Mr. Middle peaked through the blinds of his den. The sun was setting behind the house across the street and his dinner was sitting on a snack tray. The kids were playing outside his house again. Didn’t they have to go home for dinner? Did they even have parents? What a silly question, but still.
For a month, the same ten or twelve kids got off the bus at 3:19 pm, Monday – Friday in front of Mr. Middle’s house. This was a new schedule since three new families moved in down the street to the shitty apartment complex. Instead of going home to work on an exploding baking soda volcano or write a paper on why the curtains in the novel were blue, they played football. In front of his house. Every god damn day.
It wasn’t even organized; they would only throw the ball back and forth, sometimes not even attempting a real throw. Sometimes the girls got involved, other times they sat and watched, occasionally flirting with the boys. They did this until at least five sometimes six. A cold plate of food waited for Mr. Middle and he left his television paused long enough to let the box go to sleep and mess up his program.
That usually threw him into a quick but silent rage. He had smashed more than a couple TV remotes against the wall. His caged anxiety kept him inside and stopped him from confronting the children directly. He put up a small garden fence around the entirety of his front lawn but they ignored it.
Sometimes their heads would be further up their own asses than normal, and get close to Mr. Middle’s windows, one time falling in one of his bushes. He raised the blinds that time and scowled but he wasn’t sure how visible he was with the reflection of the sun shining off his windows back at them.
Halloween was only a couple days away and these hooligans made him question if he would put out candy this year at all. He didn’t want to think about that, he was expecting some specific small children back that had delighted him the year prior.
Those kids were fine; they were well behaved, had manners, and seemed aware they weren’t the only living things in existence. These lazy ass kids in front of his house were being raised by a terrible generation of people who cheated their way up and gave their kids everything they wanted to shut them up.
He continued watching them, throwing the ball back and forth over and over again with no direction. Mr. Middle boiled inside as he continued to scan the scene repeatedly. Sometimes they would get off the bus and go home, and Mr. Middle would sit and relax and watch something on his computer or maybe read a bit. He would bless his stars for them taking the night off.
Except they never actually did, they would come roaring back in a stampede of hormones and too much time on their hands. Mr. Middle would jump out of his chair, turn the blinds ever so slightly, and peak out between them. Their bikes would litter the sidewalk and yards and even sometimes the street. Why were they always drawn to his area? This was his home and he didn’t want kids around.
He finally left the window and fell into his chair with his arms crossed and the sound of the ball hitting the ground would echo to him and he would grumble at the window. Then it would be silent for a few seconds followed by a scream and the ball hitting the ground and rolling into something. It was probably his carefully planted flower beds or his recycling bin; he would check later when they were done destroying his peace and quiet.
Then, Mr. Middle had an idea. It was a warm idea that came to life in the back of his head and traveled down to his heart. His gut joined in and he stood out of his chair, his knees cracking. It was one of those ‘Eureka’ moments he used to have as a writer before his wife passed away. He knew how to get the kids away from his house.
Mr. Middle returned home from the store at 11:00am the next day, plenty of time before the young tweens returned from their publically funded school of idiots. The neighbor’s lawn was being taken care of by a couple of real winners. It was a massive lawn and as the summer ended and the city family returned to their first home, two new kids would be shuffled over from the landscaping company.
One wore a camo hat and always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and the other had long greasy hair tucked behind his ears, under a trucker hat. Mr. Middle had watched them too, and he was pretty sure they only rode around on their lawn mowers looking busy and occasionally raking up some leaves to justify their existence. At least the lawn was taken care of, unlike Dale’s across the way. The weeds by the mailbox looked cute at first, but a year later it was becoming atrocious.
Mr. Middle slaved away in his kitchen and his house appeared the same as it did every day, little to no activity. No noise louder than a few pots and pans clanging around but there was a wonderful smell coming from the windows, freshly baked apple pie.
3:17…3:18…3:19…they were here.
Mr. Middle stepped out of his house and all the children looked at him with confusion. They had never actually seen him before. He looked like a teddy bear, although the hair on his head had turned white and thin like a Muppet. His belly stuck out and he had rosy cheeks and a big smile across his face.
“I have some freshly baked apple pie. I picked the apples myself this past weekend. I have plates and forks for everyone!”
Before he let them say no or turn away, he was handing them the plates and forks and napkins. He ran back to his house and came out holding two pies with coils of steam coming from the top. The two grease balls on the lawn mower (one was now riding around in the cart, on top of the leaves) were watching so Mr. Middle waved them over.
“Apple pie, gentlemen?”
He handed them plates and forks. They didn’t need napkins from the look of their shirts. Mr. Middle served everyone a slice of pie, leaving none for himself. One of the kids noticed.
“That’s ok, Jimmy, I had some.”
“My name isn’t Jim-“
“It’s fine, eat up.”
They ate every bite and Mr. Middle had returned with a large garbage can to collect plates and forks and napkins. And then he waited and watched as one of the kids threw his plate on the ground and tossed the football to another teen. This particular wimpy kid threw the ball back and hunched over with his hands on his knees. Mr. Middle smiled and rubbed his hands together.
Dark brown liquid shot across the ground, spewing into a puddle in front of the child. A blonde girl puked on the girl next to her and all over her purple dress; a small drop landing on the edge of her lip. A chain reaction started, brown vomit being tossed around wildly, hitting each other in the face and showering each other’s hair. Most of it was turning crimson as the kids were turning over, some falling on their back and rolling back and forth, all while bile kept coming out of their gullets.
The two landscapers had walked back to their lawn and begun doing the same onto the freshly manicured rose bushes. The vibrant red petals fell off after being painted with walnut brown chunks of bodily fluid, most likely killing the bush in the process.
Then one of the kids stopped moving, followed by another and the moans grew faint. The kind smile on Mr. Middle turned wicked as the two lawn mower guys fell unconscious and all the children lay in puddles of their own vomit, dead. Mr. Middle tapped one of the more obnoxious children with the tip of his shoe. No movement.
He walked around behind his house and a minute later came back with an old cast iron dirt rake with a wooden handle. He stood on the sidewalk facing his house and scanned the piles of children. He looked at the closest one, a boy in a blue t-shirt, and shrugged.
“I’ve got to start somewhere.”
He took the metal rake and held it over his head. He swung down and the bone crackling thud gave him chills of excitement. He was finally rid of these annoying children. The rake was lodged into the shin bone as he pulled the child away from his house and into the road. He stood on the child’s foot and pulled the rake free.
He swung at a girl in yoga pants and a crop top, the rusty prongs wedged between her rib bones. This made the rake tougher to pull out, but Mr. Middle managed to, although he also opened one side of her chest and a few rib bones protruded.
He continued dragging the children off his property and into the road, leaving them in a line of piled bodies; much like someone would with sandbags to stop an oncoming flood. He added the two landscapers after a struggle; they were much heavier than the children and now his back hurt, so he needed to make sure he got the heating pad out before he settled in for Jeopardy.
He stood on the stoop of his house and marveled at his work. He rested the blood caked rake up against the side of his house and brushed his hands together before entering.
“Nothing like a good day of hard work.”
If you missed Part 1, it can be read here. Part 3 will be out tomorrow and the finale on Friday.