Finish That Thought (late, due to technical problems)


I watched the man as his son’s dog was snatched away. The mutt snarled and bit at the man from animal control, but that only earned it a smack and a muzzle. The boy sat down on the curb and buried his head in his arms, folded tightly over his knees. His cries made no sound, but the sleeves of his Spongebob pajamas were soon wet with tears.

Some men would have consoled their sons, but the man merely pulled a Zippo out of his pocket. When the grinding of the wheel didn’t produce the desired flame, he cursed and threw his cigarette away. He hauled his son up by the shoulder and shoved him roughly towards the clapboard house. The screen door squeaked as it opened, then closed with a bang, although not tightly enough to keep out the cloud of mosquitoes gathered around the bare porch light. There was an angry bark, and then a smack, and then the crying started for real, the wails cutting through the night as the boy went off to his room.

The mattress the boy laid on was thin and lumpy, not at all like the one he’d gotten for his last birthday from his mom and dad. They’d tucked him in between clean sheets, and his dog had settled in around his feet at the end of the bed. But that bed was in the house his mother shared with her new husband, the man who’d bought out the factory where his dad had been second-shift manager, the man who hated kids and convinced her to sign away all parental rights to her cherished only child.

The man grabbed a new bottle and settled on the couch with a heavy thump. He ignored the glass filled with ice on the milk crate coffee table and drank straight from the bottle. Soon enough, the room was filled with snores, the sound rattling from his mouth in a nightmare of rotten teeth and mosquitoes.

Down the hall, the nightmare was just beginning. The boy had settled into a fitful sleep, the missing presence at the end of his bed as disturbing as the snores echoing down the hall. The snores were a signal to someone else, and the man who’d been watching at the window grinned fiercely. The night was filled with two new sounds – the snap of a switchblade and the tearing of a screen. Now that the mutt was gone, there was nothing to prevent him from fulfilling his fevered dreams.

I didn’t need to see this, so I stepped away between seconds into the other, although not before I heard the first cries from the room at the end of the hall. The break room was full this time of night, but I never had trouble finding a seat. The Reapers were fearsome beasts for sure, but everyone was frightened of a Happiness Thief, and I’m the best there ever was.


One Response to “Finish That Thought (late, due to technical problems)”

  1. So glad you rewrote this, just love it. Didn’t expect a happiness thief at all, what a great original idea. 🙂

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