a few dozen yards behind David’s trailer—I held my breath while walking by it. David’s mom never seemed to leave, only the growing trash piles held testament to her continued survival. Even though Dad managed to clear about half the trash up in the afternoon, the place still reeked. He said maybe she was crazy, that some people just lost their minds.
A campfire lit up our meeting space. David huddled over the flames, tending to his creation.
“Hey,” I murmured. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” he said, not looking up from the blaze, which he stirred with a stick.
"No paper route tonight?"
"I got fired," he admitted. "Turns out you're actually supposed to deliver the papers. I was done with that, anyway. I've got a new idea, I think." David stared into the controlled inferno.
“You okay?” I asked. A ratty blue pillow sat on the ground near the fire. David’s wide brown eyes, gleaming in the orange light, saw me staring. He turned and kicked the pillow into the darkness.
“This sucks. Our whole lives we’ve been knocked around. We deserve better, you know?”
Emily appeared behind me, knee-length hair perilously close to the weeds which sprung up around her. “I’m sorry, David. Mr. Gimble is a monster.”
Cameron arrived in tow. “Speaking of…where’s Kent?”
“We don’t need him,” Steven replied. Wiry and pale, the shortest of us. His parents gifted him with terrible eyesight, and his only glasses were hand-me-downs. The big black frames made his head seem tiny in comparison. “He’s stupid anyway.”
YOU ARE READING
[sic]Mystery / Thriller
Six teens are devoted to a game with one rule: If a player gets tagged, they must change their life within the next fifteen minutes. The better the player, the bigger the change. One might give their car away, or punch the school bully. Another migh...